First movement: The Majesty of Summer ( tron_1.mp3 , 34:42) The movement is divided into the sections: Sunrise, The quest begins, Frolic of the animals, The expanse of the mountains.
Second movement: The Colors of Autumn ( tron_2.mp3 , 35:39) The movement is divided into the sections: On a sunny afternoon, The southward migration, The color's majesty, Sunset by a mountain lake.
Third movement: The Moods of Winter ( tron_3.mp3 , 29:20) The movement is divided into the sections: Winter Storms, Of contemplation, A peaceful snow, Frolic in the snow, Of desperation.
Fourth movement: The Blossoms of Spring ( tron_4.mp3 , 32:59) The movement is divided into the sections: New life on the meadows, The migration returns, First ending: The joy of ignorance, Confusion over death, Second ending: The Revelation, Third ending: The great resolve and Nature's celebration.
The Revelation of Nature is an epic tone poem for orchestra with overture and four movements representing a wanderer trekking through the wilderness during the four seasons from summer through spring for the purpose of understanding Nature. An unseen guide directs the path and assists in the quest. The significance of all of Nature is revealed to the wanderer and even the guide is revealed in the end - thus the title for the work. With the knowledge and understanding gained from the odyssey, the wanderer resolves to teach humankind how to work with Nature rather than against it. The work concludes as all of Nature rejoices.
The four movements, each of which is an individual tone poem, are: The Majesty of Summer, The Colors of Autumn, The Moods of Winter, and The Blossoms of Spring. The overture introduces the music and sets the mood for the first movement to begin. Each movement is around a half-hour in length and the total performance time for this work is nearly two and a half hours. It is hard to describe how music sounds in words so the best description I can give is to imagine a combination of the very descriptive themes of The Grand Canyon Suite by Ferde Grofe and the majesty of Sequoia, A Tone Painting by Homer C. LaGassey, and the grandeur of An Alpine Symphony by Richard Strauss. If you like these works you will probably like The Revelation of Nature.
Each movement can be listened to individually and the meaning contemplated. But, there should be occasions where the entire work is heard in one setting. I provide only the basic structure of the overall story. Rather than listening passively, each listener should actively fill in his or her own details to create their own personal odyssey. Each listener must become the wanderer in order to fully appreciate the meaning of this work. Follow the wanderer through his journey and learn as he learns. Perhaps you will leave this music with a renewed attitude and be inspired to visit with and spend some real quality time with Nature. Let the music be your unseen guide. This is appropriate since all dialogue between the guide and the wanderer is unspoken. The ultimate language of music expresses thoughts for which words are inadequate.
The music is an escape from the hectic pace of
modern life. In
some respects the great length of this music is a protest against
the attention deficit disorder society we presently live in. A
journey through Nature is not supposed to be a quick fix - it
takes time to contemplate and understand it all. Because of the
sprawl of civilization, it is not easy to commune with Nature
like it used to be. I have used the music many times as therapy
to recover from an overdose of a man dominated world.
The composition was begun in early 1969 and evolved to this form around 1974. The story line evolved with the music but always involved a wanderer character. I knew in 1969 that this was going to be a significant work and that it would take a long time to complete. The overture was added in 1985. Numerous efforts to complete the work in past years failed. I began a major effort to complete the work in the winter of 2003. The inspiration and drive to complete the work was at an all time high and the work was finished in late summer, 2003. I felt compelled to write this music - my thoughts were influenced by an unseen guide. The work represents my very best - nothing else I have ever written or may write will compare to this, my favorite work.
Much of the inspiration for this work came from
Rocky Mountain National Park and other parts of Colorado in the
summers of 1969 and 1979. Inspiration was also provided by many
walks through the woods (all destroyed by the sprawl of
civilization) near where I grew up in western Bessemer, Alabama.
Although the wanderer is a fictional character, a number of his
experiences are based on those of my own. Hence, some parts of
the music are autobiographical as I too, have walked the woods
alone during all seasons of the year and have learned much from
the observation of Nature.
The title and religion
It took a long time to arrive at the title for this work. In the early years the working title was, The Infinite Creation, but that title just did not fit. Around 1995 I set out to determine what the real title should be. I put a lot of applicable adjectives on a piece of paper and then tried numerous combinations. One almost title was, A Trek Through Nature. What seemed to be working was the phrase, The _____ of Nature. Some candidate words for the blank were: story, voice, seasons, grandeur, inspiration, and path. In thinking about the climax of the work it became apparent that the missing word had to be revelation. I kept experimenting with other titles but nothing approached this one.
This work is about the ultimate religion of Nature - i.e. God and Nature are one in the same. Nature has many things to teach. The wildlife already know and live by these teachings but humankind is still ignorant. Humankind is determined to conquest Nature. The laws of Nature are violated and much suffering results for all. Humankind must learn how to work with Nature and not against it. To do this requires a major change in thinking. The wanderer in this story accepts his ignorance and approaches Nature with a clear mind and is greatly rewarded for doing so. The purpose of the trek was the suspicion that something was missing from man-made religion and that the truth could only be discovered by personal experience.
I had no idea that the title I chose as well as the story line would be so troubling for certain religious types. It is interesting that I had never heard the phrase, the revelation of nature, prior to choosing that for the title of this work. In doing research on that phrase in the spring of 2003, I discovered that it is prevalent in theological writings where its use correlates with the theme of this work but as an incomplete and immature comprehension of mankind about religion. It is written that only manmade scriptures that are purported to be inspired by God reveal the complete relationship. It is required to be impossible for humankind, i.e. the wanderer, to understand God via observation and study of the world He created - thus, revelation of Nature is prohibited by the religion of man. I argue that the two previous sentences are inconsistent. How is it that Nature inspires only certain self appointed deities and not anyone in general? It appears to me that humankind created religion in order to dictate to God how the world should be according to the fancy of men. I do not believe that a manmade religion can ever reveal the true place that humankind was intended to occupy in the grand creation. Manmade religions serve mankind, not God. The fundamental of manmade religion is that the individual is automatically condemned to Hell unless that individual follows the procedure established by the religious hierarchy for salvation. Man's purpose seems to be the condemnation of everything. Contrast this with the fundamental of Nature - the individual is automatically accepted into paradise unless that individual rejects Nature. God did not create life for the purpose of condemning it.
Because of the title and what I have written here, this work
will probably be rejected those people who are self appointed
deities dedicated to condemning what they see as the mistakes of
God - of which I must certainly be one. Observe that in this
story, the wanderer left manmade religion behind and approached
Nature with the intent to understand rather than to dominate. It
is only with that type of open and clear mind that one can
develop a true relationship with Nature, i.e. God. In an epilogue
to this story the wanderer returns to humankind to teach that
each person must individually discover Nature in a direct sense
rather than blindly accept the postulates of manmade religion.
For writing this I will be called a heathen - just as the
wanderer is clearly a heathen. By definition, a heathen is one
who does not subscribe to popular religious doctrine. It is
interesting that this work concludes with a heathen being
welcomed into God's presence. In retrospect, I could not have
chosen a better title for this work.
The work is based on two main themes although the number of different melodies heard throughout the work is almost countless. The first main theme is referred to as the Titan theme and is based on a sequence of major and minor thirds representing the vastness of Nature in both time and detail. The second main theme is referred to as the Hymn to Nature and represents unspoken dialogue (i.e. dialogue in thought) between Nature and the wanderer. Each main theme is heard completely only a few times during the work although the opening phrases of the two seemingly unrelated themes interact constantly throughout the work and have a related rhythm that ties them together. Each movement is divided into a number of sections representing a particular scene from the overall story as discussed below.
All movements of this work are now complete in what I call draft form as a Cakewalk file in combination with a special program on my Korg 01/Wpro synthesizer to implement a statistical orchestra (see statorch.htm). It is beyond my time and abilities to prepare a full score although a programming step based on information in the statorch.htm file could convert my work into that form which would then only need some editing to correct imperfections in the statistical orchestration and achieve tonal effects not possible in my synthesized orchestra. The statistical orchestra I developed does a very credible job and enables me to hear the work generally as intended. If one is listening to the music rather than judging orchestration then it is easy to ignore some orchestration flaws in the recording I have made of this work.
The work was essentially finished on September 6, 2003 after completing revisions to the second movement. During the next several weeks I made various revisions to all of the movements and the overture. The quest begins portion of the first movement needed extensive revisions and held up the completion of this work for about a month. The revisions were completed on October 25 and that is my official date of completion.
Although I have heard each movement countless times in my mind
and while refining the composition, I have long wanted to be able
to listen to the entire work as it was meant to be heard - as
pure music and without having to think about fine details that
need more refinement. Finally, after nearly 35 years, I first
listened to the entire work on October 26, 2003. It was a
memorable experience. The work is now ready to be heard by
others. After taking a break from this I will probably make a few
more subtle revisions to each movement mainly for achieving the
right tonality. The fourth movement needs the most effort in this
regard as some portions are a bit shrill but are fine for the
The overture is built around simplicity and peace. I decided to add a brief overture to the work because the long opening section of the first movement is very contemplative and requires a certain mind set in order to appreciate. The overture allows the listener to clear the mind of extraneous thoughts and develop a focus on this work. The overture combines melodious themes from the first, second, and fourth movements and is a general introduction to the work. The main theme was composed just for the overture and is based on the spirit of the many other themes in the work. Although I did not intend to use the theme outside of the overture, the closing portion of the first movement needed it so it is used once again there in even more dramatic form than used in conclusion of the overture.
The overture begins with a horn call that was composed in September of 1989 while looking out from Brasstown Bald, the highest point in the mountains of northern Georgia. The overture had been complete for some time but the addition of this horn call greatly improved the beginning. Only woodwinds and strings are used in the next sections building up to the dramatic, full orchestral climax. A horn part was added for the full orchestrated version.
The main theme is based on a sequence of four phrases. The opening phrase begins with an interval of a seventh and represents great yearning. This is followed by a feeling of joy. The next phrase uses an interval of a sixth and represents profound hope. The third phrase uses an interval of a second and represents peace. The melody concludes with a descending pattern of the four note sequence that ends with a feeling of fulfillment.
The main theme is followed by a variation of the opening
phrase of the Hymn to Nature theme. Other tranquil themes follow in a
gradual building process to
the dramatic and full orchestral recapitulation of the main theme. The
tranquil and contemplative ending is the revelation music of the fourth
movement -- actually the climax of the work but
for the overture it is just a peaceful ending.
First Movement: The
Majesty of Summer
The first movement is the beginning of the journey and begins with a long and contemplative sunrise section. Then the trek begins in earnest and vista after vista is seen. The energy and spirit levels are very high as the wanderer observes Nature at its grandest.
The opening to this movement was mainly composed in 1979 while
I was working in Denver. Each morning I would drive down a long
and lonely road to the job site and see the sun rising to my
right shining on the mountains to my left. The opening trumpet
solo dates back to 1969. A lot of work was done in the spring of
2003 and the first completed draft was finished on August 9,
The movement opens with a long, somber trumpet solo depicting
dawn. There have been billions of sunrises before and there will
be billions hence so the music is unhurried. But this sunrise is
special. This new day marks the beginning of a quest by a member
of humankind to learn about Nature. The wanderer is packed and
ready to go and watches this special sunrise. The mood is
melancholy with an occasional ray of hope. More instruments join
in as the sun rises further. As the sun fully rises, the Hymn to
Nature theme is played by the full orchestra. Except for an
appearance in a minor key in the third movement, the hymn will
not be heard again until the close of the fourth movement.
The quest begins
The wanderer now begins his trek. It is a brilliant day and
the wanderer is awe struck by the many mountain vistas, streams,
lakes, forests, fields and all the wildlife at work. After a
brief and spectacular introduction the trek theme begins. The
trek theme has an energetic and yearning quality. Although he is
alone, he has a sense that there is a guide leading him and
pointing out all the many things that must be seen and noted. The
wanderer will come to know this unseen guide very well over the
long journey. The wanderer yearns to see and understand more and
the music yearns with him.
Frolic of the animals
The music begins with the frolicking of the chipmunks and
squirrels. Different variations of the theme are heard as other
animals frolic in their own way. The first close to this portion
is a broad theme signifying that all is well as the wanderer
observes a mountain goat majestically overlooking the activities.
The music concludes with the animals scattering as a bear
approaches and the frolic theme becomes a comic waltz in time
with his clumsy antics.
The expanse of the mountains
The music begins in a very grandeur manner. Variations of the
horn call from the overture are played against an awe theme based
on the pentatonic scale with woodwinds rippling in between. A
grand march becomes mysterious and even frightful as the wanderer
is in awe of the titanic forces that have shaped the sublime
mountain peaks and huge rock formations. The music builds until
there is an explosion of grandeur. The main theme of the overture
is recalled and the movement ends with the full orchestra playing
the opening horn call to the overture to the scene of a brilliant
afternoon sun shining on the expanse.
Second Movement: The
Colors of Autumn
The second movement is of relaxation and wonder of the spectacular color change in the forest. For the most part this movement is very tranquil but there are several climaxes of brilliant colors.
This movement was composed between 1974 and 1975 and was the
first movement of the work to be completed. I often worked on it
in my mind as I drove on I-65 between Athens and Birmingham. A
piano sketch was recorded on Sept 28, 1975. A literal
transcription of the piano recording was entered as a Cakewalk
file in the mid 1990s. After the other movements were
completed as Cakewalk files, considerable revisions were made to
the file during the period between August 24 and September 6,
2003. Although fine for piano, this form did not play well on the
statistical orchestra I use. The revisions involved octave
translations, correcting some chord errors, and restructuring
chords for full orchestral effect. A brief repeat of one theme
was eliminated in the concluding section.
On a sunny afternoon
The movement begins as the wanderer enjoys a perfect day in
early autumn. The sky is bright with a few rolling clouds and
there is a slight breeze. There is a hint of leaves turning
colors. The frolic theme from the first movement is now very
relaxed. In the next theme an eagle soars over a mountain lake.
This section ends with an explosion of color and majesty followed
by a slow and tranquil theme of peace as the wanderer takes a
The southward migration
The music anticipates the winter storms that will be coming
with the first storm of autumn. There is a sense of urgency and
fright as the southward migration escapes the impending grasp of
winter. The wanderer is also making preparations for winter and a
derivative of the frolic theme conveys his efforts to understand
all of this. Play and intelligence are interrelated. Thus, a
variation of the frolic theme serves as a deep thinking theme and
is used here and in subsequent movements.
The color's majesty
The music begins joyously after the sad close to the previous
section. The colors are at the peak. The wanderer observes all of
this and tries to resolve inner conflicts about this magnificent
spectacle being the result of death. The music is very mysterious
and magical. Color after color is seen until the music climaxes
with the opening theme as beauty takes dominance over the
concerns about death.
Sunset by a mountain lake
The peaceful theme that opened the movement is heard again and
now gradually fades as the sun sets. The wanderer settles in for
the night by the lake.
Third Movement: The Moods
The third movement looks to find meaning of winter. The music goes through the moods of fright, contemplation, play, and death. Much of the music is harsh and bitter and is difficult to listen to. But, winter is a difficult time of year.
This was the last movement to be completed. A lot of work was
done in 2002 and 2003 and the first complete draft was finished
on August 23, 2003. The structure of the third movement dates
back to the early 1980s.
The music opens with the Titan theme and a major storm
announces the onset of winter. The rain blows fiercely in the
high gusts of wind. The rain evolves into a heavy snow storm.
This is followed by the migration theme from the second movement
and a tragic version of the trek theme from the first movement.
The Hymn to Nature theme now heard in a minor key and concludes
this section. The mood is that of gloom and despair. Any animal
that was late in preparing for winter is now frantically trying
to complete the job.
The storms have subsided and all is quiet. There is no
evidence of life anywhere. Snow covers everything and the sky is
gloomily overcast. The only sound is that of a very cold breeze
through the trees. The mood is sad and lonely. The wanderer
contemplates why all the grandeur and life of summer has become
an apparent wasteland. This is the most introspective music in
the work. The music is simple and quiet consisting only of
woodwinds and strings. The desolation begins to take on a certain
beauty. Although everything seems wrong there is something
mysteriously very right about all of this.
A peaceful snow
The snow theme (composed in 1969) captures the peace and
tranquillity of new snow falling in the pre-dawn hours and then
into early morning. The gray sky gradually clears and the music
Frolic in the snow
A trumpet call announces that it is time to come out and play.
The sun is brilliant and the mood is joyous and energetic as the
animals and the wanderer frolic in the snow. The music is very
rhythmic and crisp and has the quality of haunting the mind - it
is very hard to let the theme and its subordinates go. To bring
the hypnosis of the music to a close I used a brief form of the
shift of rhythm method similar to how Jean Sibelius ended his
Fifth Symphony (I have heard a number of criticisms of that
ending and the first time I heard it I did not understand it
either. But I later realized why Sibelius did it that way and the
ending makes perfect sense.).
The mood is now of sad desperation. The music opens suddenly
and harshly as the bitter cold and lack of food is taking its
toll. The movement ends with the Titan theme played with extreme
dissonance representing cold desperation and death.
Fourth Movement: The
Blossoms of Spring
In the fourth movement the wanderer learns many things leading up to the revelation of Nature. The music is a joyous celebration of life and is the most fast paced and complicated both musically and in the story line of all the movements. There are three endings. The very grand first ending is how the wanderer feels while still enjoying the luxury of ignorance prior to the revelation. The serene second ending is the revelation. In the very triumphant third ending, Nature celebrates the resolve of the wanderer to teach his complete understanding to humankind so that all can enjoy the Utopia that has always been present but obscured by humankind's intent on self deification.
The concluding third ending was composed in 1969. The rest of
the movement was completed in late 1981 combining work done in
previous years. A piano recording of the movement was made on
February 13, 1982. This was the second movement to be completed.
The piano recording was transcribed to a Cakewalk file in the mid
1990s and was later refined for orchestral performance on
New life on the meadows
The movement begins with a pastoral setting as a bright
trumpet call plays a new variation on the opening phrase of the
Hymn to Nature theme. Then the full orchestra joins in a
celebration of all the colors and life that are appearing on the
hillsides. All the wildlife are now up and about with new
offspring that are learning about the world. A triumphal march
announces a reunion of the wildlife society that will be
associated for the coming summer. The trek theme is recalled as
the wanderer is once again in great stride. After the opening
call of this section is heard one last time the music builds in
transition to the celebration that the migration of last fall is
The migration returns
A march announces the return of the southern migration. This march is somewhat reminiscent of the southward migration theme from the second movement but is now triumphant and is in the odd time signature for a march of 7/4 and 5/4 (I have considered referring to this as the syncopated march). Everything is growing rapidly to restore the majesty of the approaching summer. There is a feeling of triumph and celebration as the closing theme of the first ending makes its appearance. The wanderer is in awe of the incredible beauty and intricacy of it all. So much is working together in perfect harmony.
After the music builds to a climax, the frolic theme is heard
slowly and resolutely in the depths of the orchestra as the music
becomes serene as the wanderer contemplates all that is around. A
variation of the frolic theme is heard magically and mysteriously
as Nature communicates much understanding to the wanderer and the
pace of the music picks up. The music becomes triumphant as the
wanderer now believes he has achieved the goal of
First ending: The joy of ignorance
A very grandeur coda builds to the first ending. The wanderer
feels as one with all of Nature. Nature is a beautiful and
wonderful place that is eternal. Surely there can be no higher
climax than what is taking place now. It seems as if the
wanderer's journey and the music as well are now
Confusion over death
Then the wanderer sees the carcass of the mountain goat of
last summer. He notices that other creatures from last summer are
also missing. Even some of the majestic trees did not survive
winter. How could such a perfect place have such tragedy? The
wanderer sadly recalls earlier times while trying to make sense
of this. Clearly, he has missed something in his quest. In his
despair he looks up and is drawn to the most grand vista yet as
long yearning tones in the upper orchestral registers hint at a
resolution. It is a brilliantly colored hillside dotted with huge
boulders next to a dense forest leading up to sublime mountain
peaks. The music picks up as he is compelled to run up the
hillside on a trail beside the steam. About halfway up he turns
to see the grand view below. The music once again becomes very
majestic and rapidly builds to a concluding loud and sustained
clashing chord (as Bruckner might have done) composed of both
major and minor elements representing the great inner conflict
the wanderer has at the moment trying to reconcile great beauty
with great tragedy.
Second ending: The Revelation
There is a very dense thicket beside the stream that attracts
his attention. The brush is so thick that it is very difficult to
enter but there is something about this thicket that draws him
in. Then he notices something strange. The light should be dim in
such a dense forest but it is not. There is light everywhere.
Even though the light is very brilliant it is not blinding. The
music becomes very serene. He proceeds deeper into the forest and
then sees a very strange sight. All the vegetation now transforms
into the spirit image of every creature that has ever lived.
Predator and prey sit beside each other in harmony now that they
are no longer bound by mortal bodies. He sees the spirit of the
mountain goat of last summer standing tall. The wanderer then
notices an individual sitting in the midst of all these spirits -
it is his unseen guide! The guide is obviously very old but has
everlasting youth. He is smiling and is very proud of the
wanderer for taking the time to journey through and learn about
Nature. The wanderer now realizes that the unseen guide has been
God himself. As has been before, no words are ever spoken but a
great understanding takes place in the mind of the wanderer. He
now understands the full cycle of life and death and how all of
Nature works in harmony and that all life is interdependent on
other life. His friends of last summer are not gone - their
spirits live on in all the new life of this year and years to
come. Every living thing has a purpose in mortal life and that
life itself is only a part of the grand scheme. Death is the
transformation of life into a different entity and all present
life depends on past life and all future life depends on present
life. Life itself is everlasting but in different forms. All life
has a right to be. Killing is proper or necessary only if done to
sustain other life. Nature has been revealed. God and Nature are
one in the same. Man made religions may come and go but Nature is
eternal. The revelation music marks the second ending to the
finale and concludes in total serenity.
Third ending: The great resolve and Nature's celebration
The wanderer emerges from the forest and continues walking up the trail beside a stream now with the complete understanding that he was seeking. The music is flowing with the water and begins with a variation to the Hymn to Nature. This variation then evolves into a simple duet. Then the full orchestra triumphantly plays the Hymn to Nature for the final time. The Titan theme is heard majestically and evolves to the great resolution theme as the wanderer resolves henceforth to work with Nature and to teach his understanding to the rest of humankind. From the top of the hillside the wanderer sees Nature in full glory and celebration from the snow covered mountain peaks above to the lush green valleys below. The wanderer and all of Nature together celebrate and rejoice the successful conclusion to the long journey. The music to this third and final ending is the grandest of all - for when Nature celebrates, the music must be grand and becomes a spine chilling, bring the house down conclusion. The work ends with the orchestra triumphantly playing the B-flat major chord as loud as possible. The chord is topped off with a solo trumpet playing the high B-flat note.
And then there is a brief period of silence as the listener is
transported out of the world of Nature and back into the world of
humankind. This silence is as awe inspiring as the loudness of
the conclusion and is an important part of the work. During this
silence the listener should bring all their thoughts and feelings
from this epic journey together to establish how they will
henceforth relate to Nature. The epilogue to this story is now up
to the listener.
Thematic links to other works
I recently realized that although the melodies are completely
different, one of two slightly different forms of a common
rhythmic pattern from the opening phrase of the Hymn to Nature
theme in my work is identical to several other works concerning
Nature. One is the opening phrase of the main theme of
Sequoia and another is the main theme of An Alpine
Symphony. There are two links of this theme to
Beethoven's sixth symphony (Pastoral). The first
occurs in a repeating phrase of a prominent fast paced fragment
of the opening theme in the latter half of the first movement.
The second is the opening phrase of the main theme in the fifth
movement. Although I am not sure what to make of it, I find it
interesting that this pattern appears in four works concerning
Nature. Perhaps this is just a common pattern that occurs in a
lot of music. There is also a partial thematic link in a theme in
The Blossoms of Spring (and used in the overture) to
the themes in the Sunset movement of The
Suite. I discovered this in the early 1980s and
considered making a revision but decided that the link was pure
coincidence as the path I took with the theme was very different
from the path Grofe took. There is a thematic similarity of the
Titan theme to the opening theme of Dedicatory Overture
Clifton Williams. This is really not so unusual as both themes
are based on the same common sequence of major and minor thirds
(every other white note on the piano) and so should sound
similar. I was in the process of forming the Titan theme when I
first heard Dedicatory Overture which immediately
one of my favorite works for band so my thoughts were surely
influenced by that.
The mp3 files of all the movments are located at the top of this page. The score of each movement that has been fully orchstrated is also available as a pdf.