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Rajasekar, Shruthi: Sorted.

From: £3.75

SATB unaccompanied (with divisions)

The security announcement ‘See it. Say it. Sorted.’, promoting vigilance among rail passengers, has become an inescapable part of the soundscape of travel in the UK. Embracing both its light-hearted side – as the work of an American composer fresh to the delights of journeying by train – and its more disquieting aspect as a symbol of state surveillance, Sorted delivers the message with flair and minimalist drive. Elements of South Indian Carnatic music, of which the composer is a noted exponent, add to the music’s fascination as a dynamic musical reflection of modern urban life.

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If you see something that doesn’t look right,
speak to staff or text British Transport Police
on 61016. We’ll sort it. See it. Say it. Sorted.
Crown Copyright. Used by permission

For some years, the security announcement ‘See it. Say it. Sorted.’ has been an integral part of the soundscape across the whole of the UK rail network. Whatever the delays and detours, or the elasticity of time as journeys stretched out or raced to their conclusions, this message punctuated the experience with unceasing regularity, causing my US American friends and me some amusement as we sampled the delights of train travel. But perhaps because it was ubiquitous, not only could its meaning have been easily overlooked – be vigilant at all times – it could also potentially distract from a more insidious interpretation, namely the legitimising of a surveillance state where governments encourage citizens to be inherently suspicious of their neighbours.

PERFORMANCE NOTE

A dot in the underlay indicates the repetition of the preceding word. In passages where words beginning with ‘s’ are rapidly repeated, the sibilant need not be unduly stressed. Rather, a relaxed dental articulation of the consonant should deliver the required sound without causing jaw tension. Parts of Sorted, for example bars 30 to 37, reference the raga Nasikabhushani from the South Indian Carnatic classical tradition, of which the composer is a practitioner.

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The title of Shruthi Rajasekar’s Sorted (SATB(div) unacc.) is taken from the UK rail network’s security announcement ‘See it. Say it. Sorted’ – and it may well not strike one as an attractive idea for a composition at first. Rajasekar, however, after travelling with friends from the US and being amused at the regularity of the message throughout their journey, has interestingly taken this very familiar text into a less familiar choral soundworld, combining some elements of south Indian Carnatic music as well as traditional western classical idioms, both of which draw on her own personal and musical background. In one section, for example, the words are set with reference to the raga Nasikabhushani (with a good guide in the performance notes as to how it should be done). There is also a short solo moment which is based on ‘We’ll sort it’, again with elements of south Indian classical music which transforms the individual voice of the announcement that we are so used to hearing. Sorted is a curious, modern piece that will appeal to a youth choir, albeit one with the patience to navigate and master the less familiar but highly possible style of choral writing. Shruthi Rajasekar is also the first 2022 New Music composer in the Choir & Organ partnership with VOCES8, details of which were featured in the January/February issue.

Joy Hill, Choir & Organ Jul/Aug 2022

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