"The beginning sparks for
might easily have happened years ago when I learned to play and tune the piano for La Monte Young’s
The Well-Tuned Piano
,” explains Harrison. He’s referring to a masterpiece of minimalism for solo piano that takes up to six hours to play and requires hours upon hours of meticulous instrument tuning.
"It's all long tones. It's the singers as bells, or the singers as drones or as pure pitch," says artistic director Brad Wells about a composition perfectly suited for the deep resonance of The Tank. “Michael found an organic way to compose for the group."
“I was also singing and studying classical Indian vocal music, which relies on just intonation tunings. Over the years, I often imagined how the sustained harmonies I produced on the piano might translate to the voice, but this could only be achieved with an ensemble of voices.”
Those ideas became a reality when Roomful commissioned Harrison, who could now tailor a piece written in just intonation to eight individual voices.
“Every time I had a new draft, we would rehearse it and they would give me feedback,” as he describes it. “Then, I would revise the score, and we would do the same thing a few days later with a new draft. I was in composer heaven!"