I've been thinking a lot lately about how much of my creative output is influence by words and images. Most of my recent compositions have been in direct response to poems that have hit home to me. Poetry by Christina Rossetti, Emily Dickenson, Simon Armitage and Rupi Kaur have all inspired music in me this past year.
I've always been interested in art since my school days when I studied it at A level. At the time I was in sixth form in London and by luck my school was in Pimlico and I would regularly go with a friend to the cafe at the Tate Gallery on the south bank. Every time we went we would do a quick tour of our favourite paintings before descending down to the cafe for a cup of Earl Grey tea. It all seemed the height of sophistication as a teenager in the 1980s!
And here I am over 30 years later, starting a compositional journey as a middle aged woman in my 50s with all the poetry and imagery I've greedily consumed over the years swirling around my head, inspiring me to make music and it makes my heart sing.
***Practice charts for all the Grades now available HERE***
Here is a free teaching resource which I have done and you are very welcome to use with your students if it's helpful to you. Practice charts for all the scales and arpeggios in the Trinity exams harp syllabus for Grade 8 for both LEVER and PEDAL harps. Every single permutation of scale and arpeggio is listed which makes it much easier for students to get through absolutely every scale and arpeggio they need to practice for their exam.
If they aim to do at least 5 different scales/arpeggios each practice session and tick them off as they do them it won't take them for them to get through them all. I encourage my students to select across different keys and types of scales/arpeggios to complete the cycle rather then going through it in sequential order, but whatever works best for everyone; they are all there.
Hope these are helpful!
GRADE 8 Lever harp scales and arpeggio practice charts TRINITY Syllabus
GRADE 8 Pedal harp scales and arpeggio practice charts TRINITY Syllabus
This is a free resource for the harp community, but if you'd like to buy me a virtual coffee that would be very welcome!
Introduction to note bending techniques used in my compositions, Beyond the Horizon & Celestial Spirals
Written in 2019, Beyond the Horizon and Celestial Spirals share the same 3 note motif and can be played together as a two movement work or individually. Both pieces explore an ethereal ‘out of this world’ soundscape and feature on Lauren Scott’s debut album, ‘Beyond the Horizon’ - New Music for Lever Harp (AVIE2417). Written for lever harp, they can also be played on pedal harp with some adaptation by the player.
Beyond the Horizon features various note bending techniques developed by Lauren to evoke the feelings of floating beyond the atmosphere. Celestial Spirals features a buzzing sound from having a paperclip resting at the base of just one string to create an alternative sound world which underlines the spirals that flow through the piece before coming back to it’s original starting point.
Here on this page, Lauren demonstrates the various techniques and shows how they can be achieved on different types of harps.
A run through of all the different effects in Beyond the Horizon.
A run through of all the special effects during first 4 measures of Celestial Spirals.
Using the paperclip in Celestial Spirals.
Playing the different effects in context within Celestial Spirals.
Demonstrating the different effects in Beyond the Horizon on a heavy gauge string lever harp.
Demonstrating the different effects in Beyond the Horizon on a concert harp.
Beyond the Horizon and Celestial Spirals is now published as sheet music and available HERE
I hope you enjoy learning the music and if you post any performances online of my music please tag me in as I would love to see them!
I am very humbled that several of my compositions have been selected onto the new AMEB harp syllabus. My thanks go to Alice Giles who oversaw the selection of the new harp syllabus for the Australian Music Examinations Board and to the harpists I have met in West Australia who have been so supportive.
The pieces that have been selected are:
Gypsy Dance - (Certificate of Performance Lever Harp) AMEB 2021
Lapkon's Spinning Wheel - (Grade 7) on AMEB Harp Syllabus 2021
Caribbean Daydreams - (Grade 5) on AMEB Harp Syllabus 2021
Habanera Caprichosa - (Grade 8) on AMEB Harp Syllabus 2021
I was hoping to travel to my birth country last year but covid had other ideas, and it seems that a return to Australia will of course be some way off now. So to celebrate Habanera Caprichosa being selected as a Grade 8 AMEB piece I have created an on demand video tutorial.
International travel seems a long distance memory now post covid, but I continue to hope that I will get a chance to return to Australia soon!
Harp Habanera online course is available HERE
I am extremely grateful to be a recipient of the 'Developing Your Creative Practice' award from Arts Council England. I will be spending 2021 undertaking a year long period improving my compositional skills, and will also be Composer in Residence with Harps North West during this time. I'll be writing harps North West three new works for harp ensemble and I've also mapped out a years worth of compositional self-study which I'm really looking forward to diving into.
Again, I cannot begin to express enough my gratitude to Arts Council England for this support when I am acutely aware of how much of a struggle it is right now for everyone in the Arts. There is another round of grant applications about to open, so I would encourage all creatives to go online and apply. This grant will not only be allowing me to further my compositional skills, but also gives 2021 a much needed overall structure, which in the absence of freelance gigs is extremely welcome.
I'll also be in the studio soon finishing off recording my second album which will be released by Avie Records in Autumn 2021. It will include six of my compositions, including 3 harp quartets that I wrote at the beginning of 2020 commissioned by PRS Foundation 'Women Make Music' and my harp duo, 'Sea of Stars' for lever harp & pedal harp. I'm very grateful to the wonderful harpists Eleanor Turner, Alexander Rider and Elizabeth Bass for joining me and recording my music.
I've only recently embarked on a creative compositional journey having started writing music in 2018, so this all seems a bit of a whirlwind! But I am very grateful for everyones support and I hope to be scribbling lots more dots throughout 2021.
LINK for more about Lauren's music HERE
I'm absolutely thrilled that my composition Elegy has been selected as one of Harp Columns 30 day practice challenges as a DREAM BIG Original solo for lever harp.
In this blog post I have created a series of mini tutorials which I hope will be a useful aid for anyone taking on the challenge of learning Elegy as part of the Harp Column practice challenge.
If you have any questions throughout the month about the piece please leave a comment below and I'll get back to you.
Here is the audio of Elegy and the PDF of the sheet music can be downloaded from Harp Column HERE
Elegy breaks down into 7 sections and I have created a mini tutorial covering each section of the piece.
This first video is an over view on creating the VIBRATO effect which occurs throughout the piece
1st section - m.1-16
2nd section - m.17-24
3rd section - m. 25-36
4th section - m.37-40
5th section - m. 41-48
6th section - m.49-56
7th section - m. 57-end
I hope these are helpful, and thank you so much for learning my music. If you post any videos on social media please tag me in as I would love to see them! x
I was recently asked by my friends at the Macclesfield Music Centre to provide a short video introduction to the harp suitable for school age children. So here is my offering which is by way of a bit of Nutcracker, Dr Who, Havana and my best BBC posh speaking voice.
I recorded it in one take, and I was very conscious at the time to speak clearly and slowly. The resulting posh teaching / announcing voice I use throughout it is hilarious and not how I normally speak. It's less than 5 minutes long and I demonstrate on pedal harp as well as lever harp.
Delighted to be kick starting this years Online Advent Calendar for Scala Radio playing Silent Night arranged by Marcel Grandjany
In this very short video I demonstrate how to play an effect which I've developed and use in my piece Celestial Spirals. I've called them xylo-harmonics, but essentially they are false harmonics, and it's a handy technique to have 'up your sleeve' if you ever have a problematic string which has a stubborn harmonic and you want to produce a pure harmonic sound.
Here, you can see how they are used in context in the opening and closing sections of Celestial Spirals.
I find you can also have more control over dynamics using this effect than you can with harmonics.
I recently did a short live session and interview with Dave Graham who runs the Piano Cafe in Oakham. Its a very short interview where I briefly explain how I got into composing (in lieu of a mid-life crises) and how teaching now is so much better than it was in the 1980's!!
I recorded a short concert for the Harp on Wight Festival which you can watch a clip of below. The full online concert was introduced by Eira Lynn Jones and included a short concert by Anne Denholm.
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Lauren Scott is a harpist & composer and has been blogging on Harpyness for over 10 years.
If you enjoy reading Harpyness and you'd like to buy me a virtual coffee that would be very welcome! Cheers!