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MIDDLE PERIOD WORKS

The three middle period works in the present edition exemplify the dramatic changes in Harrison’s style that took place during his East Coast and early Aptos years. The first, Praises for Michael the Archangel, dates from 1946–47, the year immediately before his breakdown. This solo organ work is a fine example of the dissonant contrapuntal language Harrison favored at the time, and shows as well his indebtedness to the language of Carl Ruggles. It would be difficult to imagine a more complete contrast to Praises than Vestiunt Silve, a cheerful song of the birds whose opening section Harrison composed in 1951, shortly before he left New York for Black Mountain College. The re-emergence of diatonicism is striking, as are the Medieval influences in the harmonies. Incidental Music for Corneille’s ‘Cinna’ (Suite for Tack Piano) dates from Harrison’s early years in Aptos. For this work, which he envisioned as the accompaniment to a puppet play, he devised a unique just intonation tuning that offered a wide choice of interval sizes. Harrison interwove these various intervals to create a stunning spectrum of harmonic color, ranging from consonances far more pure to dissonances far more grating than those possible in equal temperament.

Praises for Michael the Archangel

   The year in which Harrison worked on his organ piece, Praises for Michael the Archangel, was among his most troubled. The anxiety and distress that heralded his illness—apparent in the work’s stark dissonances and tortured melodies—were often in evidence, and friends would frequently find him quiet and withdrawn. Uncharacteristically, Harrison sought comfort in religion and was particularly drawn to the Episcopal Church of St. Mary the Virgin on West 46th Street (known familiarly as "Smokey Mary" because of the incense burned during services). A number of instrumental works inspired by religious themes date from this period. In addition to Praises, Harrison composed the Motet for the Day of Ascension and an Alleluia for small orchestra that was published in the New Music Quarterly in 1948. He now prefers that neither the Motet nor the Alleluia be performed.
   To comfort Harrison during this troubled period, Virgil Thomson assured him of "guardian angels" watching out for his well-being. Confused and on the verge of a crisis, Harrison even told friends about seeing a vision of an angel on a wall in his apartment.99 His veneration of the Archangel Michael in particular was a sign of his search for comfort and stability. As the ultimate judge, Michael symbolized for Harrison the political and humanitarian principles he had championed since his San Francisco years, and served, during this time, as a spiritual guide to deliver him from his inner terrors. Gustav Davidson, in his comprehensive Dictionary of Angels, notes that Christian tradition invokes Michael as "the benevolent angel of death, in the sense of deliverance and immortality, ... leading the souls of the faithful ‘into the eternal light.’ [He] leads the angels of light in battle against the legions of the angel of darkness. As the angel of the final reckoning and the weigher of souls ... he holds in his hand the scales of justice."100
   Praises for Michael the Archangel depicts the Archangel’s stern, uncompromising version of justice. To be performed "with majesty," the organ work unfolds in a series of bold, austere gestures tempered by lyric moments. In its harmonic and contrapuntal language, however, the composition is a tribute to Carl Ruggles. In the year he composed Praises, Harrison wrote:

[Ruggles’s counterpoint] is characterized by an absolute lack of negative spacing in the voices, which is to say that no voice is ever given over to repetitious arpeggiation or figuration of any kind at all. Each voice is a real melody, bound into a community of singing lines, living a life of its own with regard to phrasing and breathing, careful not to get ahead or behind in its rhythmic cooperation with the others, and sustaining a responsible independence in the whole polyphonic life.
   This sounds like a description of any good contrapuntal piece, and indeed it is, the kind of contrapuntal piece that hasn’t really been written by a first rate master since Purcell or Bach. And for this reason it is exciting and important.
101

Harrison was inspired by such contrapuntal integrity, as well as by Ruggles’s habit of infrequent pitch repetition: "A particular tone does not usually return until seven or eight have intervened," he wrote in his 1946 essay.102 The melodic lines in Praises rarely contain all twelve tones; and when, on occasion, the twelve pitches do appear in a row (e.g., mm. 64–67), Harrison does not treat them serially.
   In the brief section on counterpoint in his Music Primer (1966, published 1971), Harrison identifies four types—octaval, quintal, tertial, and secundal—based on the preponderance of specific intervals on strong beats. He further delimits these contrapuntal forms as diatonic or chromatic, imitative or non-imitative, and (in the parlance of Virgil Thomson) differentiated or non-differentiated.103 By his own definition, Harrison’s contrapuntal language in Praises is secundal, chromatic, imitative, and non-differentiated. As example 3 shows, the most prominent interval in the piece both harmonically and melodically is the minor second (hence "chromatic," "secundal" counterpoint). Imitative writing predominates and the voices are similar in speed and character (that is, "non-differentiated"). The prominence of the minor second as the work’s foundational interval was further enhanced years later, when Harrison orchestrated Praises as the fourth movement of his Elegiac Symphony. At the end of this movement, he added a unison fortissimo coda: seventeen measures built primarily out of melodic half steps (example 4).104
   Though not serial, Praises for Michael the Archangel nevertheless reveals the influence of Schoenberg. The most important lesson Harrison took from his year of study with the Viennese modernist was to simplify—to "use only the salient."105 During the period in which he was enrolled in Schoenberg’s seminar at UCLA, Harrison composed a twelve-tone Suite for Piano (1943) for Frances Mullen, who with her husband Peter Yates had founded the Evenings on the Roof concert series.106 In the middle of the third movement he reached an impasse, and, despite warnings that Schoenberg preferred not to critique serial compositions, took the piece to him.
I was in trouble and he knew it. I played him the first two movements and what I could of the third. He said, "Is this a twelve-tone piece?" "Yes," I said, waiting for the ax to fall. "It is good," he said, and plunged right in. His advice I’ve never forgotten: Write only what you need to write—no complications. Simplicity is what he recommended.107

   Schoenberg’s counsel helped Harrison find his way through the composing block, and the Suite for Piano stands out in his oeuvre as one of his most compelling and tightly constructed compositions. Praises, written only three years later, shows a similar concern with concision. Its language is terse and intense, its phrases clearly marked and set off by caesurae.
   Schoenberg’s influence in Praises for Michael the Archangel is apparent not only in Harrison’s occasional use of techniques common to the twelve-tone school (e.g., the inversion of the opening melodic line in mm. 100ff.) but also in the work’s clearly articulated phrase structure (a trait Harrison admired in Schoenberg’s music). In 1944, Harrison wrote in Modern Music:
One of the major joys in [Schoenberg’s Piano Concerto] is in the structure of the phrases. You know when you are hearing a theme, a building or answering phrase, a development or a coda. There is no swerving from the form-building nature of these classical phrases. The pleasure to be had from listening to them is the same that one has from hearing the large forms of Mozart.108

   Praises for Michael the Archangel was not performed until 1966, when organist Fred Tulan (whom Harrison met through Virgil Thomson) premiered it at a concert in Honolulu. Harrison was reminded of the work again nine years later when the Koussevitzky Foundation commissioned him to write a symphony, which he titled Elegiac. This composition capped another troubled year for Harrison, one marked by the death of both his mother (March 21, 1974) and his (by then) close friend Harry Partch (September 3, 1974).
   Harrison used the commission to create a work not only honoring Natalie and Serge Koussevitzky, but also expressing the intensity of his personal losses. Under the circumstances, it is hardly surprising that Michael the Archangel again appeared as comforter, though by 1975 Harrison invoked the angel in spite of, rather than because of his Christian associations. As early as 1960 Harrison had publicly disavowed affiliation with any organized religion, declaring in a radio talk that "I regard religion as insanity just as I regard warring as brutality." (Although he acknowledged that given the choice, "the wise man will choose the charms of insanity," he also asserted that "the intelligent man will reject both insanity and brutality.")109 Harrison nevertheless orchestrated his 1946 organ work for use as the symphony’s fourth movement, adding a few concluding measures and making minor revisions throughout. In the context of the symphony, Michael appears as but one among several sources of comfort. In this thirty-three-minute work, Harrison intermingled pagan, Christian, and Islamic symbols in a musical commentary on the universality of human pain in the face of death. He tempered Michael’s austerity with the tears of Israfel (Movements 1 and 3), the "angel of resurrection and song" who six times a day looks down into Hell with such grief "that his tears would inundate the earth if Allah did not stop their flow,"110 and concluded with a message of hope from Epicurus, who summarized, rather more elegantly, the opinion of Harrison’s father that "when you’re dead, you’re dead." Through the study of Lucretius and Epicurus, Harrison found consolation in the concept of a complete separation between life and death. "Religions," he says, "are the expression of the fear of death. But Epicurus taught that where we are, death isn’t, and where death is, we are not."111

Vestiunt Silve

Harrison recalls that his first task toward regaining mental health after his 1947 breakdown was "to write out my history."112 Characteristically, this project of "burrowing down" into himself soon expanded far beyond what either he or his doctors envisioned. It became a multi-year burrowing into the history of Western culture in general: "I went down through history—where did this happen, why did this happen?—trying to find things to hang onto as I descended into the pit."113
   When he reached the Middle Ages, Harrison stopped for an extended visit. The troubadours, minnesingers, and goliards particularly caught his imagination: "I was fascinated by the concept of secular wandering scholars," he says.114 He bought books of their poetry and volumes of their music, and he even purchased a small collection of reproductions of minnesinger portraits from the Weingartner manuscript.115 On a blank page facing Kaiser Haenrich (1165–97), Harrison’s friend Remy Charlip added a portrait of "Lou S. Harrison." Charlip’s imitation of the frame, lettering, background, and pose is a remarkable likeness of the fourteenth-century illuminations, but the costume is 1949 traditional: checkered shirt, slacks, and sneakers.116
   Steeped in Medieval lore, Harrison’s vibrant imagination turned toward legend and mythology, a study further stimulated by his close association with a group of ardent New York artists including Julian Beck and Judith Malina, founders of the Living Theater. Harrison, Malina, and their circle fervently engaged in the latest literary debates: over Robert Graves’s newest and most controversial work The White Goddess (1948), for example, or Jean Cocteau’s film Orphée (1950). Harrison planned an opera on Cupid and Psyche (never completed), wrote music to accompany William Butler Yeats’s dance-play The Only Jealousy of Emer, and was engrossed in reading Helen Waddell’s Wandering Scholars (1927; revised and enlarged, 1932ff.) and Abelard (1933). In this fanciful climate Harrison began a musical setting of Vestiunt Silve, an eleventh-century hymn to the birds that describes turtle-doves complaining, eagles soaring to the stars, and sparrows chattering beneath the elms.
   The prospect of a summer at Black Mountain College was already before him.117 Few places could have offered a greater physical contrast to New York than this tiny school nestled in a gentle valley overlooking a shimmering lake (although the intellectual environment, as he soon learned, bore distinct similarities to that of the Malina/Beck circle in New York). Harrison would later write ecstatically to Vladimir Ussachevsky about the frogs in Lake Eden, the "flower-scented" air, the shimmering dogwood, and a whippoorwill’s "repetitive serenade."118
   On April 4, 1951, Harrison completed a three-voiced setting of the first stanza of Vestiunt Silve and appended suggestions for instrumentation (flute, viola or clarinet, and trumpet or clarinet; see plate 3). He got no further, however, until 1994, when he revisited his old sketch for an August 18 performance at the Dartington International Summer Festival in Totnes, England. By extending his opening phrase and adding an instrumental introduction, two interludes, a contrasting central section, and slight variations for the second and fifth verses, Harrison expanded his 1951 fragment into a four-minute composition in quintal harmony, and offered the completed work to composer and musicologist Wilfrid Mellers as an eightieth birthday present. Typically (for Harrison loves to tinker with his works), he revised the ending after the premiere; the new version appears in this edition for the first time.
   Vestiunt Silve’s text comes from the Cambridge Songs, a collection of lyric poems within a larger manuscript now housed in Cambridge, England, but actually assembled in Canterbury in the eleventh century. Though the manuscript is English, the poetry probably originated in various regions of continental Europe.119 There is little doubt that many, if not all of the poems in the collection were intended to be sung: the manuscript contains a small amount of musical notation (in indecipherable neumes in campo aperto), many of the texts are sequences (a musical addition to the Catholic liturgy that immediately follows the Alleluia), and several of the poems discuss musical instruments, theory, or performance. Jan Ziolkowski goes as far as to state that "their raison d’être was song"120 and that the collector of the Cambridge Songs anthology acted "as the medieval equivalent of a disk jockey. ... He selected songs that he liked, ones that he had heard in courts, monasteries, and perhaps even taverns, and he set down the words, sometimes including only enough text to jog the memory of his readers into recalling the tune ... but often insisting upon having a text or transcript of the whole text as he understood it."121
   Vestiunt Silve, as found in this source, contains six 4-line stanzas (for text and translation see performance notes section of score, p. 36).122 The first five depict the tuneful counterpoint of nature’s songsters, while the sixth abruptly turns religious. Harrison set only stanzas 1–5. "In the sixth," he says, "some monk got hold of the text and burdened it with dogma."123 Harrison simply dispensed with the dogma. His instincts about the text were in fact well-founded; the last verse has been a subject of scholarly debate for years.124
   The final version of Vestiunt Silve, transposed up a fourth from the 1951 sketch, is scored for soprano with flute/piccolo, two violas and harp. Harrison used these instrumental timbres to paint the bucolic scene. The flute/piccolo part, though mostly doubling the violas or the voice, lends sparkle to the texture, and evokes as well the instrument’s traditional association with birds. The interweaving viola lines suggest the branches of trees, and the harp adds a delicate punctuation to underscore the song’s metric fluidity.
   The work’s Medieval origins are also recalled by the instrumentation. In addition to the harp, an instrument prominent in the music of the Middle Ages and earlier, Harrison chose the flute and piccolo as modern counterparts of a pair of recorders, which traditionally represented pastoral scenes (and, incidentally, were instruments on which Harrison himself had acquired considerable proficiency during his San Francisco years). Violas, rather than violins, were selected to suggest the warm timbre of early bowed strings, a sound Harrison praised in several reviews he wrote for the New York Herald Tribune. On April 4, 1945, for instance, he reviewed a performance of Bach’s Passion According to St. John by Arthur Mendel’s Cantata Singers:
   Such a performance of this intimate and intense work ... arouses, beyond the beauty of the musical and religious expression, several reflections that the modern person unused to hearing ... old music done correctly can hardly escape. The harpsichord and viola da gamba, which were heard more than any other instruments last night, as well as the viol d’amore and the lute, are instruments whose strings are all stretched rather mildly. This makes for a sweetness of sound and hovering warmth that are unknown to modern instruments....
   These gentle, free-floating sounds are amplified and enriched by the chamber in which they are sounded, and the effect is in every way beautiful. Indeed we are indebted for the hearing of new sounds as much to that small group of intelligent musicologists who have brought the baroque revival to pass as to the composers of modern music or their performing societies.125

   Harmonically, Vestiunt Silve contains an abundance of fifths and fourths—indeed the two intervals are often sounded simultaneously in the harp, creating a distinctively contemporary reference to the work’s Medieval source. Rhythmically, Harrison also calls to mind the Middle Ages by notating flexibility through constantly changing meter, thus providing a fanciful reconstruction of the declamatory style of a wandering minstrel. The accent pattern is dictated by the prosody and, though the work is strictly notated, the effect is one of free improvisation.

Incidental Music for Corneille’s ‘Cinna’ (Suite for Tack Piano)

In 1949, when Virgil Thomson handed Harrison a copy of Partch’s Genesis of a Music with the offhand comment, "Here, see what you can make of this,"126 he could not have anticipated that it would forever change Harrison’s compositional life. Disillusioned with twelve-tone serialism and the style of his pre-breakdown years, Harrison was searching for a new language. Partch’s ideas intersected with the historical tuning theories Harrison was encountering in his journey through European cultural history: suddenly he saw a way in which ancient Greek theory could be realized in modern practice.
   Harrison considered Partch’s work with just intonation the logical extension of Schoenberg’s twelve-tone method. In the late 1960s, he wrote:
Mr. Schoenberg’s excellent ear early informed him that there is no tonality in equal temperament (only the octave is a good interval). Being a European, and sharing in Europe’s heavy investment in equal temperament, it did not seriously occur to him simply to retune. He invented instead a way of putting some order into an essentially chaotic affair by arranging an order of succession through the unrelated pitches (while systematically avoiding the only related ones—the octaves). Thus, he substituted an order of succession for a hierarchy of relationships.127

Partch’s book offered an alternative: substituting "real [that is, pure] intervals" for "hallucinatory [tempered] ones,"128 thus offering coloristic possibilities that seemed limitless.
   Harrison’s excitement over his studies of intonation surpassed that of any of his previous explorations, and pure tuning systems became, for years afterward, the subject of his most impassioned lectures. In the 1950s, he could hardly contain his enthusiasm. Colleagues at Black Mountain College remember his animated lectures on the subject, held after dinner in what they termed the "roundhouse" (the music room); and in later years Frank Wigglesworth would laughingly retell the story of a 1954 trip to Venice where Harrison, in severe pain from a broken foot, lay in a hotel room trying to distract himself by mapping the partials of the bells of St. Mark’s basilica.129
   The first work in which Harrison experimented with these new ideas was Seven Pastorales, which he began in New York in 1949 after retuning his piano in Pythagorean intonation.130 Harrison completed the Pastorales at Black Mountain in October 1951. After his return to California in 1953 he not only composed a number of works calling for specialized tunings (Strict Songs, 1955; Cinna, 1955–57; and the Concerto in Slendro, 1961), but also developed his own extension of just intonation, which he calls "Free Style." Free Style tuning dispenses entirely with the concept of a fixed tonal center. Instead, each pitch is related only to the surrounding notes either melodically or harmonically, mostly in strict superparticular ratios131 derived from the overtone series (e.g., 3:2, 4:3, 5:4, etc.). Since an interval is defined not according to any fixed frequency but rather by its ratio to the previous note, a particular pitch in one portion of the work may differ quite substantially from what appears to be the same pitch elsewhere. (That is, one "C" may be quite different from another.) The use of standard notation thus becomes a convenience for the performer rather than an indication of an absolute pitch. Despite the difficulties inherent in such a system, Harrison used Free Style in several works, including a short Simfony (1955), which calls for specially constructed flutes, and viols with moveable frets. The work has been realized digitally and recorded by David Doty.132
   Cinna, dedicated to the Guggenheim Foundation,133 was a product of Harrison’s early years in Aptos, when he worked as a forest fire fighter and veterinary assistant ("clipping poodles," he quips). After a full day’s work with the dogs, he would spend most of the night composing in a small studio behind his Aptos cabin. The building offered an ideal environment: built to raise chinchillas, it featured heavily insulated walls several inches thick, designed for temperature control but coincidentally functioning as a sound barrier, allowing him to compose at the piano throughout the night.
   Harrison envisioned Cinna as an accompaniment to the play of the same name by Pierre Corneille (1606–1684). The drama focuses on the Roman Emperor Augustus’s clemency toward the general Cinna, who had plotted his execution. Harrison was attracted to the play not only because of its pacifist theme (rather than exacting revenge, Augustus disarmed his enemies with mercy), but also because of his interest in the theater in general and the French Baroque in particular.134 He was drawn to the classical movement of seventeenth-century France and the then-current dramatic theory of the "three unities": action set in a single day, in a single locale, and revolving about a unified plot—"truly a musical problem," he says.135
   Harrison hoped to stage a performance of Corneille’s play in the studio behind his house, using puppets in classical dress, and with musical numbers as intermezzi between the acts. Such a production, however, never materialized. Since a puppet play called for modest musical forces, Harrison decided on an instrumentation of solo piano, but rather than using a standard instrument, he called for one with thumbtacks inserted in the felt of each hammer. The composer Esther Williamson Ballou had first shown Harrison a tack piano after a New York concert in which the instrument had been used to simulate a harpsichord. In a 1945 Herald Tribune review, Harrison complimented the Oratorio Society of New York on using the instrument in Bach’s B Minor Mass, noting that it constituted "a happy substitute for [the harpsichord] when volume is required"—though he would have much preferred a harpsichord, a smaller orchestra, and fewer singers.136 The following year, he reviewed the same group performing the same work with less sympathy for this non-historic performance practice: "As a concession to modern scholarship, the sound of the harpsichord was offered in its shadow version supplied by a piano with tacks in the hammers."137
   Though the tack piano’s use as a harpsichord-substitute was short-lived, Harrison found another application for the instrument in fifteen works composed between 1949 and 1990. Combined with the celesta and sometimes the harp as well, it created "the gamelan section" of his orchestra. Harrison first experimented with this sonority in two chamber works from 1949: The Only Jealousy of Emer (flute, cello, contrabass, tack-piano, celesta) and Solstice (flute, oboe, trumpet, 2 cellos, contrabass, tack-piano, celesta). He was so delighted with the gamelan sound of the tack piano/celesta combination that he used it again in his 1951 Suite for Violin, Piano, and Small Orchestra, which contains movements titled "First Gamelan" and "Second Gamelan." Two other compositions from the same year call for the instrument,138 as do Rapunzel (1952) and all four of Harrison’s symphonies (1964–1990). Cinna, however, is Harrison’s only work for tack piano alone. In the introductory comments to his own recording of the piece (ca. 1957),139 he mentions the possibility of substituting harpsichord (an interesting turning of the tables) but does not list that option on the score, most likely because the notated dynamic contrasts would be lost.
   On the title page, as restated in the present edition, Harrison gives instructions for retuning the piano, primarily by locating pure (non-beating) fifths or major thirds above or below specified pitches. He then presents the resulting chromatic scale featuring five sizes of semitone, ranging from an exceptionally small 71 cents (G#–A, C–Db, D#–E) to a very wide 133 (C#–D), none of which corresponds to the equal tempered semitone (100 cents).
   In example 5, I have calculated the sizes of all intervals in Cinna from the minor second through the fourth and arranged them from narrowest to widest in each interval category. In contrast to the wide variety of semitone sizes, the majority of the fourths and major thirds are pure, though at the expense of others, which can be quite dissonant. The range of whole steps is similar to that of the semitones. The two sizes commonly discussed in Medieval and Renaissance tracts (the "greater tone," 9:8, and the "lesser tone," 10:9) are present, as is the 8:7 "supermajor second," an interval resulting from the "flat" seventh partial of the overtone series (example 6). In the second movement of Cinna, Harrison dwells for some time on this wide second (F–G)—possibly to enhance the pathos of the melodic line.
   Between the 9:8 "greater tone" and the 6:5 pure minor third are seven intervals of gradually increasing size (see example 5). Among these, the 7:6 "subminor third," an interval not used in Western harmonic practice, is particularly startling to ears attuned to equal temperament. Near the end of Cinna’s slow second movement (the same one in which he explored the supermajor second), Harrison wrote a passage in parallel thirds that capitalizes on the shades of coloration available in this tuning (example 7a). The passage opens with the 6:5 pure minor third (316 cents) and concludes with a 5:4 pure major third (386 cents), thus creating a sense of stability at the beginning and end. Between these poles Harrison inserted four minor thirds of different sizes, ranging from the 7:6 subminor third (267 cents) to the very wide 128:105 (343 cents).
   The most radical juxtapositions of interval sizes, however, occur in the finale, where Harrison makes extensive use of the tuning’s widest half step (C#–D, 27:25) as well as the two intervals built around the seventh partial (8:7 and 7:6). Particularly striking is a passage of unadorned quarter notes in which two fourths are interwoven with three gradually expanding intervals: the 8:7 supermajor second, the 7:6 subminor third, and the 6:5 pure minor third. In the passage’s continuation, these three intervals are juxtaposed with the 9:7 major third, a quarter-tone wider than pure (example 7b).
   Contrary to his normal practice, Harrison did not date the manuscript of Cinna when he finished the composition; nor are there dates on any of the more than forty pages of sketch material. Although the fair copy, which he prepared in 1968 for the premiere by Donald Pippin,140 bears the date 1955–56, Cinna was probably not completed until 1957, as suggested by two contemporaneous documents: a report by Peter Yates on hearing the piece’s first informal, private performance, and a letter from Harrison to the Esperanto Society.141
   Yates’s report describes a "trip up the coast" beginning "the third week of May" 1957, during which he revived a friendship with Harrison that had begun during the composer’s year in Los Angeles (1942–43). Yates notes that after dinner, "we went back into Lou’s studio ... the single room cut in half by a large screen for shadow puppets, and heard—the first time he has played them for anyone—his five piano interludes, intended to be played between the five acts of ... Cinna."142
   Scrawled at the beginning of Harrison’s working score from the 1950s is a reminder to himself to "Contact [the] Esperanto Society." He did so on June 6, 1957, describing his "just completed" piece for tack-piano and seeking help translating his performance notes into Esperanto for the title page of a "small private edition." In this letter, Harrison suggests that the tack piano was merely an imitation of his vision of the ideal instrument: a single-strung piano143 "struck by light hammers of aluminum" to produce "an harmonious twanging of strings."
   Although the surviving sketches for Cinna are not dated, they do reveal the evolution of both the composition and the tuning system.144 They also provide hints about Harrison’s state of mind at the time, for intermingled among them are random musings on a variety of subjects (see plate 4):
On just intonation:
Dean Luther Marchant (of the Mills College Music Dept.) once asked of me: was I not a radical, an iconoclast? Actually, of course, I’ve always been a conformist, and an intense one; for I think that all our arts and activities had ought to have to do with "the-way-things-are-ness...." For example, I find that we are all (so made, so constituted, so living) that "just-intonation" is best and simplest for us and I so proceed: still, such is "thought" now, by most in the WESTERN world to be dreams! (of attainment), insofar as music itself is regarded at all as a worthy pursuit. Artists are justly paid less[;] we enjoy life the most. Those of you who have not our fortune should be paid exorbitantly for anything you do. You deserve some compensation for your pitiable state....

On relatedness:
Time and math and intervals and rhythm and balance and life and death.

On classicism and death:
Among Europeans only the Span[ish] have regarded death in a classic manner. Is it the Moorish (occupation) which caused this?

On dogs:
I can’t imagine anyone liking Basenjis.
One loves them.
They are works of the very highest artistry.
To discover the Basenji is like finding a unicorn at one’s door—
The fabulous arrives.

"Adventure in a liquor store":
What I’d like to have said: "Madame: ‘merriment’ is an old English word; I believe that the nearest American equivalent is ‘making whoopee.’"


EXAMPLE 3. Praises for Michael the Archangel, mm. 1–6, connections show the prominence of the minor second
[Example Image]
EXAMPLE 4. Elegiac Symphony, Movement 4 (coda), mm. 157–75: orchestra in unison except for mm.157–58 (part shown is violin 1)
[Example Image]
EXAMPLE 5. Cinna, interval sizes
a. Ratios and notation for intervals in Cinna
[Example Image]
b. Interval sizes in cents
[Example Image]

EXAMPLE 6. The overtone series and the sizes of the resulting intervals
a. Overtone series (blackened notes differ significantly from the corresponding equal-tempered pitch)
[Example Image]
b. Vibration ratios, corresponding interval sizes, and comparison (in cents) between the pure interval and the corresponding equal tempered interval (rounded to the nearest cent)
[Example Image]

EXAMPLE 7. Cinna, compositional use of varying interval sizes
a. Movement 2: passage with parallel, unequal minor thirds, system 7.24ff., PI
[Example Image]
b. Movement 5: fourths interwoven with the supermajor second, subminor third, and pure minor third, system 4, 18ff., PI
[Example Image]

   99 The story, which Harrison has told repeatedly, is recounted by Anthony Tommasini in Virgil Thomson, 369. (I have found no support for Tommasini’s comment that Harrison went back to work at the Tribune after his hospitalization.)
   100 Gustav Davidson, A Dictionary of Angels, Including the Fallen Angels (New York: The Free Press, 1967), 194.
   101 Harrison, About Carl Ruggles, 7–8.
   102 Ibid., 10.
   103 Harrison, Music Primer, 96–97.
   104 Recorded by the American Composers Orchestra, Dennis Russell Davies, conductor (MusicMasters 60204K).
   105 Harrison, interview, May 20, 1995.
   106 For a detailed account of the series, see Dorothy Crawford, Evenings On and Off the Roof (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1995).
   107 Harrison, interview, May 20, 1995.
   108 Modern Music 21 :3 (March–April 1944): 136.
   109 Harrison, "Crackpot lecture."
   110 Davidson, A Dictionary of Angels.
   111 Harrison, personal communication, Sept. 8, 1997.
   112 Harrison, interview, Oct. 21, 1994.
   113 Ibid.
   114 Harrison, personal communication, July 27, 1997.
   115 This fourteenth-century manuscript contains minnesang texts. See the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, s.v. "Sources, MS., III, 5."
   116 Both the Charlip portrait and the facing page are reproduced in Miller and Lieberman, Lou Harrison, fig.11.
   117 Malina, in her diary, notes on March 25 that Harrison was anticipating a retreat to North Carolina: The Diaries of Judith Malina (New York: Grove Press, 1984), 152.
   118 Undated letter, Harrison to Ussachevsky (New York Public Library, New Music Edition documents, folder 97).
   119 For a description of the manuscript and a history of scholarly speculations about its dating and provenance, see Jan. M. Ziolkowski, ed. and trans., The Cambridge Songs (New York and London: Garland, 1994), introduction.
   120 Ibid., xl.
   121 Ibid., xiv.
   122 A facsimile of the manuscript and transliteration is found in Karl Breul, ed., The Cambridge Songs: A Goliard’s Song Book of the XIth Century (Cambridge: University Press, 1915; reprint New York: AMS Press, 1973).
   123 Harrison, personal communication, 1997.
   124 Ziolkowski, Cambridge Songs, 241.
   125 "Cantata Singers Present Bach’s St. John Passion: Arthur Mendel Conducts at All Souls Church," New York Herald Tribune, April 19 and 20, 1945.
   126 Harrison, interview, Feb. 10, 1994.
   127 Lou Harrison, Music Primer, 99.
   128 Harrison, interview, Sept. 30, 1994.
   129 Interviews with Joseph and Mary Fiore, June 19, 1995 and Frank Wigglesworth, June 21, 1995.
   130 In Pythagorean intonation all fifths are pure except one, which is so small that it is extremely dissonant. The thirds, as a result, are extremely wide.
   131 Superparticular ratios are those in which the numerator exceeds the denominator by 1, for example, 4/3 or 101/100.
   132 Recording on the compact disc included in Miller and Lieberman, Lou Harrison.
   133 In addition to his 1952 Guggenheim fellowship, Harrison received another one in 1954.
   134 Harrison’s interest in and fluency with early music becomes evident in the notation of Cinna. Here he uses alto and tenor clefs in addition to treble and bass, thus avoiding excessive use of ledger lines as in eighteenth-century works. This edition uses only treble and bass clefs.
   135 Harrison, personal communication, Aug. 6, 1997.
   136 "Oratorio Society Gives B Minor Mass of Bach," New York Herald Tribune, Mar. 28, 1945, 20.
   137 "Bach B-Minor Mass: Oratorio Society Gives its 20th Rendition of the Work," New York Herald Tribune, March 27, 1946, 19.
   138 Nocturne and Alma Redemptoris Mater.
   139 The recording and Harrison’s comments (including his demonstration of the work’s tuning system) can be heard on the compact disc accompanying Miller and Lieberman, Lou Harrison.
   140 The premiere took place at the Old Spaghetti Factory in San Francisco on August 4, 1968.
   141 Letter to the Esperanto Society from the composer’s archive (thanks to Charles Hanson for bringing this document to my attention). Peter Yates, "A Trip up the Coast," Arts and Architecture 74:12 (Dec. 1957), 4, 6–7, 10, 33–34. Yates erroneously identifies the author as Racine.
   142 Yates, "A Trip Up the Coast," 33.
   143 That is, with one string per note instead of the normal two or three.
   144 All manuscript materials relating to Cinna are at Special Collections, University of California, Santa Cruz.

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