Strings & Shadows

Åke Parmerud

Strings & Shadows

  • Åke Parmerud
  • Year of composition: 1993
  • Duration: 10:04
  • Instrumentation: harp and stereo fixed medium
  • Publisher(s): Ymx média
  • Commission: NOMUS, for harpist Sofia Asunción Claro
  • ISWC: T9118654970

In Strings & Shadows the strings of the harp act like gates that open up and let out a variety of other instrumental, quasi-instrumental and, sometimes, vocal sounds that flows in a constant stream of transformations. These timbral ‘shadows’ are complemented with mirroring of the harp using a variety of synthezeised string sounds. There is however also another kind of musical shadow present: a short melodic fragment from Herbert Stothart’s (1885-1949) filmscore of Queen Christina (1933) — a film by Rouben Mamoulian (1897-1987) with Greta Garbo (1905-1990) — can be heard in a slightly distorted mirror-image of the harp in the middle section of the piece (5:10-5:18 and 7:18-7:26). In fact the whole melodic development of the harp part has been to a large extent derived from this melodic theme.

The poetic vision of the piece is an image of an old dying actress, drawn into a last flowing sequence of dance through the shadows of her past, while death slowly appears as her partner in the last pas de deux.

Strings & Shadows was realized in 1993 at the composer’s studio and premiered on September 22nd, 1994 at the Stockholm Electronic Music Festival. It was commissioned by Nordiska Musikkommittén (NOMUS) for harpist Sofia Asunción Claro. Strings & Shadows received a Distinction at the Prix Ars Electronica (Linz, Austria, 1994). Strings & Shadows was first recorded by Sofia Asunción Claro for the 1996 Centaur CD Music for Harp and Tape (CRC 2284); the recording was realized by Klaus Pedersen from November 27th to December 2nd, 1994 and January 16th to 20, 1995 in the studio of the Dansk Institut for Elektronisk Musik (DIEM) in Aarhus (Denmark) and mixed at the composer’s studio.



  • September 22, 1994, Sofia Asunción Claro, harp • The Stockholm Electronic Music Festival: Harp & Winners, Studio 2 — Radiohuset, Stockholm (Sweden)