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Sin. Exist. Live.

Ensemble SATB with Electric Guitar

Duration 3:25

Completed 2023

Text Paul Winchester

Cost $2.5 (minimum order 10), Guitar Part - $7

The text and concept for this piece happened organically and almost by accident. In the search for texts to use, I could not find anything that matched, on a phonetic and textural level, the vigor and motion that I imagined would be present in the writing for the guitar. So I set out to write a simple text myself, starting with just the word “fly,” which carried the energy I was looking for, both conceptually and sonically. From there, the superlatives and opposites took shape, moving into the word “sink.” This is where the concept of sin entered unexpectedly. When composing for a choir, one of the technical elements that one must keep in mind is that a word that is sung on a long note is not fully defined until its final consonant is sung. Thus, when singing and holding the word “sink,” it could just as easily wind up being the word “sin” (among several others as well). Upon realizing this linguistic coincidence, I decided to make it an integral part of the poetic structure.


In this conception, sin is not meant necessarily in the religious sense, but rather as being or acting in a manner contrary to one’s core principles or purpose. This broader sense of sin as a state of being led me to ponder other such states. The second, “exist,” is meant as more of a neutral state – what might be categorized as simply surviving. And finally, “live” in this context is meant as being in deep accord with oneself – to be thriving. These three states are not constants, but modes of being that we all will oscillate between at different points in time and in different circumstances.


And that is the essence of this text and this piece – that as we move in and out of these different states and try to pull away from “sin” and into “life,” the world and its realities carry on unrelentingly. We cannot control what the world does around us; we can only try to coexist with things as they are and then, from within that reality, move towards our best selves and our most fulfilling and meaningful lives. 

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