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JazzLife UK

Gondwanaland and the Mystical North

By Published: May 24, 2011
It might just be me, but harpists never seem to be hitting the right strings to make the music I hear. When I watch drummers drumming, fiddlers fiddling, horn players fingering and blowing, the sounds I hear match the movements I see. My eyes and ears are as one, my mind is content. Looking at the hands of a harpist, it too often seems as if what I see and what I hear are not connected.

I could pretend that my quandary began as I engaged in deep study of the performances of Alice Coltrane, but it wouldn't be true. It began as I engaged in repeated viewings of classic Marx Brothers movies. True, Harpo's ability to burn a candle at both ends was mystical enough—but how did his fingers make the sounds I was hearing? At times it was almost too much to take.

Rachael Gladwin

Watching Rachael Gladwin, as she played with the Matthew Halsall band brought this oddly disconcerting sensation to the fore again. It's a beautiful instrument, and Gladwin creates a beautiful sound, so why does my brain refuse to marry sight and sound as it should?

But, on the whole, my cheery optimism continues: there's still nothing wrong. Or at least there won't be, once I solve the harp conundrum.

Photo Credit
All Photos: Bruce Lindsay

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