Shaun's Blog

The Colour of Autumn

Autumn blog featured photo

Stourhead is a very special place for our family; I remember visiting the gardens with my parents when I was very young and it still holds that feeling of “lost youth” for me, especially in Autumn. Jamie’s photograph is very evocative of these memories and I never tire of looking at it as each time something new appears. The sky and reflective colours in the lake are quite menacing, framing the serene beauty and vibrancy of the trees.

The photograph inspired me to write a musical journey around the lake. I wrote a simple theme almost immediately and decided to develop this using musical devices from the Baroque, Classical and Romantic periods. The Greek style “classical” buildings are represented with the theme accompanied by Alberti bass and then elaborated on using Baroque ornamention. For the next variation I used tremolo chords in the left hand to symbolise the rippling expanse of the lake with the theme bridging above. From here the music becomes less dramatic and more homely, representing the Gothic Cottage (in which mulled wine is served as Autumn meets Winter). From here we move into the Grotto and I wanted to evoke the feeling of solitude and calm I feel when I visit with a gentle, simple harmonisation of the theme. Finally the music descends into the depths, like Aeneas descending into the underworld; something Henry Hoare wished to represent when he set about designing the gardens in the early 18th Century.


  1. Look forward to hearing and comparing music to what you see. That sky was interesting. and unusual. It reminds me of my youth when at a Salvation Army childrens’ music camp conductor and composer Brindley Boon told us how in Scotland the view and shape of the hills urged him to write ,”To the hills I lift my eyes, the distant hills before me”. I can remember the simple melody then adding harmony, but not all the words,sadly. Are you going to write any lyrics to it?

    1. Thanks Margaret; it’s interesting that I also have chosen a simple melody to represent a beautiful landscape. I don’t intend to write any lyrics for these pieces. You can view a video of one of the songs I wrote about those living in exile here and a song I wrote for my wife Carol, called ‘Take It!’, written when I was recovering from a serious car accident.

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