Like I said, awesome.
Back to the picture. I couldn’t get one at the recital, and in retrospect it’s a good thing I didn’t surreptitiously snap one with my cell phone. I wrote Harrison about the device and asked if he would provide a small image to accompany my post on Spoleto Buzz. Requests like this happen all the time behind the media scene and I had no reason to think Harrison wouldn’t comply (I expected a jpeg taken with his phone).
But Harrison couldn’t because he made a promise.
While Harrison is up front with audiences about why and how he invented a novel system of tonality — he calls it “just-intonation” — his teacher, La Monte Young, wasn’t so open-minded. Young was evidently guarded about who should know about his alternate tuning system and why. He invented the original forms of those silver comb-like things, and entrusting Harrison, asked that he never reveal how they were made.
Which means he share pictures of them, and certainly not with the media. Which is understandable, I think, however strange it might appear to be. Here’s how Harrison explained it:
Thank you for your review of Revelation. I am happy to hear that you have taken such an interest in the custom device that I use as an integral part of performing the work.
As your friend Ron Wiltrout noted in his separate posting, I am usually extremely forthcoming about the nature of my work and even the specifications of my tuning system. However, the original form of the device that I use was invented by my mentor La Monte Young, and upon entrusting me to use it, he specifically requested that I keep the technique absolutely confidential.
So I hope that you will understand that under the circumstances I will not be able to email you a photo. Nonetheless I greatly appreciate your support and enthusiasm about the work. With all best regards, Michael