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catmandu2
Jan-31-2012, 12:51pm
My apologies to Scott et al. if this is too off-piste ... any other harpers on board here? (Although, these things are never completely without mandolin referent...as we play these tunes on our mandos too :redface:)

For the past couple of decades I've been increasingly compelled by harp ... not wishing to take on yet another instrument (also, I've kept classical guitar nails since the age of 16), I've assuaged this yearning by playing hammered dulcimer (as well as harp tunes on many of the other instruments I play). But the sound of the harp is the sound in my head...emulating it with other instruments is like scratching an itch halfway. And so I finally relented and purchased a harp. Eventually, I wish to obtain a wire-strung, but as these are difficult to acquire on my budget (I'd also like a hardanger fiddle, etc.), tis the lap harp for me now.

Funny, I'd been learning my hammered dulcimer repertoire (harp tunes) on fiddle, flute and box...as my intention was to not slag my HD around. However I recently began playing HD again as the sound is inescapable for me. Sometimes, I guess pursuit of "the sound" makes us do irrational things..

JeffD
Jan-31-2012, 1:05pm
I played a couple of Irish Sessions with a harpist. The sound was wonderful.

I would think harp and hammered dulcimer thinking would aid and abet each other, because its that whole one string one note thing.

JeffD
Jan-31-2012, 1:05pm
double post ??

Randi Gormley
Jan-31-2012, 1:57pm
My youngest daughter is a harpist, of a sort. She started at 16 (birthday gift) and is now taking harp at college. She just told us her current project is "Stairway to Heaven." We normally rent a full-sized harp when she's home. The Harp Connection will rent you a harp, by the way, if you're interested, at least that's who we used. No idea if they're available out your way, but they may have more localized information.
And we have a harpist come occasionally to our Monday band practice. She has a small harp that sits on the floor, bigger than a lap harp.
Lovely instruments. They're harder to keep in tune than a mandolin, though. Just as a warning.

catmandu2
Jan-31-2012, 2:03pm
One of the reasons I don't play out with hammered dulcimer is because of the tuning issues...my HD has 3- and 4-string courses (and weighs ~45 pounds). I tune by ear, so tuning is not a problem, but more than 2-strings per course is too time-consuming when performing. I was contemplating going back to 2-string per course HD for "field work"--but the reason I eschewed all of my smaller HDs is because they lack "the sound." So, I finally bit the bullet and purchased the harp...much easier to manage, while possessing the sound

But I think I have other reasons for finally getting into harp, too--I'm always looking to expose my kids to musical pedagogy, and the harp is good for this. With all the accordians, melodeons and concertinas I have around here I always thought the kids would get into that...but their hands are too small.

terzinator
Jan-31-2012, 2:49pm
ah, I thought you meant harmonica.

Carry on. (And if you carry a harp, I'd suggest wearing some kind of truss.)

yankees1
Jan-31-2012, 2:51pm
Do they sell a blue chip pick for it? :)

mandroid
Jan-31-2012, 2:52pm
the other Lyon and Healy product .. Orchestral Harps .. do the sharps for key changes , with foot pedals..
nope, not me..

catmandu2
Jan-31-2012, 3:03pm
the other Lyon and Healy product .. Orchestral Harps .. do the sharps for key changes , with foot pedals..
nope, not me..

(I like my ca. 1900 L&H banjos ;))

Well if you like bending pitches with your feet and knees...there's pedal steel too (gave that up LONG ago)...of all the stuff I've tried, harp was the one I've missed as I didn't want to lose my nails...I really like resonant zither-type instruments, from kantele, bandurria, psaltry, the dulcimers...I've been close to getting into the Asian koto-style ones too (btw, if anyone's interested Bernunzio's has a good price on a used dan tranh, nfi)

Tim2723
Jan-31-2012, 4:04pm
I bought and then quickly disposed of a 'Celtic' lap harp. I was OK with fretted instruments; once you have the basic guitar chords you can manage the ukulele, and the mandolin transfers well to tenor banjo, et. al., but the harp used no pre-existing skills at all. It was totally alien from anything else. I just couldn't get my head around it. That, and like the Hammered dulcimer and bowed psaltery, there's just too many strings to make it gig friendly.

catmandu2
Jan-31-2012, 4:19pm
... there's just too many strings to make it gig friendly.

Indeed...I'm one who usually goes for efficiency and mostly use banjos and accordians for performing...so I don't have to lug an amp. This is about sound, though...just can't escape it. As a nylon-string guitarist, there is some feel sharing, although as you say it is weird not having the same tactile references as with strings with necks..

multidon
Jan-31-2012, 5:02pm
Yes, I am a harper. My avatar "multidon" refers to the fact that I am a multi-instrumentalist. In my group the Pic-a-Longs I play mandolin, fiddle, hammered dulcimer, and harp. I have only been playing harp a little over a year. I wasn't even thinking about starting harp but I found a Celtic lap harp collecting dust in a local music store. The owner was anxious to get rid of it because it had been around a long time. I got it for his cost-$250! Turns out it is luthier made by a fine maker, Steen Harps, in WV. I have enjoyed playing it immensely. I get complements on the beautiful tone wherever I play it. I also play it solo in the waiting room of an oncology center here. Even mistakes sound good because the tone is just so lovely!

If you are interested in pursuing this I do have some suggestions for you:

1. Harps can be expensive. It is possible to get a Celtic style lap harp for not too much though. Check out the "harpsicle" line and "Noteworthy" County Kerry harps. Good quality that does not cost an arm and a leg. Elderly carries both brands.
2. You need to buy a harp that has sharping levers. Each string that has a sharping lever can be sharped by engaging the lever. Usually most folk music stays in the same key so you set the levers once. If you have no levers you can only play in C major/A minor. It is common to find harps with levers on all the C's and F's. Then you can play in C/G/D major and A/E/B minor, which covers 95 percent of folk music. If you buy one without levers it is difficult and expensive to retrofit them. My harp is fully levered on all strings so I can play in any key.
3. Do not be tempted by the low price on the Pakistani-made harps common on e-Bay. They come in various brand names- Early Music Shop, Roosbeck, and others. They can be identified by being made of "rosewood" and often have "Celtic knot" carvings on them. They are not well regarded in the harp world.
4. Since you are a classical guitarist I will tell you you pluck harp strings with the skin of your fingers, not the nails. Your classical guitar nails might get in the way.
5. When I started I was afraid. I thought it would be difficult. I found out it isn't as difficult as one would imagine. For one thing, I didn't know the C strings were red and the F strings were blue. This helps to orient you and therefore you keep track of what note you are playing.
6. If you find a used harp it will almost certainly need new strings. Strings on a harp are not like other instruments. There is no standard set. Harp strings have to be custom made for each specific model. Most of them come with a "string chart" that tells you the gauges you need for each note. If a used harp comes with one that is a plus. If not there is a company that keeps many on file, Vermont Strings.
7.I highly recommend getting and reading "Teach Yourself to Play the Folk Harp" by Sylvia Woods. Not only does it enable you to do what the title says, it gives you a lot of background and reference information, including how to restring.

That's all I can think of for now. Feel free to PM me if I can be of further assisitance!

Barry Wilson
Jan-31-2012, 5:19pm
I am with terzinator, I was thinking harmonica too. love harmonica. don't mermaids play harps?

jmarshall58
Jan-31-2012, 5:20pm
Have a wire strung harp but haven't played it much lately.

catmandu2
Jan-31-2012, 5:24pm
Thanks Don ... I've got my harp

multidon
Jan-31-2012, 5:35pm
Catmandu- Sorry, I missed that you already have a harp. But maybe my advice will come in handy anyways. If there's such a thing as MAS, maybe there is HAS as well? I love my Steen but it only has 18 strings. I want more strings! What did you get, and how is it going? In addition to the book mentioned above (Sylvia Woods is THE standard) I also found "You Can Teach Yourself Lever Harp" from Mel Bay very useful (is there ANYTHING Mel Bay doesn't have a book for?). I am thrilled to find a fellow harper on MC!

catmandu2
Jan-31-2012, 11:17pm
Just a little 2-1/2 oct folkcraft, G/D levers-- all solid mahogany/spruce ... Don't think Fc is producing harps these dsys ... What I'd like is Jim's wire strung -- Jim wont you tell us about your harp playing

catmandu2
Feb-17-2012, 2:16pm
I could have subtitled this "How to rekindle love for mandolin.."

As a long-time string player (although not starting on strings proper until fiddle in the 90s), there was something about them I tired of, I guess, and didn't find "the sound" in them. To clarify, I love strings and have played flamenco, bach, kottke, jansch, hedges, bensusan, banjos, ukes, uprights, ouds,...kept gravitating toward "exotic" tones and therefore an infatuation with oud (and rebetika, mandolas, et al..)...but finally consumated my longing for the harp...

allowing me to forego my oudness. The harp allows me to hold and caress the strings in my hands...like the doublebass or classical guitar...but better (well, nothing is as corporeal and "better" than doublebass, but that's another thread). I'd gotten to the point where I was playing hammered dulcimer to assuage my need for simple harp music. But my HD (the sound I like in a HD) is heavy, unweildy. I played my harp tunes on mandolin, fiddle, cocnertina, accordians and flute...and I had even started playing some guitar again to assuage my baroque. But nothing satisfies like, a harp..

Well I love harping...it's all that I imagined it to be. But now I pick up my mandolin and it feels exotic...a miniature, elegant voice to complement my lush harp when brevity is desired. This pleases me, as it had been long, long since mandolin captured my imagination and satisfied my tactile needs.

And now that my ear is happy, and I have reopened my heart to strings, I haven't played my horns since acquiring my harp. My horns were needed to assuage my "creative ear," but the harp cuts to the essence, revivifying my love for strings which, as anyone who plays them knows, are well of the heart.

And I love my little high-pitched plectrum instrument again...I had only been playing CBOMs and doublebass to hear that lush low end, and mando only in ensembles, but now I hear it again...as HAL says, "I can feel it..."

harper
Jun-20-2012, 10:10pm
I'm rather late to the party, but I play harp, too. I've played for decades, starting with pedal harp in college and adding lever harp about 10 years ago. I have not only MAS, but HAS, and also BAS (banjo acquisition syndrome). I have arranged and composed waltzes, jigs and reels, some of which can be played with harp and mandolins together. My newest collection is called Simple Pleasures with Friends - Volume 2 (published by Afghan Press).

I have many harps, but my favorite is an Olwen 32 made by Andrew Thom http://www.thomharps.com.au/. The soundboard is Western red cedar reinforced with carbon fiber. The neck, harmonic curve, and column are all one piece of sculpted pine marine ply reinforced with carbon fiber. The soundbox is aluminum monocoque covered on the outside with leather and lined on the inside with some type of paint containing mica crystals. Mine is painted forest green. Acoustically and ergonomically it is spectacular. Here is a Youtube of me playing it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QjjmqptAd5I (my first and only Youtube video).

Catmandu, I seem to recall that you also play the accordion, as I do? Small world. Have you ever seen Gary Larson's wonderful cartoon on harps and accordions? Google "Welcome to heaven... " I imagine heaven also has accordion, mandolins, and banjos.

Just to add some mando content, my favorite mandolin is my 13 inch scale Rigel Q95, though I also love my Howard Morris A style (also 13 inch scale).

Maybe those of us who have posted should start a harp-mando social group?

catmandu2
Jun-20-2012, 11:07pm
Nice to hear harper! I considered going all in for lever harp, but have since decided to wait for wire. My repertoire is carolan tunes, so dont really need a larger harp as the tunes lay well on the smaller instrument--currently doing it on hammered dulcimer, which tides me over til one crosses my path...Im in love with the austere palette and tone of wire clarsach

Conveniently, as i've rekindled my hard core affection for rags and blues and 12-string guitar again, and my fingernails

Perusing the past posts I see I mentioned I'd given up pedal steel long ago -/ but still getti g back into that too as time permits

Sandy Beckler
Jun-20-2012, 11:26pm
are you guys talking about this kinda "harp".... http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CDwQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fhome.comcast.net%2F~kathymatsu### #a%2Fmoreprojects%2Fhtmlpages%2Fhu9.html&ei=3aTiT_SWGcXt0gGF3YmhAw&usg=AFQjCNHLIK2FbmIhcmolPrc9PzB79ve3ag
Kinda cool....
Sandy

Sandy Beckler
Jun-20-2012, 11:40pm
I can't seem to get the link to work...but trust me...it's way cool.

Sandy

http://home.comcast.net/~kathymatsu####a/moreprojects/htmlpages/hu9.html

houseworker
Jun-20-2012, 11:44pm
The link doesn't work because the luthier's name is being picked up by the site's automatic censoring of a four letter word beginning with s and ending with t that forms part of her name!

Sandy Beckler
Jun-21-2012, 12:15am
The link doesn't work because the luthier's name is being picked up by the site's automatic censoring of a four letter word beginning with s and ending with t that forms part of her name!

Rats....I really wanted to share it. My apologies...

Sandy:disbelief:

Starrshine
Jun-21-2012, 12:32am
I have a small lap harp, steel string. I found that my callouses got in the way of my playing; fingernails too. I much rather play my hammered dulcimer and it does seem to stay in tune when I play out, it's a 15/16 dual course. I use to have a four course, but it warped.

Beanzy
Jun-21-2012, 1:38am
The link doesn't work because the luthier's name is being picked up by the site's automatic censoring of a four letter word beginning with s and ending with t that forms part of her name!

If you right-click on the link (http://home.comcast.net/~kathymatsu####a/moreprojects/htmlpages/hu9.html) then chose "copy linklocation" then just paste it into the location bar in your browser it will appear. just replace the four censored hash marks with the slang word for a poo then it'll work

Jim Garber
Jun-21-2012, 8:10am
are you guys talking about this kinda "harp"....
Kinda cool....

That is a harp guitar. Buy this site has too many filters -- you can't even use a tiny url.

houseworker
Jun-21-2012, 8:30am
That is a harp guitar. Buy this site has too many filters -- you can't even use a tiny url.

Scott tells me you can: http://#######.com/7c4zjcm

.....but you can't! :))


And now, as if by magic, you can!

http://tinyurl.com/7c4zjcm

Sandy Beckler
Jun-21-2012, 3:01pm
I thought the "Harp Guitar" was pretty cool...thanks to those who helped "skirt" the rules...and to you as well Scott.

Sandy

Bobby Branton
Jun-21-2012, 5:12pm
Do they have a book named "Harps for Dummies??";)

Santiago
Jun-21-2012, 5:28pm
There used to be a jazz harp player at the NAMM Show every year in the '80s who would play an amplified and sometimes MIDIed harp. He was really excellent. I remember him playing Freeway Jam on it and drawing a huge crowd.

Ed Goist
Jun-21-2012, 9:11pm
Jason Harshbarger of Highland Strings Instruments (http://www.highlandstrings.com/home), the talented young luthier who built my beloved 2-Point "The Raven" has also built at least one harp. Here are some pics of it:

88246 88247

88248 88249

multidon
Jun-21-2012, 9:52pm
Do they have a book named "Harps for Dummies??"

No, not yet, but if anyone is serious about trying it out the Harp for Dummies equivalent for the past 30+ years has been "Teach Yourself to Play Folk Harp" by Sylvia Woods. That book is amazingly clear, well written, and does exactly what the title says it does! Highly recommended. In my opinion, harp is easy compared to mandolin!

catmandu2
Jun-22-2012, 1:53pm
Jason Harshbarger of Highland Strings Instruments (http://www.highlandstrings.com/home), the talented young luthier who built my beloved 2-Point "The Raven" has also built at least one harp.

Beauty Ed, thanks for the pics.

And beautiful playing and singing ms harper. You also play banjo? Pulled in a few different directions are you? :)

Jeff Budz
Jun-23-2012, 5:10am
I figure I'll have plenty of time to study harp when I'm dead.... Or perhaps I'll be studying fiddle instead... If you know what I mean.

harper
Jun-26-2012, 7:24pm
Beauty Ed, thanks for the pics.

And beautiful playing and singing ms harper. You also play banjo? Pulled in a few different directions are you? :)

Thanks, catmandu2. Yes, if it has strings or bellows, I am interested. I don't play much banjo yet, but I hope to learn a bit at the O'Flaherty Irish Music Retreat in Texas in October. I have a Slingerland short scale Irish tenor banjo. Fortunately it is tuned like the mandolin.

harper
Jun-26-2012, 7:34pm
No, not yet, but if anyone is serious about trying it out the Harp for Dummies equivalent for the past 30+ years has been "Teach Yourself to Play Folk Harp" by Sylvia Woods. That book is amazingly clear, well written, and does exactly what the title says it does! Highly recommended. In my opinion, harp is easy compared to mandolin!

I have the Woods book, and it is good and has been popular for decades. However, I think by far the best books for teaching yourself harp are the relatively new ones by Pamela Bruner: Play the Harp Beautifully, 3 books and a DVD. Here's a description. http://www.pamelabrunermusic.com/harp_books.php They give excellent photos and descriptions of technique that will produce the best sound and avoid injury.

Naturally, if you can find a good teacher, that would be better.

harper
Jun-26-2012, 7:39pm
[QUOTE=Ed Goist;1063719]Jason Harshbarger of Highland Strings Instruments (http://www.highlandstrings.com/home), the talented young luthier who built my beloved 2-Point "The Raven" has also built at least one harp. Here are some pics of it:

What a beautiful harp, Ed.

CHASAX
Apr-19-2017, 2:43pm
Yes, I am a harper. My avatar "multidon" refers to the fact that I am a multi-instrumentalist. In my group the Pic-a-Longs I play mandolin, fiddle, hammered dulcimer, and harp. I have only been playing harp a little over a year. I wasn't even thinking about starting harp but I found a Celtic lap harp collecting dust in a local music store. The owner was anxious to get rid of it because it had been around a long time. I got it for his cost-$250! Turns out it is luthier made by a fine maker, Steen Harps, in WV. I have enjoyed playing it immensely. I get complements on the beautiful tone wherever I play it. I also play it solo in the waiting room of an oncology center here. Even mistakes sound good because the tone is just so lovely!

If you are interested in pursuing this I do have some suggestions for you:

1. Harps can be expensive. It is possible to get a Celtic style lap harp for not too much though. Check out the "harpsicle" line and "Noteworthy" County Kerry harps. Good quality that does not cost an arm and a leg. Elderly carries both brands.
2. You need to buy a harp that has sharping levers. Each string that has a sharping lever can be sharped by engaging the lever. Usually most folk music stays in the same key so you set the levers once. If you have no levers you can only play in C major/A minor. It is common to find harps with levers on all the C's and F's. Then you can play in C/G/D major and A/E/B minor, which covers 95 percent of folk music. If you buy one without levers it is difficult and expensive to retrofit them. My harp is fully levered on all strings so I can play in any key.
3. Do not be tempted by the low price on the Pakistani-made harps common on e-Bay. They come in various brand names- Early Music Shop, Roosbeck, and others. They can be identified by being made of "rosewood" and often have "Celtic knot" carvings on them. They are not well regarded in the harp world.
4. Since you are a classical guitarist I will tell you you pluck harp strings with the skin of your fingers, not the nails. Your classical guitar nails might get in the way.
5. When I started I was afraid. I thought it would be difficult. I found out it isn't as difficult as one would imagine. For one thing, I didn't know the C strings were red and the F strings were blue. This helps to orient you and therefore you keep track of what note you are playing.
6. If you find a used harp it will almost certainly need new strings. Strings on a harp are not like other instruments. There is no standard set. Harp strings have to be custom made for each specific model. Most of them come with a "string chart" that tells you the gauges you need for each note. If a used harp comes with one that is a plus. If not there is a company that keeps many on file, Vermont Strings.
7.I highly recommend getting and reading "Teach Yourself to Play the Folk Harp" by Sylvia Woods. Not only does it enable you to do what the title says, it gives you a lot of background and reference information, including how to restring.

That's all I can think of for now. Feel free to PM me if I can be of further assisitance!

All that. Prefer the method book by Star West. Star West also has other sheet music books in print and a website.
Rented a Dusty Strings Ravenna 26 and had a lesson with Star yesterday. Have promised to sell some of the other instruments lying around if I buy a harp.
The sound is super superb.

catmandu2
Apr-19-2017, 3:13pm
Dustys are great harps. Congrats on your choice.

Wow, thread is 4 years old - have to report our progress with it. I did get my wire harp(s), and even the guzheng - used the harps (and even the guzheng) for hospice work last year. My son enjoys the zheng, particularly. Me, getting increasingly into early music - old clarsach repertoire, etc.

*Reading the old posts - i might mention i've since found a more portable HD and have played out with that quite a bit too over the last few years.

Dr H
Apr-19-2017, 4:24pm
Dustys are great harps. Congrats on your choice.

Wow, thread is 4 years old - have to report our progress with it. I did get my wire harp(s), and even the guzheng - used the harps (and even the guzheng) for hospice work last year. My son enjoys the zheng, particularly. Me, getting increasingly into early music - old clarsach repertoire, etc.

*Reading the old posts - i might mention i've since found a more portable HD and have played out with that quite a bit too over the last few years.

I messed around with pedal harp back in grad school; even took formal lessons for a year. But the closest I get to anything harp-like these days is my German Framus concert zither.

catmandu2
Apr-19-2017, 4:42pm
Well H - nice to hear from you again!

DON'T get me going on pedal steel...I was making progress whittling down my musical madness!

*Just realized it's '17 - and the thread is 5, not 4 years old. And now I see you'd said pedal harp, not steel. Sheesh. Shows you where my head's at.. I hope I'll hear more about your zither doings - on our 'zither page' maybe? :)

Beanzy
Apr-20-2017, 1:15am
The harp is a wonderful instrument in duet with mandolin.
I had the pleasure of playing for a year and a half with a young harpist until exam pressures took over.
The warm rounded sound of the harp is perfectly set against the more focussed attack of the plectrum on mandolin strings.

This is one video that inspired us to explore some Michel Courette pieces;

We even won a local competiton playing that one.


Ferdinand Binnendijk has been exploring some lovely pieces with harpists:




As has Joseph Brent;


I find it a wonderful combination. If anyone has a chance I'd definitely encourage you to explore it.

catmandu2
Apr-20-2017, 1:22pm
Lovely as orchestral harp is, what really captured me is expressed here eloquently by TM (something I've posted before at least once :) ), rather than my clumsy utterings about "the sound." There's something about slow airs, pibrochs - the staple of wire harp - that affects me I guess in a manner of other players of the oeuvre. Perhaps TM's prognosis isn't entirely accurate, but I understand the compulsion for 'slow' music - it's taken me over to a large degree. (I haven't been into listening to the supergroups for some while now, myself)