Program notes

Meaning of Water for seven harps, opus 69 (2006)

The Meaning of Water is an eight-minute piece for seven harps commissioned by Alice Giles for her harp ensemble, SHE. The work was written with assistance from ArtsACT in December 2005 and January 2006.  The potentially unusual sonorities of seven harps in ensemble seemed fitting for a piece with this title.

The title, The Meaning of Water, is one I have had in mind for four or five years since first considering it as possibly appropriate for a piece I wrote for choir and orchestra to a text by Margaret Scott. That piece eventually became Southern Ocean instead.  I like the symbolic and literal aspects implicit in the title, The Meaning of Water.  It strikes me that water, like music, is ineffable and unstoppable and at its best and worst when uncontained and unowned.  A New Zealand based scientist, Veronica Strang, has published a fascinating book with the same title about aspects of water ownership and water’s densely encoded spiritual, environmental and symbolic meanings.

© Andrew Schultz, 2006.


Read Andrew Schultz’s article from 2020 in Naxos Musicology International about the impetus to compose music with a connection to water and its motion, power and symbolic meaning in art. Click on this link to read or download the article: ‘Music and the Meaning of Water,’ NMI 2 May 2020.




The performance below is of a program including The Meaning of Water which  begins at about the 9 minute mark.