Sounding Harps Books

For anyone who has been looking for the Sounding Harps series of books from Cairde na Cruite (I’ve personally recommended them to several of my students, who’ve had difficulty tracking them down), all four of them are now available through both Melody’s Traditional Music and Sylvia Woods.

More specifically (since trying to find them through the search functions can be a pain), you can get to them on the Melody’s site here and on Sylvia Wood’s site here.

If you want to shop locally and save on shipping and customs, you could also try taking down the pertinent info from the websites and ordering them through your local music store.

There are four books in total, and they’re all excellent collections of Celtic Music. Many of the arrangements will fit on smaller harps (esp. those in Vol. 1), and Volumes One & Four have arrangements suitable for beginners through early intermediate. For more advanced players, the arrangements in Books Two & Three are intermediate to advanced. Even the easy arrangements are put together very nicely, so the tunes sound great.

Hope everyone had a good November, and that you’ve all been keeping your hands and harps warm despite the snow and wind.

Speaking of trolleys and carts…

Both my gigs this past weekend were made about a thousand times easier thanks to my trusty trolley, so I thought I’d give it a little plug here. I don’t normally promote a particular product or company, but I figure there’s no harm in describing the things I use regularly that have served me well. No doubt there are other companies that make similar carts.

The one I use is the “Kart-a-Bag” folk harp cart, which I got through Sylvia Woods. You can find out more about it here. I picked mine up at the Somerset harp conference several years ago, so I didn’t have to pay for shipping to Canada (which would have probably been dreadful, especially when you add in customs). However, even if I had to pay shipping, it’s definitely worth it. It just perfectly fits my 34-string Gerhard Wanney harp in its case; the bungee cords that come attached to it just barely stretch far enough, so if you have a bigger harp you might need extensions. However, although they’re just long enough, due to the shape of the harp there’s still a fair bit of give, so I can slip in a few extra things like a folding chair, a little battery-powered amp, and/or book bag and a water bottle snugged up next to the harp. It can apparently handle up to a 300 lb load, but I’ve never come close to that.

Things I like about it:

It collapses down to a managable shape and size, and even comes with a carry bag (although the wheels on mine are usually so dirty that I tend to leave it out of its case most of the time).

It is really easy to set up (once you’ve practiced a couple of times), and even easier to collapse again. You can do a lot of the functions one-handed if absolutely necessary.

It handles off-road terrain with surprising ease. Most of the time I’ve needed to lug my harp the equivalent of a couple city blocks, it’s been down a dirt road (e.g. at the local pioneer village), through a park complete with mud (this past weekend’s folk festival), or up and down grassy or pebbly slopes (some of the resorts I play at).

Even when pushing one-handed, it’s relatively easy to control, even at a brisk walking pace. This is very important when trying to wend your way through unruly crowds of festival goers who will completely ignore you and your heavy burden, no matter what you might think about the love-the-earth granola types being kinder and gentler. I suspect they’re just distracted by all the lovely, interesting, colourful things going on around them; being one of that sort myself this is no means meant as a slur against…. oooh, look, shiny! I’ll be right back…

Ahem. Okay, back on topic. If you do a lot of regular gigging, or if you think you might ever be called upon to play somewhere without car access (which happens far, far more often than you might think), get a trolley/cart /dolly – whatever you want to call it. It might just save your life (or at least, your shoulders and your sanity).