Lou Harrison: Beta NF (IEI or EIE)

- from Lou Harrison’s Chamber and Gamelan Works CD booklet; pp. 9-10

[COMPOSER’S NOTES (Concerto in Slendro)]: The Concerto in Slendro was

composed in 1961 aboard the S.S. New York en route to Japan. It is filled with my eager

anticipation of a first taste of the beauty and bustle of Asia. The title derives from the fine

Indonesian theoretical term denoting any five-tone mode in which the “seconds” are, roughly,

“major” (or large) and the “thirds” are “minor” (or small). A complimentary term “Pelog” refers

to the opposite kind of mode—“seconds” (small) and “thirds” (wide). This concerto uses two

Slendro type modes only: the “Prime Pentatonic” (if you will) and its associated “minor.”

These two modes are perhaps the most common and generally loved of all man’s

modes—the first is practically the “Human Song.” In this recording, the two modes are heard in

correct “just intonation” on a general basis 25/24 below A440, exactly as I intended.


- Lou Harrison: “You know, I've always maintained that if you have a folk, you have a folk song or folk music. Of course, the United States doesn't really have a folk, so the universities had to turn them out, and so there were hundreds and hundreds of folk singers turned out by the Universities.”

- Alan Baker: “Yeah, I wonder if that has something to do with just the size of the country, or what ... ?”

- Lou Harrison: “It's not only the size of the country, which means since we have spots, like Appalachia, and the West, and so on ... Yeah, that's true, but we also have now, from those spots, each of them has spread so we have a whole series of layers of things. I've just fallen for country western for example, and I didn't know where it came from or why, but it was something that attracted me. That's a layer thing, because I couldn't say where country western comes from. Is it cowboy land? It's not Appalachia, that's for sure, though some of it sounds like it. It's hard, but we do have layers in our culture, like cake.”


- Drew80: “[Lou] Harrison was, of course, a very, very strange man.

The photograph below shows Harrison in 1939, when Harrison was 22 years old. One may see from the photograph that Harrison, as a young man, was already a social misfit—although one would be unable to guess from the photograph alone how truly bizarre Harrison would become only a few short years hence.

Any cursory reading of Harrison’s letters, published and unpublished (many are available online), puts his sanity—as well as his intelligence—into question. He was, all in all, a rather frightening creature.”

[Keep in mind that Lou Harrison was American and gay-identified. Drew80 is American, and also probably straight-identified, Te/Fi and/or ‘conservative’, or something along those lines.]

Lou Harrison 1939.jpg