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Find Another Note

October 27, 2016

A problem  with lever harp mechanics arose in the namepiece "Michaela".

In the 4 measure section that merges the parents names, the B lever is down to play  the A#s.  (My harp is tuned in Eb, which means my A string cannot play A# ). When the melody moves from A#(I use the enharmonic Bb, played on the B string for the A#) to B natural, the B lever must be quickly flipped up. It is tricky to do,  and there is also  the impact that the flipping the B lever has on the still-ringing  Bb. 

Because I composed this section at the piano, I didn't realize the lever harp would have a problem playing the A# and B natural in quick succession. The rich chords available on the piano, were not readily accessible  on the lever harp, and I had become attached to the  piano version. To play this on the harp, I had to make the lever change easier, and soften the lever change impact on the A#.

To simplify, I  pared the music down  to just the notes in the parent names.  Once I had the name notes in the 4 measures, I added to the harmony and the left hand, so I could make that difficult lever change happen.   I realized that if I added a  big, dramatic arpeggiated chord in the LH, moving up to a 3-note arpeggiated chord in the RH, the LH would have time to flip that lever. But that big long rolled chord was grand, which was good in some respects, as long as the preceding 3 measures justified that  grand flourish. Eventually I had 4 ideas, and I envisioned that these sections  might be used as transitional material between the variations on the baby's name.


4 measures merging the letters/notes of the parent's names; a lever issue and how it was resolved. 5 ways to play 4 measures.





Ten days later, I played through the four sections to decide what I wanted to use. I hit a C # by mistake instead of the last A#, and my ear was drawn to that sound. Taking the A# out, and instead  playing the C#, eliminated the problem. I still had to make the lever change, but had more time to flip the lever, and it was smoother, more comfortable, and easier on the ear.   The A# was not a  name-note,  and  could have been removed. But I hadn't considered this, as  the melody seemed to ask for the A#(Bb) and B natural to finish themusical line. I tripped over a simple  solution, that I never considered, because I thought I had to keep the B natural for the melody. I learned that I need to keep my mind open to all kinds of possibilities, and that there are solutions that are not immediately apparent.


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