Anatomy of a Spanish Garden (2014)

mandolin & guitar
9 min. 45 sec.

I. Stones and Roses
II. Beautiful Ruins
III. Light on Water
IV. Paths to the Sea

Anatomy of a Spanish Garden was inspired by an exploration of landscape architecture and design, with particular reference to several gardens in Spain. It occurred to me that there are many common elements between designing a garden, and creating a piece of music: structure and shape, careful selection of materials suited to the “climate”, a variety of surfaces (textures), interesting paths and vistas/resting points, colour and contrast.

The first movement, “Stones and Roses”, was inspired by San Segundo in Ávila, with its harsh climate, stone wall, and beautiful octagonal pool. The crisp, symmetrical shape of an octatonic scale first came to mind, which then led into the exploration of the Arabic ‘maqam’—still with the architectural clarity of axial pitches, but also the colour and warmth of tones falling outside the 12-tone equal tempered scale. The second movement, “Beautiful Ruins” references El Monasterio, a monastery in Castile, constructed in 1480. This movement grows organically out of a sparse reference (four notes) from Thomas Tallis’ Third Mode Melody. The third movement, “Light on Water”, had several garden-references, including Palacio de Oca, in Pontevedra, but at its heart is the idea of a lively, shimmering, transparent surface, and a deeper layer of colour. The fourth movement, “Paths to the Sea” is an imagining of Santa Clotilde at Costa Brava– lively, verdant, overlooking the sea.

Anatomy of a Spanish Garden received its premiere, with Mark Ferris- mandolin, and Adrian Verdejo- guitar, at Pyatt Hall, Vancouver, Canada, March 28, 2015.

Performed by Duo Ahlert & Schwab at Forum NRW in Hertogenrath, Germany, July 24, 2017.


Sheet music is available through the Canadian Music Centre.