This Friday: Nyckelharpa & Scottish harp concert at Chief O’Neill’s in Chicago

Friday, September 7th:
Olov Johansson & Catriona McKay
Chief O’Neill’s 3471 N. Elston, Chicago IL 60618, 773-583-3066
8pm show
$20 admission at the door.
Facebook events page

Ceolwind Productions presents: The traditional music of Scotland and Sweden, woven together by these two highly acclaimed and talented musicians: Olov Johansson and Catriona McKay – Swedish Nyckelharpa & Scottish Harp
Both traditional as well as newly composed music from Scotland and Sweden, performed beautifully in this new unique harp-duo by these awarded harpers. Catriona was appointed “Instrumentalist of the year” at “Scots Trad Music Awards 2007” Olov became “World champion in Nyckelharpa” in Österbybruk 1990. Olov is also a founding member in the Swedish folk band “Väsen”.
Come catch this one-of-a-kind performance: the very first stop on their tour of the states together!

This is a Ceolwind Productions concert. For more info on the artists and the event please email:

Come early and enjoy the wonderful food! For dinner reservations and to reserve your seat at the concert, please call Chief O’Neill’s at 773-583-3066.

Olov Johansson and Catriona McKay’s Myspace Page
Olov Johansson’s Site

Arpa Peruana

Back from vacation in B.C.  July is turning out to be a busy month for weddings and the like, so for now we’ve got a couple more videos, all the way from Peru!   Considering the harp is one of the oldest instruments in human history, it’s not surprising that nearly every culture has developed its own unique style of harp and harp playing.  Still, it never ceases to amaze me how different each type of harp, and its corresponding technique, can be from each other, and just how much variety there is in the harp world. 

The first one features harpist Otoniel Ccayanchira playing Peruvian Andian music, as well as some traditional dancers. Courtesy of FolkPeru21

The next one features a solo harp piece performed by Florencio Coronado,  followed by a Peruvian folk band and singer (Esmila Zevallos).  Good close-ups of the harpist’s hands at the beginning if you want to check out the traditional Peruvian technique a little more closely.

Courtesy of proansa

La Partida on Paraguayan harp

Harpist Mark Hammer playing the Paraguayan harp.   If you want to know more about the harp and the tune he’s playing, he includes a fairly detailed write-up about both here.

Interesting point of trivia: Apparently on Paraguayan harps the C strings are blue, and the F strings are red, the opposite of other harps. Could make things very confusing for us lever harp players!

June Tune of the Month: Early One Morning

This cheerful sounding melody is often referred to by older Canadians as “The Friendly Giant Tune”, for its role on the well-loved kid’s show of yore. While it may sound chipper, the lyrics in fact are far from happy: “Early one morning, just as the sun was rising, I saw a fair maid singing in the valley below: “Oh, don’t deceive me, oh never leave me; How could you use a poor maiden so?”

Early One Morning

The HarpBlog Tune of the Month is courtesy of Chubby Sparrow Music . For a printable version, right click on the picture and choose “save target as”, or pop over to the Chubby Sparrow Free Music page for more detailed printing instructions (note: if you just left click and try to print directly from the browser, it probably won’t print at the right size).

A Short List of Pentatonic Tunes

An inquiry from a visitor to the Celtic Harp Page reminded me that I never did re-post the list of pentatonic tunes I had up a while ago, so I thought I’d rectify that here. If you can think of any other well-known pentatonic tunes to add to the list feel free to note them in comments. A pentatonic scale is just as it sounds, a scale made up of five notes (as opposed to the 7 notes used by major and minor scales and the classic modes). For example, an example of a major scale would be CDEFGABC, while an example of a pentatonic scale would be CDFGAC. Playing the black keys on a piano will also give you a pentatonic scale. Here is a short list of some well-known pentatonic tunes:

A la claire fontaine (French Canadian )
Amazing Grace
Auld Lang Syne (Scottish)
Derby ram, The
En roulant ma boule, roulant
Git along little dogies (trad cowboy)
Go tell it on the mountain
How Can I Keep From Singing
Il etait un’ bergere (French)
Land of the silver birch (Canadian)
Loch Lomond
Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen (spiritual)
“Old Chinese Song” by Marcel Grandjany (based on Chinese trad. tune)
Old gray mare, The
Sakura (Cherry Blooms, Japanese)
Skye Boat Song
Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
The Cherry Tree Carol
They Stole My Wife Last Night (Scottish pipe tune)
Wha wadna fight for Charlie?
Wayfaring Stranger
Ye Banks and Braes

…. plus numerous other spirituals, Scottish pipe tunes, Japanese and Chinese songs, etc.