A Place Fear Can’t Find

A Place Fear Can’t Find


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Program note:

This piece is a setting of the poem A Place Fear Can’t Find by Jaylen Stark. The poem focuses on themes of new and unfamiliar environments, hope, and looking towards a brighter future, using street signs and road work as a metaphor for growth, learning, and social progress.

The piece is in ABAB form. It begins with the phrase “I see” and uses bright chords to convey a sense of newness and unfamiliarity. The mood then shifts, using sudden modulation and open textures to convey an anxious feeling. Over the course of the piece, the phrase “checkered lines” is repeated as an accompaniment texture that changes from being threatening – a sign of unfamiliar surroundings and social closed mindedness – to being hopeful. Throughout the piece the phrases “I see” and “I hear” are used as divisions between sections and are signs of progress and slowly becoming used to a new environment. 

In the final section of the piece, the basses and sopranos sing a dreamy, winding melody that swings between 7ths, 9ths, and octaves. The ultimate resolution of this melody is indicative of a hope for humankinds ability to set aside our differences and live in harmony. The final phrase “a place checkered lines stop” emerges from the “checkered texture” as a united cry for a better tomorrow, one in which all people can be free from oppression and unafraid to live their lives to the fullest.

Text: Jaylen Stark
Voicing: SATB Divisi
Composed in 2018

I see a sign
one I don’t recognize
checkered lines to my left
they pass by
like thoughts by my eyes
of all those I have left
behind me
There’s a blindspot
I don’t care to see
I hear construction on the road ahead
and I see a sign that says
go slow
but don’t veer off
new faces are crossing your path
don’t u-turn around now
fear is not a place
not in cracks in concrete
it’s in me
every time
I see a face
one I don’t recognize
in eyes to my right
a past by those too busy to cry
of shaking hands which write broken
which right’s broken?
which eye’s blind?
I care
to see construction
a road
a head turned around
and see a face
a sign
for a place fear can’t find
for a place checkered lines stop