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Quickly String the Harp

2011. Duration 8' approx.









Marimba (4.3 octave)

Harpsichord (or Piano)


I. My Soul Is Dark (Byron)

II. Echo's Song (Blake)

III. Midnight (Vaughan)



Programme Note

Quickly String The Harp sets three poems by different authors. Each movement sees the two instruments supporting the voice in different ways.


My Soul Is Dark frequently overlaps and amalgamates the sounds of the marimba and harpsichord. The focus in the movement is one instrument acting as the resonance of the other, or of one melodic phrase growing out of another. The music is atmospheric and organic, being based on modal harmonies. Echo’s Song is a faster scherzo and this time gives the marimba and harpsichord a more equal footing. Both play a single-line melody which creates the impression of water. In Midnight there is an allusion to recitative, the harpsichord occupying its familiar ‘baroque’ role interjecting with pungent harmonies derived from the vocal lines, the marimba meanwhile acting as a kind of secondary singer in conversation with the mezzo-soprano.


The expansive warm tone of the marimba coupled with the somewhat hard-edged – but by no means less expressive – sound of the harpsichord was an interesting combination to work with. The overall aural effect, especially in the first two movements, should be of a kind of ‘hybrid’ accompanying instrument which possesses the advantages of both.

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