The Steel Suite was begun in 2003 and was originally intended for the National Resophonic Just Intonation Guitar, a steel-bodied acoustic guitar with a special fretboard designed to play a just tuning devised by Lou Harrison and Bill Slye and used in Lou’s composition Scenes from Nek Chand, the last work he completed before his death in 2003. The pieces were begun at the behest of Los Angeles-based guitarist John Schneider, who owns one of the two copies of this instrument currently in use for public performance. The suite, like much of my work, is derived from early music and world music sources. Two of the movements, the Prelude and Gigue, were performed by Schneider in 2005, at the Los Angeles Microfest, the Just Intonation Network Twentieth Anniversary Series in San Francisco, and the Guitarra California Festival in San Luis Obispo.
Wishing to obtain more performances than are likely with an instrument of which only two copies exist, I began in 2006 to make keyboard arrangements of the pieces. My instruments of choice for these are harpsichord, tack piano (in homage to Lou Harrison), or programmable synthesizer. In 2007, I contacted a number of Bay Area harpsichordists about the possibility of working on the suite. One of these, Jonathan Salzedo of the Albany Consort, expressed an interest in working with me. After much struggle with our respective schedules, Jonathan learned the suite and performed it as part of a house concert at my home in Northern California in July 2008. The suite was subsequently recorded by Robert Rich in the performance space of the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA) at Stanford. The recording was funded by a Subito Grant from the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of the American Composers Forum.