There Aint No Harps In Hell Baby


Marshall McGuireHarp
Samples ofAC/DC's Highway to Hell
George F. Handel's Hallelujah Chorus
and fragments of
Led Zeplin (heaven) and Jerry Lee Lewis (hell)
+ Raging guitar, bass 'n' drums.

Primarily because of the association of angels with their instrument, harpists are under the illusion that they will go to heaven. This piece demonstrates that this is not true. As much as the music is beautiful and heavenly (tempo = 99.9 bpm), the player, nevertheless, cannot help but get 'down and dirty', thus - via a tour of purgatory (tempo =83.25 bpm) - ending up in hell (tempo =66.6 bpm), which is where all harpists really belong!

The piece plays with the idea of heaven and hell in a quirky way, simply juxtaposing them as opposites. The association of angels with the instrument is seriously questioned as the harpist plays bluesy riffs and at one point employs a guitar slide. We begin at heaven and before too long begin our descent -'goin' down' - via purgatory, where things get a bit dirty - 'great balls of fire'. But we manage to find heaven again, with the assistance of Handel's Hallelujah Chorus, and, after some treatment, we truly descend to the satanic voices of a new chorus - 'There Ain't No Harps In Hell, Angel!'. Finally, the harp is crackling - afire!

This piece is dedicated to Marshall McGuire in gratitude for his tireless support and promotion of Australia's composers and their music.

Urban Psychoscapes

One of a set of pieces which integrate the spoken word, acoustic electronic instruments. These are pieces which pull no punches. What each piece has to say is done in a direct and sometimes confronting way. They invoke the voice of the repressed, the underdog, the dispossessed.

These electro-acoustic pieces, or studio pieces, as I think of them, are related musically through the integration of my own stylistic techniques with some aspects of more popular musics, (e.g. rock/techno instrumentation), and, thematically through the socio-polital material (voice/language), giving the music its emotional thrust.

The Harp is close miked, and played to a CD of electronically produced sounds and samples - including a ¼ tone harp. The harp is essentially a diatonic instrument. That is, it is like the white notes on a piano, which can become 'black' but must be basically one or the other. So, part of the musical idea is for the normal harp and the ¼ tone harp to become integrated with one another, thus producing a new mega-harp. Rhythmically, the player must be quite accurate, as the ¼ tone harp often plays the notes in between the harpist's notes. This produces big, rich, fluid-like arpeggios, some edgy harmonies, and microtonal 'echoes' of the harpist's chords.