WRITING FOR THE HARP
No need to be scared about writing for the harp. On the page harp music looks very similar to piano music, however, it is important that you are aware of the differences. By the end of this project I hope to have made a comprehensive how-to-guide, which will grow as we explore different techniques.
Below is a simple guide through the main areas:
Please note I play a full-size 47 string pedal harp. Nearly all music for lever harp will work too though so do please send it. However, some of the information below will need to be adjusted accordingly.
Spread chords: one note played after the other
Conventionally we spread with the top note arriving on the beat. Indicate if you want the spread to start on the beat.
The harp is great at producing rich and resonant chords.
Important things to remember:
We only play with 4 fingers in each hand (no little fingers). Chords with more than 8 notes (4 in each hand) are fine but will involve the left hand jumping over the right. This is not difficult unless required at a fast speed. These large chords will always be played spread.
A manageable hand stretch is to the interval of a 10th
N.B. Lowest C and D are not controlled by pedals. Therefore, their tuning must be fixed before playing. Also, some harps require pre-tuning of the highest G as not all harps can adjust this note with the pedals.
Essentially all the strings are the white notes on the piano.
Red strings are C, black strings are F.
The strings are mainly made from gut, with the lowest strings made from wire (starting from the second G below middle C).
Harps are famous for glissandi!
Set the pedals and we can drag our fingers over the strings to essentially play a very fast scale. Glissandi can go up or down and the opposite video shows a normal glissando, then a double and finally a triple (usually played with two hands).
N.B. The bigger the interval between the notes of a double glissandi the harder the harder it will become to keep the spacing.