The Salutation

The Salutation (clarsach and tape, 2002)

In The Salutation my aim was to find a new voice for the clarsach exploring its sound, its music and its history. 

There is a slow air which uses the instrument in a recognisable, characteristic way, but it also builds upon ornamentation characteristic of traditional Scottish clarsach music and the distinctive playing style of Catriona McKay for whom the piece was written.

The live instrument is immersed in a pre-recorded electroacoustic part which began with recordings of the voice of Margaret Hughes of Anstruther, who I recorded in the Spring of 2000. Margaret describes how she worked as "a fisher quine" gutting herring in the late 1930s in the Shetland islands. I loved the music of her speech, and wanted to find links between her story telling, and the musical voice of the clarsach.  Her voice is set within a soundscape of transformed clarsach, along with other sounds creating a backdrop for the narrative: the ticking of a grandfather clock, the harbour in Anstruther and the sea.

The Salutation was commissioned by Catriona McKay who premiered it at the Edinburgh International Harp Festival in 2002.