In this solo piece for harp I chose an unusual style for harp: rock + experimental rhythm and atonality. When you work with harp you need to remember that harp has only 7 notes in an octave and it can be flat, normal or sharp. Sometimes I have many pedal changes in one measure, but I try to make them easier to play by putting changes of the same pedal close.
In this track I use muting a lot, because the style requires it. Especially muting in low register is difficult.
Track starts with minimalism: ostinato in bass using 3 notes in Em. Then a more rhythmically and harmonically varied part is introduced in right hand: F#m with chromatic. Here I use consonant and dissonant (2nds, 4ths, 7ths) intervals.
Starting with measure 113 bass ostinato gradually rises two octaves up.
You will find both live and virtual recordings here.
For virtual recording I used a Spitfire Skaila Kanga Harp library. It seems to be one of the best harp libraries today with 3 mics and very spatial sound compared with the other libraries. For some tracks it can be unwanted, but for solo harp it seems very appropriate.
I randomized midi imported from Sibelius into Reaper: 17% velocity in fast repeating notes. 10% position for all notes + manual corrections where this randomization spoiled rhythm (about 5 places).
No equalization used. Limiting.
You can also see my video of Moscow metro with virtual recording above.
Thanks a lot to Nina Kupriyanova for recording this piece! Nina won multiple international contests in France, Austria, Wales and Russia.
I think, most important is that Nina made a lot of corrections in my score to make it more playable and readable for a harpist. Actually, the piece is difficult for performance because of the following qualities, which we optimized during corrections:
1. No time to rest.
2. Very independent rhythms in left and right hands.
3. There are some places with lots of pedal changes.
4. More than one simultaneous note per hand maked playing difficult.
5. A lot of bass muting.
6. Rock rhythm is not what harpists are used to.
We recorded piece is a noisy music college in Moscow. Thanks to close microphone position we got not so much noise in the recording. I used AKG C214 large diaphragm condenser microphone with Zoom H5 portable studio. You can see in the backstage video below, that microphone was positioned to the right in front of the harp. Microphone was aimed at short strings and performer's hands. No effects, reverb, compression or limiting was used (because I had to much noise).
Audio and video were recorded separately and later were synced in Adobe Premiere. Two cameras were used as you can see in backstage video below:
- Canon 650d with EF-S 18-55 f/3.5-5.6 IS (1920x1080 25fps)
- Samsung S6 phone (1920x1080 60fps) - later was converted to 25fps by deleting excessive frames
You can also see a slow motion video below, created by speeding down 60fps footage to 25fps.