The works of Canadian composer Chris Paul Harman have been performed by ensembles in Canada and abroad including the Camerata Aberta (São Paulo), Esprit Orchestra (Toronto), the NIeuw Ensemble (Amsterdam), the Philharmonia Orchestra (London, UK) and the Tokyo Symphony. His awards include Selected and Recommended Works at the International Rostrum of Composers in Paris (1991, 1994) and a nomination for the Prix de Composition Musicale de la Fondation Prince Pierre de Monaco (2002). Since 2005, he has served as a professor of composition at McGill University in Montreal.
During my stay at Civitella Ranieri in May/June 2018, I made inroads into a new work for violin and piano. Provisionally titled White Lines, this work (still in progress) will draw on musical material from a 1983 rap song of the same name by Melle Mel (a song that itself draws on musical material from another song – Cavern – recorded by the New York-based band Liquid Liquid, also in 1983). The Liquid Liquid/Melle Mel songs reposit several distinctive musical motives: a single note (C) played in fast repeated sixteenth-notes; a two-note (A-C) bass ostinato in 12/16 (set within a 4/4 metre); a paraphrase of the Beatles’ Twist and Shout‘s unfolding dominant-ninth chord gesture (Ah–! Ah–!! Ah–!!! Ah–!!!!) on G; a B-major root-position triad that slides up into a C-major root-position triad; a simple four-bar three-note diatonic melody in C-major; and a multiply-octave-doubled bass line refrain in irregular rhythm outlining a blues scale on G. All of these motives will be transformed (in various ways) and fashioned into an alternately fragmented and quasi-continuous narrative in my new work.
The accompanying audio example features an excerpt from an earlier piece for violin and piano, Midnight with the Stars and You (1999/2000), based on a 1930s dance band song by Ray Noble. The performers are violinist Marc Sabat and pianist Stephen Clarke.
Chris Paul Harman
June 21, 2018