Larry Polansky (b. 1954) is a composer, theorist, teacher, writer, performer, programmer, editor and publisher. He lives in Santa Cruz, California, and teaches at the University of California at Santa Cruz. He is also the Emeritus Strauss Professor of Music at Dartmouth College, and co-director and co-founder of Frog Peak Music.
Hunter Coblentz (b.1988) is a Canadian composer living in London, England. He was Composer-in-Residence at Handel House (2015-17). He has written music for ensembles such as The London Philharmonic Orchestra & Fidelio Trio. He has been commissioned by organizations such as The Royal Philharmonic Society and The Handel House Trust.
Performer & Recording Engineer, Hunter Coblentz.
Copyright © Larry Polansky & Hunter Coblentz (2018).
Recorded in London, England (2017-18).
Music for Tuned Glass (2018)
"Beyond being merely exercises in alternate tunings, these are two works of contemplative beauty, and explorations of the "unearthly" timbres of tuned glasses." - Other Minds
Independently released by American composer Larry Polansky and myself, April 2018. Recorded in London, England. Featuring two previously unperformed, unrecorded works: Glass (1978-9), for 17 performers and 42 tuned glasses, by Larry Polansky, and my work Lattice (2018), for 4 performers and 27 tuned glasses.
Physical copies of this album are available via the Other Minds webstore. Please click here for more details.
Glass was composed in response to a request by Toronto’s Glass Orchestra, in the late 1970s. I had just completed the piece Psaltery (for Lou Harrison), a tape piece constructed from a recording of one string of a hand-held bowed psaltery (built by Capritaurus Instruments in Santa Cruz, California). Glass is essentially the same piece, but realized in a very different (and in many ways, more ideal) medium.
I created a score for Glass, since there had been no score for Psaltery, only a simple sketch. Performance of the piece, however, turned out to be more or less impossible for logistical reasons: too many players; too many water glasses; too many pitches. These problems were further compounded by the evaporative difficulties of maintaining correct intonations over the course of the piece. For those reasons, Glass sat on a shelf, nearly forgotten, for some 40 years, until Hunter Coblentz asked me for the score.
Glass/(Psaltery) comprises 51 pitches, the first 17 harmonics of three different fundamentals, related to each other as ratios of 1:5:3, or a major triad. Harmonics from the higher series (5 and 3) are actually higher harmonics of the first. After building up the initial series on the fundamental from simplest to most complex harmonic (1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 3, 6, 12, 9, 5, 10, 15, 7, 14, 11, 13, 17, in what I call “psaltery order”), pitches from the next series (5, or the M3rd) gradually replace their “closest neighbours” until the series on 5 is complete. This process happens twice more, moving to the P5th (on 3), and back to the fundamental. Finally, the series on the fundamental drops out.
Harmonics of the new, replacing fundamental enter in reverse “psaltery order:” 17, 13, 11, 14, 7, 15, 10, 5, 9, 12, 6, 3, 16, 8, 4, 2, 1. In this way, more distantly related harmonics of a new series enter first, crossfading with neighbour pitches from the current series so that, at first only a “mistuning” is heard. Gradually, lower harmonics of the new series begin to imply a new fundamental, through difference tones and our own sense of harmony. Finally, pitches of the first series gradually drop off from highest to lowest.
This CD is the first opportunity for anyone — including me — to hear the piece. Finally hearing it was a joyful revelation. I am greatly indebted to Hunter Coblentz. Without his extraordinary skill and dedication, it could easily have been another forty years.
Larry Polansky | Santa Cruz, California | 23/2/18
Lattice is a work composed for 4 musicians and 27 tuned glasses. In early 2017 I began collecting glasses of various shapes and sizes in preparation for what would eventually materialize as this work. The tuned glass is particularly suitable for investigations into tuning & pitch, and yet surprisingly few works for tuned glasses exist outside Twelve-Tone Equal Temperament. Musicologist Bob Gilmore wrote of one ambitious work, Larry Polansky’s Glass (1978-9), that proved to be very instructive in demonstrating how one might navigate the possibilities and limitations that exist within the medium.
In Lattice, pitches relate to one another via Just, septimal harmonic relationships; spiralling ad infinitum through pitch space away from any intonational focus or key. This compositional approach Lou Harrison called ‘free-style.’ In it one observes no scalar constraint as pitches wander freely, the music drifting in harmonic space. In Lattice, beating between tones is formally controlled through glissandi, achieved by tilting a sounding glass on its vertical axis.
I am grateful to Larry Polansky, for his permission & blessing to record his wonderful work, and for inspiring me to begin my own musical explorations in tuned glass.
Hunter Coblentz | London, England | 23/2/18