working with composer

Posted In: How To Play

  • Member
    julie-hussar on #185599

    A member one of the community orchestras I play in has written a tone poem that the orchestra will present in April. For the most part he has written a lot of glissandi for the harp as scale glissandi. I have suggested that a 7th glissandi might be more the sound he is looking for. The other problem in in the middle of the piece he makes a major change of key from E flat major to E major giving me less than 1 beat to change all those pedals.
    He is open to suggestions I am looking for advice on how to handle this key shift gracefully. At the end of the piece he has a nice harp cadenza that fortunately is quite playable.

    Member
    julie-hussar on #185610

    Oh good grief the second composer in the same community orchestra sent me his piece for the same concert. It too has a lot of glissandi with major key changes in less than one beat. I guess when they put into their computer program they are using to compose and it has no difficulty with the key change they figure it’s fine.

    Participant
    Alison on #185625

    would this help ? For Eb major, at least put down D# and G# and for Eb VIIth wouldn’t the flattened 7th need a Db so you’d use C#, then you are already ahead. And if not then then move C# and F# for E major straight(F#C#G#D#) and match up with… well you already have Ab, B natural needs fixing, E natural, how does that sound ?? (not at the harp right now) Perhaps I shall consult Scholomitz’s little pink glissando book if I can find it.

    Member
    julie-hussar on #185627

    Yes, Alison P. I believe that would help a lot. Could you also make suggestions for the other composers equally difficult transitions which by the way are all also glissandi? In one measure the transition is from E flat maj to G maj with in 1 beat. Another from F maj to A maj also in 1 beat. And lastly from A flat maj to D maj in one beat.
    I love playing these fellows new music and they are very open to suggestions as neither one knows diddly about writing for the harp. Thanks bunches. Julie

    Participant
    Elizabeth Volpé Bligh on #185639

    Perhaps you could substitute a fast arpeggio or scale glissando to avoid some of the pedal changes. Or suggest to the composer that one of the glissandi be eliminated completely.

    Member
    Janis Cortese on #185675

    Julie, do they know how harps work? Can you give them a look at yours while you walk them through what had to be done to make the thing chromatically capable?

    One of the most illustrative videos I’ve ever seen on how harps work was actually a Harp Tuesday show about pedal changes. You can find it on YouTube if you look for “harp tuesday pedal changes.” The whole video is good as a guideline on what pedals do and how they work, but there’s one particular useful spot.

    About 8:45 in, Layne plays a very chromatic piece by Bach with the camera on his feet instead of his hands, and he’s practically running a steeplechase on the pedals at one point. Just watching that should give a composer new to the harp an idea of what they are asking a player to do when they swap key signatures willy-nilly.

    ETA: Here it is, about 9 minutes in:

    Participant
    Alison on #185699

    well when you get into glissandos, you find that the plain keys and sevenths are not particularly colorful, the prominent glissandos used by the French composers are often diminshed vii’ths, we’ve probably explored this elsewhere on the forum, listen to opening of L’Apres Midi, Balakirev’s pages of glissando’s in the La Bayadere and Ravel’s Tombeau de Couperin, Intro and Allegro…. I’ll keep thinking and adding to this post. Your composers as Elizabeth VB suggests would gain a lot from looking more closely at the harp and other examples……… Walton on the other hand just used glissandos as the flourish in an upbeat not always prominent, even in Henry V’th not in contrast to the orchestra or solo.

    Participant
    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #185706

    Can you substitute F-flat for E major? That might help. Composers need to be told how much time is needed to change pedals. They don’t know.

    Member
    julie-hussar on #185709

    I have spoken with both composers this afternoon. One wants his glissandi to sound muddy the tone poem is about a river so he said the muddier the better. Ah well it is his piece but he did at least say to not play the key change gliss from E flat maj to E maj he will have the violins play it instead. The rest of the piece other than being a gliss party is playable and can’t be all bad as the harp has a nice cadenza at the end.
    The other composer is open to perhaps the dim. 7th gliss but wants to hear how it sounds with the rest of the orchestra fair enough. He said to leave the key change glisses out as they are duplicated else where except for one which I have a couple of measures to prepare for so should be OK.
    Thank you everyone for the excellent suggestions and sharing your knowledge.
    Love the harp Tuesday youtube my old feet can not move that fast!

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