Another You (17 Variations for Solo Harp in Just Intonation)
for alyssa hess
(Composed from 1976-80, in Urbana, IL., Moscow, Idaho, and Lennox, MA.
Premiered by Alyssa Hess, at Carnegie Recital Hall, 1979, and the revised version at Roulette, 1980. Forthcoming recording by Alyssa Hess Reit on Larry Polansky's solo CD, Simple Harmonic Motion, from Artifact Recordings. With important editorial and musical contributions from Alyssa Hess). Score available from Frog Peak Music (A Composers's Collective), Box 1052, Lebanon, NH 03766
Another You is a set of 17 variations on the jazz standard. The harp tuning is based directly on the harmonic series, in such a way that no two octaves of the harp are the same. Natural harmonics up to the fifth are used throughout the piece in order to obtain more complex secondary ratios from the harmonic series tuned strings. The highest prime used for the open strings is the 17th, and no pedals are used (except briefly, as a sort of quote, in the last variation), so that the pedal action harp is used like a giant folk harp, or psaltery.
Each variation, about 1 minute long, consists of only one structural or formal idea (often based on the tuning itself), and that idea is in most cases stripped down to a very primitive and unelaborated incarnation. The tune itself appears in only 5 or 6 of the variations, and the other variations are constructed from harmonic, semantic, musical, or even, to some extent, spritiual connotations that the tune had for me. Most of the variations are rather systematic intonational studies as well, often exploring complex tonalities through the use of higher string harmonics and the richness of the tuning itself.
Another You is one of the last works I completed before leaving New York for California in 1980, and is additionally, one of my last large words that doesn't involve in some way the use of machine- assisted musical artificial intelligence.