Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Harpology 101
A reckless adventure into composing for the Harp

Wagner reckoned he wrote "music of the future", and performers insisted that Stravinsky's Rite of Spring was "unplayable". Nowadays, these pieces are standard repertoire. Maybe that will also be the case with my new piece for harp.

Connect your device to a decent sound system or enclosed headphones, and click the orange PLAY button...

Alternatively, you could listen to the music at its URL:
If you wish, you can read the score (in pdf format) here .
This link will open in its own window so you can scroll through while listening to the music.  Both the score and the recording are free and downloadable.
I'm a self-confessed novice at the hazardous task of writing for the concert/pedal harp (hence the title of the piece!), and to an experienced harpist that will probably become obvious. By way of parallel, as an [ex-] performer on the classical guitar, I can confirm the immense difficulties for the non-performer of writing idiomatically.
In fact, I would truly appreciate any constructive feedback from bona-fide harp-ophonists. I anticipate that you'll demand "Where are the #@! pedal indications?" or "Can you please edit out those impossible chromatic runs" , or "Go find a harp therapist!", etc, and I shall have to hang my head in guilt. But the notes that I wrote are the notes that my Ears wanted: they overruled my Head. If, as a consequence, this music only ever gets heard via my computer-synthesized rendition, then so-be-it, I suppose. I could get lucky - someone might invent a fully chromatic harp with automatic transmission (plus air-con?). But by 1890, that had been tried already (a double harp, but minus the air-con). And can you imagine how awkward it might be to negotiate the forest of strings in this triple harp. Today, the harp repertoire still has an (undeserved) reputation of being a tad trite and a little stale: I'd like to think that Harpology 101 could be seen as a nudge in a slightly more adventurous (if challenging) direction. That's my excuse...
The music is in palindromic form with the slow central Cantabile section in pride of place at the mid-point or axis. Harmony is predominantly quartal/quintal. Melodic style in the early and later sections is quite giddyingly disjunct, often leaping around in fourths. In the central slow section, however, the intervals iron out into a more conventional linear style which, by the sudden contrast, sounds relatively 'romantic'.

1 comment:

  1. You're welcome at the Pearly Gates any ol' time - St Peter and the angels