Indian Earth, after a book of poetry by Santa Fe poet Witter Bynner, explores the mystical cultures and resplendent terrain of the American Southwest. An underlying tenor ofthis collection is the complex relationship between the earth and humanity, and metaphorically the discord between native and colonial peoples. Bynner captures the essence of these relationships in this way:
"It is the earth itself that hems you round against intruders alien to the earth, that brings you heaven under a shadowy tree, curves heaven to your arm and lets you lie close to its living thorn. The crown is yours, not theirs. You know the one divinity, the only death, the offering of the heart to the cruel earth, the love, the consummation."
The three movements of the work progress from a quiet melancholy to exuberance, from darkness to light. Frahm makes use of an architectural approach to music composition in this piece, as in the building of an adobe wall brick by brick. Self-contained musical structures, often in four bar units, are symmetrically arranged as a technique of musical development. The final movement, ´Alleluias´, is based in part on plainchant tone 6 from the Graduale Romanum.