Scorpions (with stings in their tails). – Opus 124 (2016)
“Scorpions” was commissioned by the American Harp Society for Duo Scorpio.
The name of the group Duo Scorpio and particularly the simultaneous date of the birthdays of Katie and Kristi, both born on the 5th November 1982 inspired Paul Patterson to base the main melodic line of the work on the 6 numbers of their birthday!
The system he used to find and create this melody was to start on C the lowest note of the harp and give numbers from 1-12 to all the upward notes in the chromatic scale, so for example their birthday 5/11/1982 would produce the notes E Bb C Ab G Db. The opening chord contains all 6 digits of their birthday, there is a strong element of dissonance giving the immediate sense of conflict and competition between the two scorpions whose space is being invaded by the other!
The work starts with a fiery exchange of notes including many percussion effects, such as tapping the body of the instruments as if they were drums, plus clapping and stamping of the feet. The birthday motif is extended and passed around the players in aggressive ways as the conflict between the two harps develops and the use of pedal glissandi becomes a big feature. After an intensive series of interactive passages the turmoil subsides and the atmosphere becomes calmer as the scorpions start to relax and the birthday motif becomes more tranquil with the use of soothing chords, gentle harmonics and atmospheric glissandos. Following this with a few intrusions the energy gradually begins to build leading into a vigorous finale where the melody is transformed into a high-spirited toccata. Like all scorpions there is always a sting in their tail, as you will hear at the very end!
The European premiere of Paul Patterson’s ‘Scorpions’, performed March 9th 2017 at The Royal Northern College of Music.
Chroma Duo harpists: Lucy Nolan, and Becki McIlroy.
Commission: American Harp Society Dedication: Duo Scorpio Publisher: Josef Weinberger
RNCM Concert Hall, Manchester, 9th March 2017
RNCM Harp Ensemble / Eira Lynn Jones, director