I composed Reed Songs in direct response to the Reed beds I encounter when walking by the harbour in Cruden Bay where I live – and take a great deal of my inspiration from. It was an intriguing idea for me to attempt to capture the motion, and feeling of the Reeds as I encountered them. I was aware when I began to sketch the piece that Britten also talked at length about the Aldeburgh landscape, which is also famed for its natural beauty, the performer and listener may relate somewhat to Britten’s Cello Suites in this work, but that is for the listener to decide. Early into the composing process, I was further inspired by a poem titled ‘A Musical Instrument’ – written by Elizabeth Barrett Browning;
WHAT was he doing, the great god Pan, Down in the reeds by the river?
Spreading ruin and scattering ban, Splashing and paddling with hoofs of a goat, And breaking the golden lilies afloat With the dragon-fly on the river.
Reed Songs is composed in 3 movements, which are to be played attacca. As with a great deal of my work, this piece is Neo-Impressionist. I have tried to capture the various images of these Reeds which are blown and tossed by harsh winds, calm and stayed, elegant and beautiful. Furthermore, my choice of 3 slow movements has been carefully considered. I hope that the listener will be more concerned with the form and shifting of the melodic lines. Similarly, I personally view this as an evocative and expressive piece and performers should be concerned with the sculpting of each line to bring this emotion of the work to the listener.