Elegy is based on an insistent recurring vibrato note, reminiscent of an ululation. Many cultures use this haunting sound to express sorrow, emotion and reverence. The anniversary of the loss of a loved-one is always a poignant time, and the other-worldly sound of the ululation captures that sense of loss. It also signifies inner strength, dignity and respectful remembrance long after the initial grief has subsided. Elegy was composed in the lead up to the 100 year anniversary of the Armistice Day and was premiered by Alexander Rider on 4th January 2019.
The constant vibrato note throughout this piece on the 3rd Octave D (2 D’s above middle C) needs to be played strongly so that the wide trill effect can be heard clearly. For the vibrato effect pluck the string with the Right Hand as you would normally and at the same time press and release the Left Hand thumb against the string just below the tuning pin. Keep pressing and releasing the L.H thumb to produce a longer trill/vibrato. If you rest and gently ‘anchor’ your fingers over the neck of your harp, you can leave your thumb in position over the D string in readiness to add the vibrato effect as needed. All harps differ, so in order to find the optimum left hand position, I personally suggest one of the following; 1. The usual place where your thumb would make contact with a string when plucking normally, 2. slightly lower than your usual playing position towards the base of your middle thumb joint, 3. near the top of your thumb pad so that you also have the edge of your nail (without bending the nail back) along with your thumb tip connecting with the string. Depending on the string tension on your particular lever harp, the strength needed to produce the vibrato may vary and one of these positions might work better than another. You may also prefer to vary the position throughout the piece to avoid overusing any one part of your thumb.
PLEASE NOTE – This piece was written for standard or light gauge lever harp, and this effect is not possible at the required pitch on pedal harps.
The composer has created a series of free mini tutorials on this piece HERE