Length: c. 7 minutes
Orchestration: flute, clarinet/bass clarinet, violin, cello, percussion (snare drum, vibraphone, 3 tom-toms: high, medium, and low), and piano.
About this Piece
The Pattern serves as a case for reparations for the African American community and embodies the tumultuous relationship between white Americans and black Americans—from the beginning of slavery, to today. Moments throughout American history demonstrate the many ways in which white supremacy has, very intentionally, created roadblocks against progress for African Americans. For example, after the Civil War and during Reconstruction, black Americans began to participate in government and build their own communities. This was met by riots throughout the South, led by white mobs, and policy was enacted to overthrow the participation of blacks in politics. During Jim Crow, blacks were not only segregated from whites and received less resources, but they were also disenfranchised as voting citizens. Among many oppressive acts leading up to the Civil Rights Movement, black Americans experienced redlining, making it next to impossible to legitimately purchase a home and build wealth.
These incidences are indicative of a pattern that’s as American as apple pie.
The beginning of The Pattern is inspired by the last battle of the Civil War, the Battle of Palmito Ranch. Once the war ends, black Americans are declared free from slavery, but left with no guidance or resources. Though during Reconstruction many blacks were able to acquire land and build their own communities, there was lingering disdain from defeated confederates, and terroristic behaviors towards blacks ensued. The music moves into a section that represents the hope and optimism felt by black Americans, but also the looming and inevitable attack from white supremacy. There is a moment where true freedom seems possible, established by a groove in the vibraphone and piano with liberated winds, but there is still a sense that history will repeat itself. In the ﬁnal section, it is made clear that this is a cycle proven to be exhausting, painful, and psychologically harmful.
Because of this toxic pattern, black Americans have struggled to experience the same privileges as their white counterparts. Putting an end to this abuse is a much needed and overdue form of reparations. —Allison Loggins-Hull