Hortulus Animae

Hortulus Animae (i) for flute and fixed media 2015-18
Blodeuwedd for bass flute and fixed media 2019
Hortulus Animae (ii) ‘siambr’ for piccolo and fixed media 2019

Hortulus Animae is a music composition consisting of three works that can be performed individually or as one. They are composed for flute, bass flute and piccolo with fixed media, and situated somewhere between music theatre, improvisation and composition. Hortulus Animae came about through a convergence of geographical waypoints and an urge to draw myself into these spaces. The compositions circumambulate three sites in North Wales (Colwyn Bay Sea Defences, Llandudno Junction and Bryn Celli Ddu) that for me combined contemporary and mythological perspectives. The result could broadly be described as a psychogeographic work that intermingles a personal symbolism with the potency of being surrounded by a simultaneously ancient and modern culture that is specific to Wales. During this period there were also several texts in the periphery of my thinking about the composition, among these were the writings by Antonin Artaud, Ted Hughes and Seamus Heaney. Their influence is perhaps more discernible in the imagery of the visual materials that accompany Hortulus Animae than the music itself. The only exception to this being the third work siambr, which draws on the energy and visceral nature of Artaud’s Le theatre de Séraphin.

There is a strong visual theme in Hortulus Animae. Before and during the composing I developed a series of images and ‘tablatures’ through photography of the sites and their surrounding areas. These images are not explicitly part of the musical performance, but are best understood as visualisations of the music, or ‘tokens’ from the process of composing and performing Hortulus Animae. There is also another visual representation of the work – a score. However, rather than making an instructional document for another musician to play my music, the score was designed as a further level of description. They are visualisations of the piece in yet another symbolic form. The title Hortulus Animae refers to a 16th century prayer book which was a devotional work intended for the lay person, and a source of private reflection for the individual. My use of the title does not infer a religious connection to my work, but rather a sense of looking inward and of focus. I will be releasing the recordings, artwork and scores associated with the project in Easter 2021.


02/20 Scottish Arts Club, Edinburgh

11/19 A M O K, York

11/19 SCRATCH, Storiel, Bangor

09/19 SUMMIT, Manchester

09/19 Unerhörte Musik, Berlin

02/19 Thessaloniki Centre for Contemporary Art, Greece

02/19 Bangor New Music Festival

07/18 Voice of Fire, Aberystwyth, Wales

Bryn Celli Ddu (c) r.craig