I Randall Shinn: Surprising the Air

Surprising the Air

Song for soprano and piano

Soprano range: from d-sharp 4 to g 5


Duration: 8.5 minutes

Score sample: Surprising the Air

Poem: “Cotton Dust” by Veronica Patterson

Publication: Available for purchase at Subito Music Distribution.


Lewis W. Hine: Adolescent Girl, a Spinner, in a Carolina Cotton Mill, 1908

Composer Notes: Poet Veronica Patterson, inspired by the Lewis W. Hine photograph seen above, wrote the poem “Cotton Dust” in the voice of a young woman working in a southern cotton mill in 1911. In the poem the young woman reveals some of her personal history. I found the poem’s emotional scope so deeply moving that as soon as I read it I approached Veronica about setting it to music. The title comes from one of the poem's final lines.