Musical Terrorism

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    Kathleen Elarte

    At the WHC in Amsterdam, Lavinia Meijer played a world premiere of a piece

    of 3 movements composed by Jacob ter Veldhuis, entitled Cities Change the

    Songs of Birds (three urban songs for harp and boom box)

    (1) Lying Piece of Shit about a drug addicted woman, homeless, in the

    David Ice

    BRAVO BRAVO BRAVO Kathy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Thank you for your courage in posting this.

    Christian Frederick

    Kathy…. thanks for speaking up. The worst so-called harp music I’ve ever heard, and offensive to my musicality has been “world premiers” at WHC conventions.

    My question… I read that Suzanne McDonald is the “artistic director”. She is a world class harpist and harp teacher. Why is it that every time I hear this offensive harp music, Suzanne McDonald is the artistic director? Is this from the dark side?


    I’ve been thinking about this very interesting topic for 24 hours (off and on!), and I believe that there are many considerations to be made here.

    I speak often of Kodaly, who was a sort of idol in my mind in terms of pedagogy. Roughly paraphrased, he believed that all “musics” should be taught, but that only the best of all “musics” should be used in teaching.

    I hope it’s comfortable to all of us to put the idea on the table that we all have favorite kinds of music, and prefer it to other kinds, and dislike other kinds, and perhaps strongly dislike them.

    I’m not sure though, if we can allow our sense of what is beautiful and well done


    It sounds like this piece was very offensive.

    Jerusha Amado

    Kathy and Christian,

    I would suggest writing a letter (not email)

    David Ice

    Hi Kimberly and Ann,

    Your arguments are thoughtful and well reasoned, and I do agree with much of what you say.


    At least we may be grateful to the composer and performer for provoking this VERY interesting discussion.

    David, I have what I suppose is a sort of morbid fear of the sort of mind control that allows totalitarian government to ban any sort


    My 5 cents in general:

    There is a very thin border between an avangard music and (pardon) chromatical masturbation about “those sick sad world”. The last one has nothing to music. And a harp, meaning it is healing and peacefull instrument because of it’s acoustic species, is not a brain-crushing instrument. Archetypes? Probably – but you can never imagine bloody drugged ugly punk riping the harp strings. Only in nightmare – but you need to have a sick sad ™ inner world for this. Some archetypes must stay untouched. There are too much shit in a world and there’s NO reason to express it with the only one instrument, which is the incarnated

    Christian Frederick

    Here is a youtube clip that someone posted once before on I think “The Recital” is better than ANYTHING I’ve ever heard in the “New Music” category at WHC conferences.

    David Ice

    Christian, that is DEAD ON…and I swear I’ve heard that piece at a harp conference!!!!


    This has been a facinating thread to read, and I’m glad to see some really thoughtful and well-worded points.

    Two quick thoughts:

    David Ice

    Hi Michael,

    I would agree that there is nothing inherently sacred about the harp.


    You may want to skip this response. It’s from a non-musician (a harp husband, or harp widower, to be precise).

    You have reminded me of a piece comissioned for the AHS convention in Lubbock, Texas, in the 1970’s, which was partially supported by the Institute for Arid and Semiarid Land Studies. That harp work was, appropriately, somewhat more than semi-arid. I haven’t heard of it, much less heard it, since.

    I am also reminded of the Salzedo prelude, musically excellent in my non-professional opinion, called “Lamentation,” composed in the teens of last century. It achieves effects which hard rock bands match only with the help of high-wattage amplification.

    I am one somewhat narrow in taste, but broad in tolerance. To illustrate by analogy, I am a strong supporter of free expression (for adults), including the right to burn the flag, or use it in critical art. Yet I get really worked up when “patriotic citizens” display the flag in violation of simple flag etiquette, as when it might be allowed to become ragged or torn, or dislplayed after sunset without adequate lighting (equivalent of sunlight). So I suppose I’m supporting those of you who spoke of composer’s intent, as well as those who supported the right to walk out.

    Thanks for letting a non-harpist indulge in a bit of nostalgic prattling.

    J Bernard

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