Some time in the early 1980’s, I happened upon an essay by the 17th century polymathÂ Sir Thomas BrowneÂ calledÂ The Garden of Cyrus OR, The Quincunciall, Lozenge, or Net-work Plantations of the Ancients, Artificially, Naturally, Mystically Considered. It is a wacky and marvelous piece ofÂ work, and reading it kind of changed my life.
The essay both describes and embodies the idea of the “decussation”, the place where two opposed forces meet, releasing energy by embracing their opposition. Sir Thomas Browne is a simultaneously a mystic and a scientist, a medical doctor and a literary stylist. He talks about the quincunx pattern as it appears on beetle’s wings and in Plato’s cosmology and a bunch of stuff in between.
My electronic piece,Â The Garden of Cyrus, was the first big piece I wrote after I finished school. It embodies the decussation by being totally rigidly serial, with algorithmic structures defining every pitch and rhythmic event, but I simultaneously tried to make the processes organic and available to the listener, as classic minimalism does. My goal was to wrestle the crunchy techniques of old-school modernism into something I could use, something I could love.
This score is the last movement of electronic version ofÂ The Garden of Cyrus.Â It’s a four-part canon in twelve sections, where each player does faster and faster repeated notes in each section until finally s/he falls into sustained notes. The original version was electronic, but the excellent guitar quartetÂ DitherÂ recently asked me to make a four-guitar version, so that’s what I’m posting here. It could probably be adapted for string quartet as well; please get in touch with me if you’d be interested in performing a string quartet version.
The electronic version ofÂ The Garden of CyrusÂ with all five movements is available on my CDÂ Overstepping.
The Garden of Cyrus VÂ is part of my ongoing projectÂ A Book of Days. You can hear and see Dither’s performance by going toÂ July 22nd.
Here is the original electronic version:
Here is aÂ scoreÂ of the piece in pdf format. For a set of parts, please click the donation link below, with my thanks for your support of this very low-key way of publishing: