The Preservation Series began in 2016 with a commission from Slagwerk Den Haag for a new work to be notated on a single page. As someone fascinated by music notation, and its extraordinary power, I leapt at the challenge. While walking through the local park in mid-August that summer, a butterfly flitted past. It immediately struck me that the information, the beauty, and the sheer life-force contained therein surpassed anything that might be contained on a piece of paper. And so the Preservation Series began. The series consists of five unique works to-date, each written for close associates and friends, those whose own musical language and creativity I value and respect. Each work consists of a single preserved, or group of preserved butterflies or moths, accompanied by a simple set of instructions for ‘reading’ them.

On the surface the series is a set of graphic notation works that add a poetic form of biomimicry as a prompt to inspire improvisation. But it also deals with the futility of creativity in the face of the perfection of nature. Surrounded by natural beauty and structure this sublime it asks what it means to continue producing (products but also art and music), in this age of environmental crisis. The seeming fragility, and weightlessness of the butterflies is counterpointed by their formal strength, and acts as a hopeful inspiration for a way forward.

Preservation (The Madagascan Sunset Moth) - Pete Harden - dedicated to Slagwerk Den Haag
Preservation (Mountain Blue Butterfly) - Pete Harden - dedicated to Aart Strootman
Preservation (Pearl Morpho) - Pete Harden - dedicated to Vicky Chow & Saskia Lankhoorn
Preservation (Five Dutch Butterflies) - Pete Harden - dedicated to Geert Bieling & the Doelen Flentrop Organ
Preservation (Four Small Tortoiseshells & a Painted Lady) - Pete Harden - dedicated to Vanessa Lann
Scroll to Top