Hive Mind


View Perusal Score
Symphony Orchestra
Duration: c. 15 mins
Note: This is a digital score and parts (PDF) and licences for all performers

SKU: SDM901 Category:


I am fascinated by the centuries-long tradition of using the orchestra as a metaphor—for heavenly choirs, civil society, the army, the human body, nature, machines—so I wanted the input of the Kensington Symphony Orchestra to update the metaphor of the orchestra for the twenty-first century; to this end, I devised a survey where the players suggested modern metaphors for the orchestra, which included the brain, a giant jigsaw, a multi-layered conversation, the European Union, and a railway terminal. Most of the suggestions, however, chimed with my own idea for an orchestral metaphor, of a collective intelligence or a unified consciousness, a Hive Mind.

I wanted to convey this idea of swarm intelligence by giving the music the appearance of a natural emergent process. An emergent process is that by which larger patterns arise through interactions among smaller and simpler entities. Think of an elaborate ant-hill ‘cathedral’, or the regular patterns of the Giant’s Causeway, or the ripples of sand on a beach—all examples of emergent structure in nature. Thus, the music consists of individual repeated melodic cells that are interwoven to create a larger pattern. No larger pattern, however, repeats exactly; in each of the piece’s three sections the repeated interactions of the smaller parts always combine to progress from chaos to order.

Hive Mind opens with iridescent waves of sound, that gently break over each other, which eventually coalesce. Momentum builds until the swarm breaks into an off-kilter dance. Malcontents rebel against the hive, and struggle against its constrictions but are soon subsumed back into the hive mind.The delicate flute solo that begins Debussy’s L’après-midi d’un faune is co-opted into the role of an alarm call that summons the hive to swarm once more.

Additional information






Over 5:00


There are no reviews yet.

Be the first to review “Hive Mind”