Under the Stars – Barry Mills – Vol. 2 – CC4324


“Satisfied as we can be with these heroic Claudio recordings, Mills must move to take more centre-stage, and orchestrally really breathe the large concert hall air he’s heir to, as it were”

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The settings of all Eight Haiku are linked together to create a continuous piece of music. The first two are concerned with moon-viewing whilst the six which follow trace the passage of the seasons from spring to winter. Poem 2 is by Miura Chora, whilst all the others are by Basho.

  1. Clouds now and then Giving men relief From moon-viewing.
  2. You watch – it’s clouded You don’t watch, and it’s clear When you view the moon.
  3. Spring: A hill without a name. Veiled in morning mist.
  4. The cuckoo Its call Stretching across the water.
  5. Withered grass Under piling Heat waves
  6. Still baking down The sun, not regarding The wind of autumn.
  7. Autumn Even the birds And clouds look old.
  8. Year’s end All corners Of this floating world, swept.

Transitions. This piece attempts to reflect in music six haiku arranged in the sequence quoted below. It is composed as one movement, hence musical ideas are transformed and juxtaposed throughout the piece to create a musical whole.

  1. Through the mists veiling The dimly seen mountains My ear faintly catches The sad belling of a deer. Priest Saigyo
  2. The evening hour: An autumn wind from the field Pierces deep into my heart; And the quails cry In the thickets of Hukagusa. Hujiwara No Toshinari
  3. In the twilight of the evening I am always sad When I hear the bell I do not know Whether I shall be able to hear it again tomorrow. Izimu Shikibu
  4. Bright moonlight Shines the whole night through Around the pond. Basho
  5. Full of power The waves roll in thunder Tearing, dashing Breaking On the rocks of the shore. Priest Saigyo
  6. The Ocean bed of my soul Is deep Neither joy Nor the wave of sorrow can there arise. Kitarc Nishida.

Landscapes: The title of this piece derives from a visual model I had in mind during its composition: to begin with a picture of a whole landscape and then to zoom in on and explore in detail features within this, returning finally to viewing the whole landscape. To achieve this musically, the opening of the piece presents lots of different musical fragments. These fragments are then combined and developed in different ways in a number of “episodes”, each episode having its own musical character. The end of the piece is marked by a repetition of part of the opening.

The Pavilion Gardens: An impression of the Pavilion Gardens in Brighton where I worked for a number of years.

In the Mist: I stayed in a hill town near Granada some years ago and every morning looking down into the valley there was mist which kept thinning out and building up in different ways providing ever-changing partial views of the valley. I sought to evoke this spectacle in this piece. Here is an example of the procedures I adopted to achieve this: a chord is presented as a whole, then a few notes of the chord, then one note of the chord so in this way the chord is gradually “obscured” or lost.

Chief Seattle Fragments: The text is drawn from one of Chief Seattle’s speeches. The town of Seattle on the Pacific coast of the USA is named after him.

Yonder sky that has wept tears of compassion upon my people for centuries untold, and which to us appears changeless and eternal, may change. Today is fair. Tomorrow it may be overcast with clouds. My words are like the stars which never change.

There was a time when our people covered the land as the waves of a wind-ruffled sea cover its shell paved floor, but that time long since passed away with the greatness of tribes that are now but a mournful memory… But why should I mourn at the untimely fate of my people? Tribe follows tribe, and nation follows nation, like the waves of the sea. It is the order of nature and regret is useless. Your time of decay may yet be distant, but it will surely come, for even the White Man whose God walked and talked with him as friend with friend, cannot be exempt from the common destiny. We may be brothers after all, we will see.

And when the last Red Man shall have perished, and the memory of my tribe shall have become a myth among the White Men, these shores will swarm with the invisible dead of my tribe, and when your children’s children think themselves alone in the field, the store, the shop, upon the highway or in the silence of the pathless woods, they will not be alone… In all the earth there is no place dedicated to solitude. At night when the streets of your cities and villages are silent and you think them deserted, they will throng with the returning hosts that once filled them and still love this beautiful land… The White Man will never be alone. Let him be just and deal kindly with my people, for the dead are not powerless. Dead did I say. There is no death, only a change of worlds.


Guitar Sketches: This piece has five movements: Across Water, Summer Wind, Rain, Fireworks and Under the Stars. I have tried to explore the huge range of-tone colour and special effects which can be obtained from the guitar in these pieces and am grateful to Paul Gregory and Paul Sparks for their advice on guitar technique.

Duo for Violin and Guitar: The violin is muted throughout this piece. The form of the music is articulated primarily through the changing nature of the dialogue between the two instruments.


Eight Haiku: Poems 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 are reproduced by permission of Penguin Books Ltd from The Penguin Book of Japanese Verse translated by Geoffrey Bownas and Anthony Thwaite (Penguin Books 1964) copyright © Geoffrey Bownas and Anthony Thwaite 1964.

Poems 5, 7 and 8 are quoted from The Penguin Book of Zen Poetry translated by Lucien Stryk and Takashi Ikemoto (Penguin Books 1977) with kind permission from Lucien Stryk.

Transitions: All the poems are reproduced from Zen in Japanese Art by Toshimitsa Hasumi, translated from the German by John Petri, published by Routledge and Kegan Paul 1962 by permission of Routledge.

Chief Seattle Fragments: The text is taken from Indian Oratory: Famous Speeches by Noted Indian Chieftains compiled by W. C. Vanderwerth, Copyright 1971 by the University of Oklahoma Press with kind permission from the University of Oklahoma Press.

I would like to thank the following for all their help and support during the production of this CD: Amelia Mills, Colin Attwell, Michael Finnissy, Colin Matthews, Julius Tabacek, Simon Mathews and Mike Mussell.

© Barry Mills.

This CD was produced with financial assistance from the Holst Foundation and Tony Sions.


Barry Mills was born in Plymouth in 1949 and is for the most part self-taught as a composer. He obtained a degree in Biochemistry from Sussex University in 1971 and returned to Sussex to pursue an MA in music in 1976-77 studying Analysis with David Osmond-Smith and David Roberts and Composition with Colin Mathews and Ann Boyd. His present lifestyle consists of working as delivery postman in Brighton, an early morning job, and composing in the afternoons.

**Composers Website

Further releases on Claudio:

CC4318-2/CD Morning Sea – Barry Mills – Vol.1

CC4324-2/CD Under the Stars – Barry Mills – Vol.2

CC4325-2/CD Mosaics  – Barry Mills – Vol.3

CC5153-2/CD Summer Waves – Barry Mill – Vol.4

CC6040-2/CD &  BD/-6 Elan Valley – Barry Mills – Vol.5

CC6044-2/CD & BD/-6 Interbeing – Barry Mills – Vol.6


Review: I – Music Web International

Mills’ use of the mezzo voice is, however, far more angular – and haunted. The Eight Haiku – seven by Basho, one by Muira Chora, and the Chief Seattle Fragments, are remarkable in understanding the true proviso that really only fragments of words can truly be set: that to really set a poem you have to destroy it, as in Pli SeIon Pli. Mills more compassionately sets haiku and lets these float over the voice, so again the atmosphere can both hyperventilate in its intensity, and release itself. The melismas of the setting are more important in their nuance than their individual word: a paradox since Mills possesses a jewel-like technique and is never blurred. The truth is that the haiku as a form sets up a final line as release mechanism, and isn’t about word painting or articulating imagined worlds in quite the way other longer pieces are. Much of the intensity can be subsumed in an inflection, a kind of pay-off in music. Simon Jenner.