The Salutation composed by Alistair MacDonald for Harp & Tape

The Salutation
for clarsach and electroacoustic sounds Alistair MacDonald (2002)

Download includes pdf of score plus the audio file (101.80MB) for performing.

Programme note:
In The Salutation my aim was to find a new voice for the clarsach exploring its sound, its music and its history.
There is a slow air which uses the instrument in a recognisable, characteristic way, but it also builds upon ornamentation
characteristic of traditional Scottish clarsach music and the distinctive playing style of Catriona McKay for whom the piece
was written.

The live instrument is immersed in a pre-recorded electroacoustic part which began with recordings of the voice of Margaret
Hughes of Anstruther, who I recorded in the Spring of 2000. Margaret describes how she worked as ‘a fisher quine’ gutting
herring in the late 1930s in the Shetland islands. I loved the music of her speech, and wanted to find links between her story
telling, and the musical voice of the clarsach. Her voice is set within a soundscape of transformed clarsach, along with other
sounds creating a backdrop for the narrative: the ticking of a grandfather clock, the harbour in Anstruther and the sea.

The Salutation was commissioned by Catriona McKay who premiered it at the Edinburgh International Harp Festival in 2002.

Performance notes:

Synchronisation between clarsach and pre-recorded part is approximate as marked. In the opening and closing sec/ons the speaking voice is the cue for the clarsach so should not be anticipated. Those chords marked ‘G’ should be played as short, idiosyncratic ornamental gestures ad lib. In the first sec/on these should stand out above the other, more reflective clarsach material; in the final sec/on the roles are reversed and the gestures should be more reflective than the material which surrounds them.

From bar 40 the fast repeated material should be played as 2 or 3 note clusters ad lib with the notated pitch at the top.

The clarsach should be gently amplified even in small venues. The amplification should match the instrument to the timbre of the clarsach in the electroacoustic part. No reverberation should be necessary. Level changes during performance should be minimal. It is acceptable to emphasise overall dynamic shaping and perspective (presence/distance), bearing in mind the balance between the live and electroacoustic parts.

Alistair MacDonald is a composer, performer and sound artist.  His work is often collaborative, working with artists, dancers, musicians in diverse media using interactive digital technology. Recent projects include: a solo CD of compositions for empreintes DIGITALes and two CDs of improvised music for Leo Records; Strange Rainbow, a live electroacoustic improvising duo with Scottish harp player Catriona McKay; two works for Belgian dance company Reckless Sleepers; The Last Post with trumpet player Tom Poulson and director Susan Worsfold, and works for glass percussion, electronics and live flame-working with glass artist Carrie Fertig.