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Music of the United States of America

[Recent Researches in American Music]

Lou Harrison
Selected Keyboard and Chamber Music, 1937-1994
Edited by Leta E. Miller
MU8 / A31 ISBN 0-89579-414-4 (1998) lv+162 pp. $99.00
  ISBN 978-0-89579-414-7
MU8P1 Vestiunt Silve: Parts (fl./picc.; va. 1, va.2; harp)   $4.00
MU8P2 Varied Trio: Parts (vn.; perc.)   $6.00
MU8P3 Grand Duo: Parts (vn.)   $9.00

This collection presents seven works by Lou Harrison for keyboard solo or chamber ensemble spanning more than 50 years. The prefatory essay explores, through the lens of these works, the sources of Harrison's syncretic style: percussion, East Asian music, gamelan, medieval music, the French baroque, melody, tuning systems, instrument building, and politics. Interwoven biographical material is based on the author's research for her recent study of Harrison's life and works, and draws on archival materials and also nearly 75 interviews with Harrison and colleagues who have worked with him during the past half century. The edition was prepared with the full cooperation and assistance of the composer.

Music Sample

France 1917-Spain 1937 for two percussionists and string quartet; Tributes to Charon for percussion trio; Praises for Michael the Archangel for organ solo; Vestiunt Silve for soprano, flute/piccolo, two violas, and harp; Incidental Music for Corneille's "Cinna" (Suite for Tack Piano) for upright piano with tacks inserted into felts; Varied Trio for violin, piano, and percussion; and Grand Duo for violin and piano 
Note: Tuning Instructions for Cinna
Harrison's tuning instructions and interval ratios for Cinna are reproduced in this edition on p. 48 precisely as found in his manuscript, but these instructions contain a small error. The final note of the process should be F-sharp rather than A, a note that should be tuned as a pure major third above D (5:4). Contrary to Harrison's ratios, F-A is not a pure M3 in this tuning.

Harrison's ratios were used to calculate the intervals in Examples 5 and 7 on pp. xlii and xliv of the edition. Therefore, these corrections to the edition should be added:

  • Example 5a: B-D is pure (6:5); F-A is 80:63, wider than 63:50, but narrower than 32:25.
  • Example 5b: The major third column should include the ratio 80:63, equivalent to 413.6 cents.
  • Example 7a: B-D is 316 cents (not 294).
A *.pdf file showing the corrected examples and charts can be found here.