John Gordon Armstrong

Canadian Composer



Ghosts was commissioned by guitarist Norbert Kraft with the support of the Canada Council. It was designed to be used either as a set of individual studies (for intermediate to very advanced students) or as a virtuoso concert piece. Each study is dedicated to someone who has influenced my music in some way, as a teacher, a performer, a friend or, in one case, a former student. Each is prefaced with an epigraph in the form of a Haiku.

These studies have been played a lot by a number of different guitarists including William Beauvais, Lynn Harting, Christopher Teves, and of course, myself. They range in difficulty from easy (“Reflections”) to virtuoso (“Ghost Dance” and “Desert Winds”). They are eclectic in style and designed to be played singly or in any combination. They are designed, however, to be played in order as a unit. I have done them that way, or as two groups of five or in other combinations. They are versatile and good audience pleasers.

I premiered Ghosts on November 13, 1988, in Paine Hall at Harvard University. The recordings below are from my 2017 CD, although I have left the earlier version of “Desert Winds” for comparison. Compare also this video  of “Distant Dreams” using William Beauvais’ recording on his Album Traces:


Composed in 1987 for guitar
Ten Studies
Duration: 25 minutes
Intermediate to Very Difficult/Accessible

Movement 1: Shadows

Movement 2: Strange Sounds

Movement 3: Evening Shade

Movement 4: Sudden Storm

Movement 5: Ghost Dance

Movement 6: Reflections

Movement 7: Darkness Swirling

Movement 8: So Still

Movement 9: Desert Winds (1990)

Movement 9: Desert Winds (2017)

Movement 10: Distant Dreams