I encountered morning rush hour on my way to the studio – to my shock. (Why do I always forget that rush hour is a thing?)
It took about forty minutes to set up, tune the harp to recording standards, and catch up with my recording engineer, Steve. This will be my third solo album recorded and mastered by Steve, who is a miracle-worker.
We worked through all seven tunes on my schedule for the first session and I left the studio feeling quite satisfied with myself.
That afternoon I had the pleasure of attending an incredible media performance by Russian harpist Alexander Boldachev at The Dakota in Minneapolis.
Leaving downtown, I blasted my favorite Scottish bagpipe CD at full volume. I’ve never pulled up next to another car with speakers blaring “Jenny Dang the Weaver” or “Atholl Highlanders,” but I wish I would.
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” right?
My Jolie was spending the night at the studio, so I sat down to practice at my pedal harp. After a few tunes I felt my right hand growing tight from playing my Scottish repertoire on pedal-harp-tension strings. I pulled out my Gothic harp instead. Though shaped completely differently from my Jolie, it had a nice low string tension that would keep my arms and fingers fresh for the next day of recording. Enthusiasm can be a dangerous influence if not tempered by wisdom and experience.
I especially wanted to practice the set of two marches on my day two schedule. I had been reminded that first day, to my chagrin, that I am not a machine when it comes to rhythm, and that it is good to actually check the musical pulse against a metronome rather than assuming you are playing in time because the music feels in time.
And yes, the metronome, astonishingly, seemed to speed up and slow down: the sure sign that I was the one speeding up and slowing down. Variations in tempo are never desirable in a march, unless you are trying to play a prank on whoever is supposed to be doing the marching.
I took a break to grab a snack and realized as I set a knife to the cheese that my hands were shaking. I frowned. Had I really been practicing that intensely? Was I feeling nervous for tomorrow? Then I recalled my habitual two cups of morning coffee, the mid-morning English Breakfast Tea at the studio, and the latte at The Dakota. No more caffeine for the day.
Twin-Cities harpist Stephanie Claussen invites audiences to explore new locales and eras through her music. Influenced by her love of fairy tales, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the world music section at her local library, she performs a unique mixture of Scottish tunes, J.S. Bach, and anything rich in medieval or French harmonies. Sign up for her e-mail newsletter to receive important announcements and notifications of upcoming performances.