Writing notes where they’re played, or where they sound???????

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    Tony- Very well stated. My remark about Salzedo and personality is derived from that fact that there was a looooooong history of notating harmonics where they are played. Salzedo’s changing that for his own music, and then telling everybody else to follow him has only added mass confusion to an issue where there was none before.

    I also agree with Elizabeth, that I want to see(easily) where to put my hands. I can much more easily figure out what the sound is supposed to be than I can figure out(quickly) where my hands and fingers are supposed to go.

    Let me tell you a little story. When I was doing the final editing of Une Chatelaine en sa Tour… I decided to ask Emily Mitchel to look it over. She had just recorded the piece, and I had never seen anyone else’s edition. I wanted to be sure that I was not doing something in my edition that someone else was going to have trouble with. So I called Emily and asked her to send me a copy of her working edition, and that I would send her a copy of mine. Several days after exchanging our versions, we had a telephone conference. We went through the piece line by line, and Emily mentioned several times that in those areas where it’s very unclear which hand plays which notes, she tended to pick up more notes with her left hand, whereas I tended to pick them up with the right. “But you have to remember,” she said,”that I’m left handed.”

    We got to the Listesso Tempo section in the middle of the piece, which has the most difficult pedals in the whole piece. I had rewritten most of it enharmonically, which made the pedaling simpler, but more importantly eliminates many buzzes and pedal slides. “Your Listesso Tempo is pure genious,” she said. “I’m going to relearn that page using your edition.” “You’re kidding,” I said. “You just recorded it.” “I’m not kidding,” she said. “Yours is so much easier.” The point is, the printed music should tell you, in the simplest possible terms, how to play the piece. The performer can figure out the harmonic theory


    Well, I just don’t agree with that. But that’s your choice, and that’s why we can have multiple editions of pieces. I believe I also used enharmonic flats for the sharps in that section. I don’t find the number of pedal changes to be so daunting in that piece, but I was able to eliminate some, for certain. The best cure for pedaling challenges is to learn Scintillation. After that, everything else is reasonable.

    I don’t think I have seen harmonics notated as sounding in orchestra parts, it would be a surprise there.


    I have seen


    Salzedo’s greatest contribution to the harp world was the pedal diagram. That was pure genius. When something is a good idea, people grasp it willingly and immediately, and that’s what happened with the pedal diagram. As for his negative impact on the harp world, as seen by many non-Salzedo harpists, well, there isn’t enough space here to deal with that.


    Personally I prefer when harmonics are written where performed, I would rather have my mind reading the note I have to perform and then just focus on plucking it in a different manner, rather than having to think of shifting octaves too

    However i’m worried regarding two particular posts… One my Carl… you said… we’re loooooooooosing history…. Pardon me???? when do we have to stay conservatively blocked in history… there were times, where harps didn’t have pedals, and we moved on… there were times where music was chant, then all tonal… now we’ve moved to atonality, 12 note music and a million other structure, its all history, we appreciate it, understand the ability of composers and musicians of the eras, understand their influences and their aim of writing their music, but move on… I don’t agree with the idea of losing history, we are living in our era, not others, and if its time for change, we should go on with it.

    Someone said, sorry am forgetting the names that Salzedo presented something to the world and kind of asked the world to follow his ideas… no way… If you don’t like the idea… trash it.. full stop, all you have to do is buy editions that notate harmonics where they are performed and just move on… nobody can impose anything on anyone, and its only the losers who follow, and not make up their own mind on a subjuct.

    Rosemarie said that she didn’t care less regarding Salzedo (or any other composers for the argument’s sake) ego or naughtiness as you’re calling it… I think that’s a deadly mistake. Try performing works by what you’re calling naughty composers in a virgin manner, and check whether you end up with a total *%)$$_)^


    Dear Esmeralda,

    Yes, I know what you mean – you cannot divorce the music from the composer – it’s like taking it out of context of the period. I didn’t quite mean the way it came out…I suppose I was being defensive about Salzedo method. I find that quite often harpists will attack Salzedo’s music, technique and ideas based on what his personality was like. And also use this to attack Salzedo players themselves, now, today. And I sometimes get a little irritated by all the Salzedo bashing….


    Well… I was just taking a point from your post and sharing my view on the subject in matter… If you took it personally, it wasn’t on my agenda.


    +++I sometimes get a little irritated by all the Salzedo bashing…+++

    Well now you know what it’s like to have the shoe on the other foot! For 40 years I have had to listen to many(but not all!)Salzedo teachers and many(but not all!) Salzedo students make snide and demeaning remarks about anyone who doesn’t play Salzedo method. “Well, of course you can’t hear her, she’s got no sound at all.” “If you don’t play Salzedo method you have no chance of getting an orchestra job.” That one was put up on a harp chatroom by a college level harp teacher! “If you don’t play Salzedo Method, you simply can’t get any sound out of the left hand.” That is a direct quote from Lucile Lawrence! “Well I understand that the orchestra is already trying to get rid of her. They realize they’ve made a bad mistake.” I have sat at the kitchen table in Camden and listened silently as several former students of Alice, names you would instantly recognize, make the above remarks. When I’ve heard performances at a Harp Society Conference, the Salzedo harpists make glowing remarks about the Salzedo players on the program. The non-Salzedo players are not even on the radar screen. It’s as if they didn’t even play. I’ve attended all but 5 of the harp conferences since 1975 and I can’t think right now of a single exception to this. Sorry to spout off like this, but you really touched a raw nerve.


    Well, aren’t you doing exactly the same? How does that make it any better? We are entitled to a taste for harp playing, and there is more often than not at least a grain of truth in what is said. Generally speaking, nonSalzedo harpists have not been as audible in orchestra, and a lot of them do not play loud enough with their left hand to balance with the right hand. I say that based on the many recitals I attended, and I won’t name names, but it was mainly the students from a particular school.

    Anyway, if you were privileged to listen in on what are intimate conversations within our circle, you should not be repeating them here! Everyone has their own gossip. I heard more than plenty of crap flowing the other way, so how about let’s drop all of it, except for honest, truthful statements and clearly identified meaningful


    I think we had a similar discussion on another thread, some time ago. I have heard great harpists from every school of technique. In my view, there is no “one-size-fits-all” technique that works for everyone. I cherry-pick from all of them and I believe I’m not alone. Why not? Learning technique is like a game of “telephone” where the message gets further and further from the original, the longer it is passed on. As long as your technique is allowing you to play comfortably, achieve all the musical ideas you have, produce gorgeous sound, etc., does it have to have a label? This is like the Brahms-Wagner controversy.


    Thanks Elizabeth. Very well said.


    Which controversy is that?


    Conventions change- I believe when Tournier was writing it was the convention amongst French composers that music be notated theoretically (Vers la Source dans le Bois it wasn’t until page three I found a bar without enharmnic changes!).


    That’s probably true Tacye. It may in fact be Salzedo who was the first to write things down the way the harpist would want to see them(not counting the harmonics issue). If I think back on all of the music I’ve played, he was probably the first one to write everything down. There is very little editing to do when one plays a transcription or composition by Salzedo, provided you agree with what he decided. If that is true(that he was the first to notate what the harpist really needed to see) then that is an enormous contribution.

    I can’t think of any 19th century publications or working editions of harp music that I’ve seen that had pedals, fingering, etc. written in. Maybe some of you English harpists can shed some light on that.


    I googled the Brahms-Wagner controversy and this was from the Milwaukee Symphony’s web site: (there were many other sites!)

    During his lifetime (1833- ’97), Brahms stood at one pole of a bitter ideological split in German music.

    Opposed, among others, were critics Richard Pohl and George Bernard
    Shaw and composers Franz Liszt, Richard Strauss and Richard Wagner.
    They stood ready to blow up the classical traditions and in favor of
    the most radical personal expression. For these and other Wagnerians,
    repetitive, symmetrical, Classical forms were obsolete, and open-ended
    tone poems and epic, multi-media operas were the paths to the future.
    Myth and the novel, more than Mozart and Beethoven, provided their

    One can’t judge Wagner’s opera ‘Lohengrin’ after a first hearing, and I certainly don’t intend hearing it a second time.

    – Johannes Brahms

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