Christopher Best

composer ~ educator ~ performer ~ writer


Still Beating (2007)


LISTEN: Complete (samples made from Ruth Wall's harp)

A typical Scottish
lever harp

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Still Beating is an intimate piece which draws warmth and subtlety from the pulsations, or 'beats', caused by the slight de-tuning of selected harp strings (an effect inspired by Indonesian gamelan instruments). It was composed in response to a call for works from the SPNM, as part of their ‘Solo Spotlight’ concert series and was premiered by Ruth Wall on 6th March 2007 at Wapping Power Station in London.

Though I was a newcomer to this instrument, I had had an idea for some time to write a piece for the larger orchestral harp, involving the microtonal de-tuning of adjacent strings. The opportunity to try out this idea on a lever harp was too good to miss, though it required a considerable re-think due to the instrument's radically different design and range. Working with Ruth was hugely rewarding. She took a little persuading before she would agree to meddle with the finely poised tuning of her instrument, but after a number of exploratory workshops and much rehearsal, our efforts began to reap great rewards.

The tuning mechanism found on
Ruth Wall's 'Mark Norris' model
photo by Christopher Best

Ruth in rehearsal at
Wapping Power Station
photo by Christopher Best