Is it just me, or WHAT? A RANT!

Home Forums Forum Archives Professional Harpists Is it just me, or WHAT? A RANT!

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    David Ice

    Thanks, Barbara…I’m off now to the rehearsal.


    All my sympathy.


    Please let us know how the rehearsal goes. We are thinking of you and sending positive thoughts your way!

    David Ice

    Thanks, Cathering.


    David, I’m glad it seems to be turning out OK. You are an example to us all. Your integrity and professionalism went above and beyond what any situation should be. Just remember that old adage; “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.”

    John McK

    What Steven said.

    One of the more galling ironies is that the composer will in all likelihood get praised for the beautiful music, while you did all real composing!

    David Ice

    Well, I played 2 performances of it yesterday.


    Congratulations! I’m sure you were fantastic.


    That’s wonderful you went above the call of duty and pulled it off. It would also have been fine to tell the composer that they need to get a pianist instead because there isn’t time to rework it into a harp part. When harpists encounter a situation like this, I think it is alright to offer your services for pay to edit the harp part for a future performance and have a pianist play it in the immediate future.


    I am spending my Christmas holidays re-writing most of the “harp parts” for a Pops show that shall go un-named. The arranger obviously wrote everything on a computer, because I don’t think this could even be done on a piano. There are some pieces, I kid you not, with a tempo of 176 to the quarter note, that have running 32nd notes going all over the map in unusual patterns that would bring any rhythmic pulse to its knees, even it were playable. Oh, yes, and chromatic scales here and there. I am so glad that I thought to get the music in advance, otherwise I would have gotten this two days before the show, like everyone else. There are no indications as to what is exposed and what is covered in the orchestration. Oh, and one piece was done with all the notes in the treble clef, even though they go down into the C in the bass clef. Meanwhile, the bass staff is empty. I just went over to the computer and re-wrote it on my Sibelius software so that it’s readable. I should be getting copyists’ fees.

    David Ice

    Oh Elizabeth, I feel for you.

    David Ice

    Is there any professional way to refuse to play a part “until a playable part is presented or written?”


    That’s a tough question because there certainly should be a way to refuse, but context would have a big influence in terms of the conductor’s attitude and how dependent the harpist is on the particular gig.

    It is a frustrating problem because there are plenty of musicians needing work, and plenty who are capable of not being incompetent in creating parts. We have more supply than demand for musicians, and so competence should not be the issue. I can understand a composer/arranger making a few mistakes in a score, but I don’t understand composer refusal to adapt parts because a composer never stops learning.

    I would turn down unplayable parts and have, but I’m not in the employ of one orchestra. The difficult aspect is if the harpist is standing alone in their refusal, because it is better to demonstrate that it is a larger problem.

    Remaining calm in potential conflict lends itself to credibility, although can be difficult when under pressure. One diplomatic approach would be to include some kind of compliment about the piece, but then to add specifics about what is not playable on the harp – that the piece has potential, but is not finished, and that it deserves to be heard when it is ready and at its best in terms of playability. Each situation is different and that statement might not always reflect the current scenario or get a positive response. Perhaps it could also help to give the composer/arranger a reference or a copy of a good text for writing for harp. Even if it doesn’t solve the current problem, if it is a person getting performed, perhaps it will help for the next project.


    I think Julietta is on the right track. It’s not enough to simply say, “This part is unplayable!” That will probably make you, the musician, look like a self-centered jerk. But if you cite half a dozen specific reasons or places where the part just doesn’t work, and emphasize that these are just a sampling of the problems in the part, then you might get your message across. Along with the citing of those examples, I would then tell the composer that it will take a number of hours to edit the part and your fee for that will be X per hour, you might then not only get the job of playing the part, but also an added fee for the editing process.
    Musicians are paid little enough already. To add hours and hours of editing the part to the process without being paid is unreasonable. You’d make more money per hour cleaning houses.

    David Ice

    That’s great advice…..and it’s a fine line.

Viewing 15 posts - 16 through 30 (of 38 total)
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