It took five years, 500 sheets of paper, twenty one studio dates, three engineers, one harpist and many thousands of dollars to finish the cassette tape version of The Crystal Harp in 1992. Now, twenty three years later, it took only a year of sporadic work, a fantastic remastering at Coyote Studios by Sean McCue, and a few more thousand dollars to finish up the digital CD and downloadable version.
I'm a cellist, but my story is about a harp... Once upon a time, in 1988, I recorded two new age/folk CD's with Celtic harpist Kim Robertson. (Invincible: "Gratitude" and "Celtic Christmas II") The harp/cello combination is pure magic, and I knew it would provide the ideal underscore for a fairy tale. I searched the library and read a lot of great fairy tales, but some were too short, some were too long, and none were "just right". So, like The Little Red Hen, I wrote it myself.
Armed with dictionary, thesaurus and "The Elements of Style" I thought of a title and wrote "The Crystal Harp", or so I thought. I revised countless times, and I fussed with it until it was time to record. Now that you've met the Little Red Hen, you know who had to narrate it!
Then I lost my chosen composer and harpist when Kim moved away from Ojai. It seemed like "The End" until my rooster husband hen pecked me into writing the music myself. I felt like a real dumb cluck, and wished I had listened more closely in music theory class. But I sat down at the piano, discovered I could write a tune that painted a picture in the story and continued to write nearly 40 minutes worth of music. Then I got lucky and found Christine Holvick, a Santa Barbara harpist who could realize the zillions of notes in the harp part. I sure wasn't going to write all that down! I wrote the melodies and a simple chord chart, but all the harp arrangements were the inspiration of Christine.
At last, with my material assembled, I had to hit the ground running because my engineer was going to dismantle his studio in a mere month. And The Little Red Hen had to add producer and principal and second cellist to her DIY list. Twenty three years later I can hardly believe I learned to play the ocharina for Emery's whistling tune and also take pride in the recorder and tambourine parts. The recording sessions went: "One two, catch the cue, three four, read the score, five six, with the clicks, seven eight, rewind the tape, nine ten, try it again."
The two inch wide twelve track tape required extra hands when it came time to mix. I got to direct, giving verbal cues to my trio of "good old boys" as they mixed: "Mute track three after the music... breaking glass after the word 'mirror'... begin the echo gradually". I noticed that men are sort of not used to listening to women, so it was a challenge to my assertiveness. The guys really got into the project, though, keeping time with the music and offering comments like, "That was damn cute!" and "This is really magical!" I'll never forget Darryl Kutz popping up from behind the console with a horrified look on his face when the crystal harp got stolen. All the engineers contributed suggestions, and each, including Sean during the remastering in 2016, left his mark on the creation. I've never had as much fun spending money as I did mixing fairy tale magic in a recording studio.
Well Emery, my cheese-eating, harp-polishing hero, strode into the world able to make anything but money, a lot like my husband Steve, without whom The Crystal Harp would never, and could never, have been done. His clever hands did all the artwork that covers the jacket and the disc, and he mapped the journey.
Cary Memorial Public Library town of Lexington Massachusetts * Washington County * Public Library of De Moines * International School of Kuala Lumpur * Schaumburg Township District Library * City of Rochester * Champaigne Library * Judson Independent School District * City of Palo Alto * International School Services Inc. Princeton * Huckleberry Hill School at Brookfield Public School * Waldorf School * Longwood Public Library * Hernando Public Library * Green County Public Library * Arlington Heighths Public Library * Manitowoc Public Library * Highland Park Illinois Public Library * Williamsburg Regional Library * Longwood Public Library New York * Springfield Lincoln Library Illinois * Bibliotheque Publique Villa de Pointe-Claire in Quebec