Autumn Minimalism: the Constancy of Change

The garden now reminds me of a symphony orchestra tuning for a concert. Fall has not quite arrived in its full power and majesty, but the time will soon arrive for its long unfolding. Allen Lacy, “The Garden in Autumn”

Minimalism has been on my mind all week. My student ensemble tackled Terry Riley‘s “In C” on Wednesday, the next day a composition student declared his intention to write a piece in the “minimalist style” and I found myself explaining the intersection of multiple rhythmic patterns and the sense of constant motion that emerges in this approach. Meanwhile, I’m preparing for a visit from friend and minimalist composer David Borden as well as another performance of my orchestral piece, Sketches of America, which includes minimalist elements. So, perhaps it is not surprising that walking through the garden this morning, coffee firmly in hand, I noticed the constant motion of the garden as well.

The floral fireworks of July are a distant memory; September is all about motion. Tall slender stems of late blooming annuals and ornamental grasses lend the look of a meadow in the garden beds, moving in the lightest breeze and shimmering in the sunlight. Bees and butterflies, hungry for a late season feast before winter, bow and bob from flower to flower, layering the garden with another repetition of rhythm. Cicadas haven’t ceased their buzzing ostinato from the night before; the drone is punctuated by a pair of cardinals warning of a wandering cat; once danger is past, melodious bird song resumes. A hummingbird swoops by me, its wings sounding like the roll of a snare drum; we’re both surprised by the encounter, and he cheeps and flies away in search of a more private feeding ground.

I meander to the upper deck, where I can see the garden in its entirety while gently rocking in a chair, my own contribution to the motion of the garden. Even twenty feet above ground, bees and wasps find the plumes of Agastache ‘Apricot Sprite’ that I planted in pots on the deck; they hustle in and out of the long wands of flowers, triggering a pungent scent of licorice in the warm humid air. I’m amused by my feelings of peace and stillness in the garden, when in actuality it is a place constantly in flux, moving and changing in both sight and sound. Minimalistic music, with its floating patterns hiding surprise within repetition, has always seemed to me to be both constantly moving and yet utterly still at the same time. This morning,the garden seems to embody that same quality, a constancy of change.

All text and video in “Autumn MInimalism: the Constancy of Change” ©2011 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved

9 thoughts on “Autumn Minimalism: the Constancy of Change

  1. Pingback: The Grand Pause and Reprise | composerinthegarden

  2. Pingback: Sketches of America | composerinthegarden

  3. Funny that you should speak of motion and grasses. I went for a walk yesterday that I had not walked since with Billy. It was a walk full of prairie grasses and there were parts of it that were such that they looked like a prairie cloud…………..translucent but moving grasses with a few flowers popping out above making it a moving sea of green with bits of color in spots…………….so very wonderful.

    I love your music, descriptions and videos…………I am blessed to know you. Thank you!

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