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Composer’s notes: March 2009

‘Inertia’ started out as an experimental idea

to combine Clàrsach (Celtic Harp), Marimba

and Electronics, to develop a genre within

music technology. I had always been

interested in Electro-acoustic music but had

never created an opportunity to make it happen

for myself. What had started out as only an

idea of grandeur then became reality in

September ’08 when I met Ross Garrod,

a percussionist at the RNCM, also studying in my year.

We set about to investigate the combination of Clàrsach and Marimba and found that writing for each instrument was very similar. By studying marimba writing I incorporated typical Marimba patterns into my music while also staying true to the texture of the Clàrsach. Many times during rehearsal we swapped parts and found that a particular phrase worked better on our own instruments which turned us upside down with amazement.

The ‘technology’ writing had me blocked for many months. Insecurity with software knowledge slowed me down and often inhibited me but perseverance paid off when the ‘Slow Air’ was successfully molded into a beautiful passage - a dialogue between three unsuspecting instruments creating an ambience for the instrumental relations throughout the piece.

The following ‘Jig’ and ‘Reel’ had been developed acoustically very successfully so I felt that the continuation of the CD part would not celebrate the union of the three instruments but would unintentionally interfere with the exciting new relationship between the Clàrsach and Marimba.

The process of writing ‘Inertia’ was longer than I had initially anticipated, as I was starting from scratch with an ensemble of new instrumentation, but it certainly was not a tedious project. We had hours of fun and built a strong instrumental relationship together. As a result ‘Inertia’ has become a very personal piece which has embraced our personalities and this has made it very rewarding for us both.

‘Inertia’ was premièred at the Colin Currie Masterclass on the 3rd March 2009 at The Royal Northern College of Music.


Playing for HRH Prince Charles in Thurso on the 15th October 2010, wearing a ‘Creations’ bodice made my Yvonne Macrae and Sheila Fleet ‘Pebble’ necklet.

Màiri is the winner of The Clarsach Society’s “Young Composer 2010” with her solo Clarsach piece ‘Prayer’ which was premiered at the Edinburgh International Harp Festival, 13th April 2011.

A BUDDING harpist has hit the high notes after winning the Clarsach Society's Young Composer contest.

Mairi Macleod's ten-minute piece Prayer topped the competition for original compositions for solo clarsach (lever harp) and up to three other instruments.

She said: "My writing is very focused on emotion and current inspirations. Prayer is a piece that started very late at night when a sudden idea came to me during a moment of personal conflict." - Edinburgh Evening News

As a composer Màiri uses her clàrsach as her main source of inspiration. Since 1999 she has been active in writing solo, chamber works and setting words to music. Her first book An Ginealach Ùr (the New Generation) was published in 2001 and contained original compositions inspired by Scotland’s landscape and influential people close to her.

By 2004 she was commissioned to write for the Royal National Mòd. Her task was to compose the music for a poem written by Aonghas MacNeacail (the crowned bard) which had been specifically commissioned that year for his ‘crowning ceremony’. She played and sang the song during the opening ceremony in Perth.

Her most recent projects have included writing for her duo Glèusta with Ross Garrod. The combination of Harp & Marimba became an idea for Màiri in 2008 and by 2009 they were performing original  compositions together at the RNCM and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe where they launched their debut CD.

Màiri’s most exciting commission yet was premiéred at the Royal National Mòd in Caithness last October. She was asked to write a piece to celebrate HRH Prince Charles visiting the Mòd and then performed and presented the music to him during his visit. Listen to it here.

She is also an arranger of traditional scottish and irish music, written in her own unique style. She plans to publish another book of her compositions and arrangements later this year. Recently she was asked to arrange pieces for a new compilation of harp music released in April this year. Compiled by Ailie Robertson, The Scottish Harp Anthology in three volumes is structured by level of ability (elementary, intermediate & advanced) and includes compositions and arrangements by 20 scottish harpists.

The melody line of HRH Prince Charles’ commission

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