Harpo Marx performing Guardian Angels (a piece he wrote) in 1945, from the movie War Bond Drive. The sound is a bit muddy, but still worth it for the rare chance to hear Harpo playing something he composed himself.
One of the most frequently asked questions on the Celtic Harp Page is what makes for a good beginner harp. First-time players are often baffled by the abundance of choice, and usually hampered by a limited budget. They want a harp that is inexpensive, but still has a nice sound and a decent range.
With that in mind, I’ve outlined a few basic things that will help when looking for a beginner harp.
For more on all the different types and styles of harp available to choose from, you can browse the “What Type of Harp Should I Get?” section on the CHP.
For anyone who, like me, was still going through the old Hobgoblin site to get to the Stoney End Harps section, they have their own website now, all new and spiffed up, which should make browsing and the like easier:
Update: The links on the Celtic Harp Page are now up-to-date; we have also begun the process of revising the list of sample harp costs in the “What Harp Should I Get?” section of the FAQ, to reflect 2011 pricing.
Calling all Ontario harp players!
I’ve expanded our Peterborough-Kawarthas Facebook page to include all of Ontario, since there didn’t seem to be another spot like it on FB. Everyone is welcome to drop by and post upcoming events, harp tips &etc. or just say hi. The name was so obvious that I’m sure someone else has thought of it before me, but I just couldn’t resist.
Here’s a condensed link (since links to FB pages are impossibly long):
Hope to see you over there!
More on the Southeastern Harp Weekend, which will be taking place this October (2011). Thanks to Carolyn Deal for the udpates.
Southeastern Harp Weekend October 7-8-9, Asheville, NC.
A mountain retreat weekend of world-class workshops and concerts, plus a huge and varied vendor hall! This year’s clinicians include Cheryl Ann Fulton, Maeve Gilchrist, Frank Voltz, Joanna Mell, Mary Radspinner, Christina Tourin, Jan Jennings, Rhett Barnwell, Jerry Brown, Sharon Thormahlen, Nancy Clark, Analee Foster, Dee Sweeny, and more.
Topics include Welsh Aires, Scottish harp, speed playing, conquering harmonics, conquering Irish trebles, hymn arranging, therapeutic music, classical music, overcoming fears, NLP and memorizing music, the Astral Harp Experience, chord recognition, Pop music, medieval modes, injury prevention, touch for tone, Taize, exercises for beginners, improvisation, keeping up with the tempo, sight-reading, fun innovations for beginners, celtic tunes to love, harp roundabouts for technique, left hand heaven, French technique, tunes for the seasons, the liquid lever, jazz, rhythm, advanced classes with Maeve Gilchrist and more for all levels. Most comprehensive lever harp vendor halls in the Southeast!
From The Raw Story:
NEW YORK — Few instruments can be gentler than the harp, but authorities in New York’s Central Park have branded street musicians like harpist Meta Epstein a public disturbance and want them driven out.
A new campaign to enforce eight “quiet zones,” including in some of the city’s most hallowed spots for street performers, is turning virtuosos like Epstein into outlaws.
After years of being left in peace to perform her baroque repertoire on the beautiful, golden instrument, Epstein, 59, says she’s suddenly being treated as a menace.
This is the first of a new series of Harp-Related Q&A , to celebrate the Harp Blog being back in action (hooray!), and in honour of the first Peterborough-Kawarthas harp circle in over a year (!).
A sample of a tune arranged for multiple harps can be found by following the link at the bottom of the post.
A Harp Circle is an informal gathering of harpists (or harpers, if you prefer), which can take many forms. The one thing they all have in common is the sharing of music. A typical harp circle might start with a general meet-and-greet (which often involves people trying out each other’s harps), and everyone making sure their harps are tuned. Bringing an electronic tuner is wise for this part, since there will be a lot of background noise (this is where tuning pickups really earn their keep!), and everyone will want to be at the same pitch (A=440, or concert pitch, is standard in most areas).
This is often followed by learning one or more group pieces. Usually the group leader or organizer will have copies available for everyone, with parts at varying levels of difficulty (easy parts for beginners, more challenging parts for the more experienced).
Sometimes this group participation might take the form of a more formalized workshop, with a specific topic, such as singing with the harp, Welsh tunes, improvising, Irish ornaments, and so on. However, in some cases it can be as casual as someone handing around some sheet music and saying, let’s all try this one! Either way, the group organizer will let you know what format the circle will take.
At the mid-point will be a welcome break for munchies and socializing (participants are often encouraged to bring contributions of snacks, although sometimes these are provided by the host).
After the break, there may be more group playing, or the second half of the workshop, but often this is the stage for the “once-around-the-circle”, where people are free to play a piece of their choosing. This can be a great opportunity for shy and inexperienced players to try something out in public for the first time, in front of a small and sympathetic audience. It can also be a chance for more experienced players to try out something new, or play their latest “party piece” – essentially, show off their playing prowess. It certainly never hurts to get a healthy boost to the old self esteem, in the comforting company of peers! However, all players will be encouraged to pick something relatively short, so everyone who wants to has a chance to play.
The performance part, in almost all cases, is strictly voluntary. The idea of harp circles is to have fun, in a relaxed, no-pressure environment. Players can feel free to participate as much or as little as they like. For the complete beginner, sometimes it’s great to just be able to meet other harpers and see different harps, even if you’re a bit too shy to try playing along the first time.
In honour of our first harp circle of 2011, I’ve whipped up an arrangement of Southwind for multiple harps. You can follow the link here to download both a print copy and midi file version from Chubby Sparrow. Feel free to add your comments or questions below.
Harp, flute and cello sighting! Not sure I could convince my trio to do something like this though (then again, I almost have enough antique tea cups to pull it off)…
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