May Rain (1941)

  • Lou Harrison
  • Elsa Gidlow


This enchanting piece by one of the senior figures of American music forms an ideal introduction for a newcomer to a more experimental idiom without posing any musical problems. The piano is prepared by inserting a screw between two of the three strings attached to each of six specified pitches to produce ‘harmonics and a gong-like resonance’. (Veterans of contemporary music concerts will know that this means that the piano cannot be a hired Steinway, since they adhere very strictly to their policy of not allowing anyone else to tamper with the inside of their instruments. No harm is done, however, and it is worth taking the trouble to book a different piano if necessary.) The pianist plays an extremely simple part with one hand only, so that the other can be employed to strike (seven times at comfortable intervals) a deep-pitched tam-tam. Alternatively the singer could do this, or, as in some rare cases, a percussion player may already be available for the concert.


Vocal Repertory Simple Part General Music Tone Quality American Music 
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Copyright information

© Jane Manning 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lou Harrison
  • Elsa Gidlow

There are no affiliations available

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