For me, the idiom of the Alto Flute and Guitar has a very surreal, dreamlike quality. Ghost Dances is, therefore, made up of ideas which are only hinted at and material which remains fragmentary rather than ever being played in full. The piece is based around several ancient dances: Pavane, Minuet, Gavotte, Gigue, Courante and Sarabande. Various features of these dances are used; however each dance is broken up and distorted in such a way so that only the essence of each dance remains – they are simply ghosts of their originals.
When I was writing the piece, I was conscious of the two different characters of the Alto Flute and Guitar. The two instruments very much have their own roles during the piece. The opening is a prelude for solo Flute. Fragments of material, which are developed later on during the piece, are fleetingly introduced, before the Guitar breaks the spell and leads into the main section.
A dance can be an intimate thing between two people. However, in these early dances, a distance would have actually been created between the two partners, as it was so formal and regimented. There is, similarly, a distance between the Flute and Guitar for much of the piece, only really being resolved, somewhat inconclusively, in the final bars.