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This project was conceived for social media when musicians first started using Instagram (and the videos could only be 15 seconds long). You can find 15 second harp on the social media links above. I am gradually adding all videos below.
Videos are organised by each composers' country/ state and by different harp techniques so you can find useful videos that might help with your own harp writing.
15 seconds by Kenneth Pasewark
by Kenneth Pasewark (from Southern California 🇺🇸) Thank you Kenneth for sending me this extract from a work in progress for wind ensemble. I thought it was beautiful and worked really well for harp. I was able to alternate easily with the D pedal between flat and natural positions. I’m guessing you used a C# in the final chord to make the harmonics closer together. Good idea, however, you could hear the C strings change from natural to sharp and the D strings sounded less obvious so I played a Dflat at the end instead. A fifth is the biggest stretch possible for double harmonics in the left hand. The five note chord towards the end took longer than the rest as harpists only use four fingers so I had to turn under with my hand to play the fifth note. But if you are happy for that to happen, then keep as written. I thought I should share what you said in your email about this snippet: “It is about how no matter where we are, home is a feeling, not a place. Whether it be a four walls, the open air outside, or a tight hug with a heartbeat. “ 🏠 💓
15 seconds by Arianna
by Arianna (age 6) Thank you so much Arianna for composing for the first time for my 15 second harp project. Arianna’s teacher Paul Zaba @zzzzaba showed her my videos the other day and she was supposedly fascinated. Paul said, “My only worry is that she'll lose interest in the piano and become a harpist, haha! “ Take up the harp Arianna and keep up the great composing!! ✍️🎶🌷 I have added in red the pedal chart I set at the start (all naturals as the first F played is natural not sharp) and I circled the Bb as I played an A# there instead so that the pedals I had to move were on opposite sides of the harp.
15 seconds by Nadia Bedwell
by Nadia Bedwell This was a lovely miniature that worked really well for harp. Thanks so much for writing and sending it to me Nadia. Nadia is another of student at @rncmlive studying with @joshbrowncomposer. Some thoughts on supporting female composers as yesterday was International Women’s Day: this project has been the ultimate proof of a problem that will hopefully one day not exist. We have so few female composers writing professionally and as a hobby. Of the first 40 people to send me 15 seconds, only 4 were from women. I would estimate I have had around 50 submissions from women versus 500 from men. I am in the middle of collating all the data at the moment (including countries) and I hope to share it with you by the end of the week. The majority of submissions by female composers have been from young women studying music, often still at school. There is clearly a drop in confidence when school finishes/ late teens. I went to uni thinking I wanted composition to be a main part of my degree, and then when I got there I thought I had nothing to say so stopped. Girls, don’t stop writing. Send in your work even if you don’t think it’s any good, because there will be good stuff in it. And the only way to get even better is to put yourself out there. Have the confidence in your music that the boys do (the young and old ones). 👊🏻💋
15 seconds by by Candra Bangun Setyawan
by Candra Bangun Setyawan (from Indonesia 🇮🇩) Thank you @candra.b.setyawan for sending me this miniature. I enjoyed working out the rhythms even though I know I rushed the first bar. The only thing that didn’t quite work was the tremolo line on the last quaver of the first bar as there wasn’t enough time. Tremolos are possible on single notes as we can use two strings to make the same pitch, however composers should always remember that we can not use two strings to make D, G or A naturals. Thank you for writing this Candra. It’s also great to remember at least we still have the internet to connect people from around the world in this uncertain time! 🌍 🎶
15 seconds by Galih Setiawan
by Galih Setiawan (Indonesia 🇮🇩) Thank you Galih @galihsx for this soothing tune written originally for a friend’s short film. This calming music felt much needed today as musicians around the world are trying to come to terms with months of cancelled work, not knowing when their next concert might be. I’m starting a practice group for anyone who wants some extra motivation with their goals over the coming weeks... I know I’m going to need it! Much love to musicians in Indonesia and all around the world. 💓🌍🎶
15 seconds by Samuel Wilson
by Samuel Wilson (U.K. 🇬🇧) Thank you so much Samuel Wilson for this beaut 15 seconds. I think it’s one of my faves ever actually: love the harmonies, top pedalling too. My advice to composers is to always get in to the habit of writing pedals in as then at least you know what you’ve written is all physically possible on the harp. If anyone has any specific requests for the kind of videos I can make to help with composing for harp, please send me a message. Hope to be able to provide some useful corona-time content 😊
15 seconds by Shaily
by Shaily R. (age 10) My student Shaily wrote this fab 15 seconds called “Tree Climb” this week whilst home in isolation. I think it would make a great exercise to introduce playing the thumb on the harp. Great use of dynamics too Shaily! If you have moved your teaching online, why not ask your students to write 15 seconds?! I’m trying to look on the positive side of life right now and am looking forward to seeing and hearing all the creativity that comes out of this strange time.
15 seconds by Jerry Blumire/ Vaughan Williams
This is an extract from a piece Jerry is currently writing for Samantha Rose @roseraphina called “Fantasy Mode”. The main tune (“The Turtle Dove”) was supposedly written down by Vaughan Williams after he overheard it in a pub in Rusper ( near Crawley!). Jerry said his main aim in this piece is to emphasise the Harp’s sonority hence the choice of C flat Major. Pedal harps’ natural state is C flat Major - we lower the pedals to create other pitches. It was great having this tune in the left hand - my left hand gets lazy at phrasing and there are lovely harmonies throughout. I look forward to seeing the finished piece! I encourage you all to check out Jerry’s beautiful art @Jerry Blumire Harpart on the harps he paints for Pilgrim Harps . Hope everyone’s able to enjoy (a regulated portion of) this Spring day ☀️ 🌷
15 seconds by Enoc Hsu
by Enoc Hsu @enochsu_ (from Hong Kong 🇭🇰 ) Thank you Enoc for sending this exercise you wrote for your harp students! It’s very satisfying to play and has made me want to learn a classical Sonata this week in isolation. Sorry I wasn’t patient enough to get rid of the little buzz at the bottom of the left hand scale - the perils of replacing a finger quickly onto the same string! Wishing you and your fellow musicians in Hong Kong all best wishes and good health 😘
15 seconds by Nick Stephens
“This short piece is an excerpt from a song from a musical I'm working on entitled Darling Jack. It's a Peter Pan meets Jack the Ripper fever dream, and this is a plaintive from Wendy as she stares out over London and misses her mother. The isolation of the piece is something I've been thinking of lately (for obvious reasons.)” Thanks for finding my page Nick and really glad you’ve found it useful 😊 I thought I would include my markings to show how I jumped up with my left hand for most of it. Was a bit tricky, so sorry for it not being a perfect take. Also experimented with a new angle instead of my normal phone-on-music-stand camera view... Your musical concept sounds brilliant! Would love to be kept in the loop about it 😊 🧚 🔪
15 seconds by Salvatore Garnero
by Salvatore Garnero @salvatorepadula91 (from Genoa 🇮🇹) Thank you Salvatore for this beautiful music and message you sent me yesterday on Easter morning: “Recently I've had this short melody constantly on my mind, so I've decided to put it down and dedicated to you for all the musical support you give to us, all composers around the world. This melody makes me remember Christ's resurrection, when everybody where overwhelmed by the missing body of the Lord, or the fear people felt when they saw an angel. The words of the celestial being sent by the Lord were: "Don't be afraid". The entire world is passing through a terrible moment, and everywhere reign fear, sadness and pain. Your harp, nontheless, communicates the same message of the angels for us all: "Don't be afraid".” I was extremely touched by your email, and although I don’t feel like I can communicate those things myself, if you feel like the harp can that is wonderful to hear. Sending love to everyone in Italy and around the world of all faiths. 💝
15 seconds by Henry Church
by Henry Church (in San Antonio, Texas 🇺🇸) @shouldberonnie Henry sent me another snippet back in 2016 just before I received 100 15 seconds. Henry wrote to say he is still writing and is now working on music for a film he’s creating about Robin Hood. He also said that this melody was “inspired by waking up from a fantastic dream and then forget it almost instantly when you awake”. I thought I’d try recording this one with my new fish-eye lens to add to the dream-like quality (bought thanks to my film gurus @ultrasharp.films 🙌🏼). Thanks for sending Henry. Great to hear from composers who sent music to me when the project first started 😊
15 seconds by Urbi M.
by Urbi M (GCSE student 🇬🇧) A couple of months ago Urbi sent me her harp part to look through after she found 15 second harp through a BBC Young Composers workshop I gave with @hermesexperiment (thank you @annedenholm_harp for asking me to dep for you). Urbi asked that I didn’t post anything until the piece had been marked. Well what a strange time it is now for all GCSE students! The internal marks are now back so I’m able to post this. Well done for taking the initiative to get harp writing advice Urbi, and fingers crossed for all your future marks that will be coming over the next couple of months. Oh and of course, keep up the great composing!!
15 seconds by Aileen Sweeney
A bumper edition of 15 second harp with 4 extracts sent in by Aileen Sweeney! (Have posted all 4 on Instagram but Facebook will only allows 1 at a time) Extract 1: Aileen asked how fast this could be played as written and that she was hoping for a shimmering effect. This is a very good question! I have played 3 options here and written in what I’m playing. I think the second option sounds clearest: playing the bisbigliandi in ascending note order. I know that a more jumbled note effect is probably wanted but the fastest option is always in note order. Harpists, I would love your opinion on this.
15 seconds by Samuel William Novak
by Samuel William Novak @samuelwnovak (from Minnesota 🇺🇸) Thank you Samuel for “throwing your hat into the 15 second ring”. This is such a great miniature. Perfectly timed, it created sonority in the instrument straight away with the low octave. Great attention to detail with the dynamics and performance directions. “Tenebrous” gets my vote for my new favourite musical adjective (it means dark and shadowy). A recurring theme when performers give workshops is to tell composers to give as much information and as many details as possible. A much heard quip back to that is that the composer wants the performer to decide for themselves. I’m firmly in camp-more-details-please, otherwise it ends up feeling like the performer is doing the composing work themselves. Which camp are you in composers/ performers? 10/10 for this one Samuel. Also, check out Samuel’s counterpoint exercises from Johann Joseph Fux’s “The Study of Counterpoint” here: @samuelwnovak .
15 seconds by Dahyun
by Dahyun (from Malaysia 🇲🇾) I was recently sent lots of compositions from year 9 students at the @kingsley_international_school in Malaysia. Here is the first one that fit the 15 second brief very well. I actually ended up thinking of this one as 3 in a bar instead of 4. The first note would therefore come of the 2nd beat. If you would rather the feel of 3 time across the 4/4 bar then you could exaggerate that with some accents to create a more disjointed feel Dahyun. If you like the way I play it though then I would just change the time signature to 3/4 😊 Thank you to teacher Wan Azlan @azlanrasdi for setting your students the 15 second harp challenge!
15 seconds by Ryenne Flood
by Ryenne Flood (from Virginia 🇺🇸) A great new miniature from 15 year old high school composer Ryenne! You said it was inspired by your favourite piece Mystic Dance. I’m just on YouTube now and wondering if it is the piece by Michael Sweeney for wind band?! Keep up the great work Ryenne 😊
15 seconds by Mark Shilov
by Mark Shilov (from Moscow 🇷🇺) Thank you @jrshil for this miniature. I got really behind with my 15 second recordings when my phone broke but I will be posting a lot of them over the next couple of weeks. Mark’s “Memory” worked very well for harp. I would write the whole thing in 4/4 Mark and double the rhythm in the first two bars (see red pen) instead of changing the metronome mark. The rest of my red pen is to show my pedal changes, which do all work. I found that the G natural to G sharp was too noisy in bar 4 so it worked better playing A flats there (see circled notes). The symbol in bar 3 is to damp the left hand, which was necessary before I came up with the pedal plan; thought it would be useful to keep in to show how we normally notate that. All the rest worked really well. The final note was just one note too high for the harp though: our highest note is 4 Gs above middle C. Thank you for writing and sending Mark! 😊
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