As long as simply beautiful sounds are on the menu, I need to mention Lauren Scott’s entrancing new disc all for lever harp, Beyond the Horizon. Her love affair with the instrument came when she performed John Cage’s halting and poignant In a Landscape. She found it didn’t quite work on the instrument it was intended for, but came alive when played on the earthier folk instrument. This led to a rethinking of music that might speak better through the subtlety of gut strings, a thinner sound board and less dampening. Unlike any other recording I have heard in this idiom, Scott brings the rigor of classical pedal harp to the intimacy of this more traditional world. It’s not simply in well-known works like Peter Maxwell Davies Farewell to Stromness or Douwe Eisenga’s heartfelt For Mattia, but also in the more upbeat like Monica Stadler’s Away for A While in which the ringing strings blossom into a kaleidoscope of color. An object lesson to those of us attempting to tap into our creative voice, when Scott began playing the folk harp, composing her own music came “like a shot out of the blue,” and we are the beneficiaries of a raft of delightful original works.
Review by Alexander Rider for HARP Magazine
Elegy - Lauren Scott (published Astute Music) The irrepressible Lauren is turning her considerable energy to writing extensively for the lever harp. Her music collections have been favourably reviewed in these pages. Although I recently premiered it, I’d like to mark the publication of this lovely stand-alone solo. The composer writes: "Elegy is based on an insistent recurring vibratonote, reminiscent of an ululation. Many cultures use this haunting sound to express sorrow, emotion and reverence". Scott makes ingenious use of effects, most notably that of vibrato, to lend sonorous expressivity to the repeated motives. Her music is open, expressive and filmic and a real hit with audiences. Highly recommended.
Review by Jan Jennings for HARP COLUMN Magazine
This next book is one to put on your wish list for Santa. Adventures for Lever Harp Book 1is a delightful new book of original solos for lever harp by Lauren Scott. Published by Astute Music Ltd. (www.astute-music.com), it is available as a book or PDF download. Although composed for a 34-string lever harp, most selections are playable on pedal harp with some minor adaptations and pedal changes. They are intended for intermediate to advanced players, and each piece focuses on one or two techniques. “Gecko Dance”is a lively, jazzy tune with syncopated (clave) rhythm and some percussive taps on the harp. Soundboard taps are indicated by cross-head notes and taps on the body of the harp are indicated by triangle-head notes. As with all the pieces in the book, levers are pre-set and no changes are required during a piece. This is just two pages in length and, with repeats, is only about a minute and a half long. “Habanera Caprichosa” is dramatic and almost twice as long. It also includes percussive sounds as well as a short cadenza, glisses, and some dampening techniques. Ms. Scott encourages improvisation by suggesting substituting a scale pattern for the arpeggio pattern in certain measures. “Caribbean Daydreams” is a happy, feel-good melody meant to capture the quality of steel drums. Mission accomplished. Written in A major, it can still be played on a lever harp tuned to E-flat. There is one page turn that is easy to manage. Light and airy describes “The First Flight of Spring,” written in an unusual 10/8 time signature. It is played mostly in the upper registers of the harp with the right hand repeating an arpeggio pattern while accenting the thumb. The theme appears at the end in harmonics. It moves quickly and gracefully with a carefree expression. The final piece is “Lapkon’s Spinning Wheel,” and this one would be difficult on pedal harp. Don’t let the A-flat key signature confuse you. This still works on a lever harp tuned to E-flat, as you don’t actually need any D-flats. In fact, you need some D-sharps, so don’t retune. There are 34 pre-set levers. The composer instructs you to attach paper clips and a plastic coil around some fifth octave strings to create buzzing brays. The right hand plays primarily triplets with the thumb accented. At one point you create xylophonic sounds by pressing on three strings near the eyelets with the left hand. There are some rhythmic, downward nail glisses, and you get to choose where you want to play them on the harp. There are some scale glisses and one last, dramatic downward gliss followed by a slap to the soundboard at the end. There is also a second volume which, according to Scott’s website, “explores the extended harmonic possibilities unique to the lever harp through accessible and enjoyable music for the listener and player.” All of the pieces in the book are rhythmic and fun to play. If you’re curious to hear them before purchasing the book, there are videos and Soundcloud clips of Ms. Scott playing all these compositions on her website at www.lauren-scott-harp.co.uk. For those who play or teach lever harp, these entertaining and innovative pieces are a welcome addition to the repertoire, and audiences should find these tunes interesting and engaging. Listen to the tunes on her website and see if you don’t agree. •
Review by Denise Grupp-Verbon for Folk Harp Journal "Adventures for lever Harp" Book 1 by Lauren Scott. By Lauren Scott. Published by Astute Music, 2018. 20 pages. $20. Available from Harp Column Music. Includes: "Gecko Dance," "Habanera Caprichosa," "Caribbean Dreams," "The First Flight of Spring," and "Lapkon's Spinning Wheel," Videos of each tune are available online at Lauren-Scott-Harp.co.uk Also available is Adventures for Lever Harp Book 2
We don't often find an intermediate to advanced book for lever harp, so I was excited to see this publication. Lauren composed these for 'fully levered 34 string harps." You will find lots of fun syncopated rhythms, glisses, harmonics, triplets, and one unique time signature (10/8). Lauren has included quite a variety of special effects in these compositions. You will find taps on the soundboard and the body of the harp, bisbigliando, dampening, downward nail glisses, and even the creation of a bray sound using paperclips to prepare specific strings. Included are helpful fingerings and the music is notated clearly, with the lever required marked at the beingging of each composition - there are no lever changes during the tunes. There are no chord symbols. This collection is ideal for professionals, or for the advanced student. I plan to use one or two of the selections for my annual recital.
Review by Monika Stadler for HARP Magazine New Publication "Adventures for lever Harp" Book 1 by Lauren Scott. "This is a brilliant collection of original compositions for the lever harp - intermediate to advanced level.
It takes one on a journey through different moods from the sultry slightly jazzy Gecko Dance, to the wonderful Habanera Caprichosa. Then there is the sunny, happy Caribbean Daydreams which make you smile and also a dreamy and light The First Flight of Spring written in unusual 10 eigths, and ending with the Lapkon´s Spinning Wheel.
This makes it all very atmospheric and creative with the use of xlyophonic sounds, tapping on the soundboard as well as unusual lever settings giving the compositions many extra colours.
The notation and expression marks are written very clearly which are extremely helpful also.
This is a wonderful addition to anyone's lever harp music collection, leading away from the cliched music and I highly recommend it."
Review by Michelle Velvin and Becky Swan for Harp Society of New Zealand
Adventures for the Lever Harp Book 1 5 intermediate to advance pieces by Lauren Scott With winter well underway, what a better time for an introduction of a new book of groovy music for the intermediate to advanced harpist. The five pieces contained in this work have a wide range of titles that evoke images and thoughts of springtime, dancing and holidays in tropical places. All five pieces are specifically written for lever harp, but are possible on pedal harp too with only a few easy pedal changes. The Publication The book or pdf download (available in both formats) includes 5 pieces at approximately grade 5 and up level, although the focus of these pieces is on creating and capturing the character of the music rather than on technical elements. The pieces vary in length from 2 to 7 pages, syncopation and percussion is a focus in most of the pieces. Lever markings are given at the beginning of each piece, with no lever changes during the piece, so one can focus on the rhythmic and percussive elements of the music. This is a definite advantage for lever harp players! Guidance is provided as to the rhythms and how to bring out the various elements of the piece; as well as some background on each piece to help inspire your own performance of the music. This publication is available on Lauren’s website with sample pages shown https://www.lauren-scott-harp.co.uk or from the publisher www.astute-music.com. Also available on soundcloud are recordings of each piece, and a couple are on youtube as well. Many are linked on Lauren’s website: https://www.lauren-scott-harp.co.uk/adventures-for-lever-harp.html One of the reasons I particularly like this book is I think players and listeners alike will really engage with it, a sense of fun and adventure that will put smiles on performers and listeners alike. It’s always good for a gigging harpist to have a few pieces of this nature to pull out and recapture an audience’s attention. I have enjoyed these pieces for many reasons, but mostly for their very catchy tunes with lots of groove and their so very well placed extended techniques! Each piece is musically satisfying and fun to play. They are programmatic and will be very accessible to an audience of non-musicians and musicians alike.
During Covid-19, like every other freelance musician, my ability to earn a living has been severely impacted. I always put total commitment and energy into every music project I do. If you are in a position to, you can donate via my ko-fi account and any support you can give is very much appreciated.