“Thinking like a mountain” is a term coined by Aldo Leopold in his influential book A Sand County Almanac. In the section entitled “Sketches Here and There” Leopold discusses the thought process as a holistic view on where one stands in the entire ecosystem.

The essay “Thinking Like A Mountain” crystallizes Aldo Leopold’s philosophy about the balance of nature and our ethical relationship towards its preservation. It is the personal confession of one who momentarily upset that balance and whose remorse became the catalyst which prompted him to become a leader in the environmental movement.

In setting this powerful essay, I wanted to paint a portrait of the mountain. I was fascinated by the overlapping life cycles of the many elements which shared the mountain’s space, from the slow progression of the rocks to the flickering instant of the insects. They simultaneously inhabited the same world and I saw a parallel in the music, where multiple tempos and melodic lines can co-exist. Rather than illustrating the literal sound effects of nature, this music seeks to give voice to an inner natural order built on the primary elements of acoustics as described by Pythagoras. At this level, mathematics and the natural order have much in common with the structure of mountains. This composition was commissioned by a consortium including Explore Park in Virginia, The Billings Symphony in Montana, The Elgin Symphony in Illinois and the Shanghai Symphony in China.

 

Thinking Like A Mountain
By Victoria Bond
Composed in 1994