I recently came across a transcription of Mozart’s Sonata No. 11 arranged for harp by a harpist called Alfred Kastner. He did an excellent job with it – join me as I take a look through the first movement in the 2nd in a series I’m calling “From the Archives” as I highlight sheet music from the harp archives.
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In this episode I talk about how choosing a fingering that focuses just on a fast ornament or section and then comes off, even if there are additional notes after the ornament, can be a useful approach. I use two sections from Deborah Henson-Conant’s “The Nightingale” to demonstrate what I mean.
In this episode I take a look at a piece from Mildred Dilling’s collection “Thirty Little Classics for the Harp”. It’s a Minuet in G minor by Jean-Jacques Rousseau (yes, the philosopher). A beautiful, elegant tune that’s easy to play.
A look at Alphonse Hasselman’s lovely “Petite Berceuse“. In the key of C and playable on a 25 string harp, the sheet music is in the public domain and can be found at archive.org – https://bit.ly/2Jo2aY9
Is playing a separate pattern in each hand a challenge for you? In this episode of Harp Tuesday I offer some ideas of how to coordinate playing with both hands at the same time, using as an example a small section from my arrangement of The Skye Boat Song.
In this episode of Harp Tuesday I use the left hand pattern in Kim Robertson’s arrangement of Fauré’s Pavane to talk about three things to do to make an up and down left hand pattern sound as smooth and flowing as possible.
Kim Robertson’s Celtic Harp Solos is an excellent book. Your favourite harp music retailer will probably have a copy (or could obtain one for you). For example: https://gourd.com/robertsonbooks.html
Relaxation is so important when playing any instrument – both for speed and to remain injury and pain free. Making sure your fingers don’t stay clenched into the palm when they aren’t playing is one key to staying relaxed. In this episode I talk about how to achieve that (including using a rubber band as an aid!) and demonstrate how it looks.
Finding patterns in music is such a powerful tool! In this episode I analyze a section from Einaudi’s “Primavera” as an example. Whether you want to memorize a piece or just improve your fluency while playing from sheet music, looking for and finding patterns will serve you well 🙂
Here’s the start of a new type of video: From the Harp Archives. A quick look/read through of a piece of public domain music that I feel is worth highlighting. In this case, it’s Felix Godefroid’s beautiful setting of “The Last Rose of Summer”
Normally, when we play a harmonic on the harp it sounds an octave higher.
But it’s possible to play harmonics that sound an octave and a 5th higher, or 2 octaves, or 2 octaves+ 3rd, 2 octaves+ 5th, etc.
In this episode I demonstrate a technique I worked on recently to facilitate these extended harmonics that’s different from the way we normally play harmonics. Hope you enjoy 🙂 Would love to hear from you if you use an unusual physical approach when playing harmonics!
Happy 2019 everyone! I’m busy finishing my annual New Year’s Improv video, and I thought what better subject for today’s Harp Tuesday episode than a look at improvisation. I offer two concrete ideas to spark your creativity and get you improvising in 2019 🙂
I’m home from my fall 2018 European tour and ready to get back into recording Harp Tuesday episodes! Here’s a look at a short section from Debussy’s 1st Arabesque that features two different places where you have to be very careful to avoid buzzing!
Hans Trneček’s transcription of Smetana’s “The Moldau” is one of my absolute favourite pieces to play. In this episode I look at the last 3 lines and talk about problem solving and how sometimes we can come up with a better way to play something!
Here’s part 2 of my process of arranging the Skype Boat Song. Was inspired to do this from remembering my Arranging Greensleeves Project and thought the time was right to do something like that again! I’ll be arranging the Skye Boat Song over several episodes, watch part 1 here.
I fell in love with this song many years ago listening to a Zabaleta recording. Couldn’t find the sheet music at the time, but was thrilled to finally track it down a few years ago online at the harp archives
Labarre’s “Caprice” (as recorded by Zabaleta) is No. 7 from his “Grande étude pour la harpe : composée de huit caprices : op. 30”
In this episode I take a look at Carlos Salzedo’s “Seguidilla” from his suite of eight dances. I give some tips on it in general, and then talk about playing fast and offer some ideas and ways to work on speed.
I also made a version of this episode which shows the sheet music onscreen as I talk about it, though the video quality is worse overall. You can watch it below:
In this episode of Harp Tuesday I use the Irish slip jig The Butterfly as a starting point to talk about fingering and technique. Music for the Butterfly and 1000s of other traditional tunes can be found at https://thesession.org/tunes
Sign up to my email newsletter to get a free PDF copy with my suggested fingerings!
In this episode oI talk about chord progressions and working on the ability to automatically go up and down a chord sequence (root, 1st inversion, 2nd inversion). As a companion to this episode you might find these two episodes helpful:
In this first episode I take a look at a beautiful piece called Alfonso XII el Sabio (13th century Spain) from Kim Robertson’s sheet music book “Celtic Harp Solos . (I wonder if in fact it’s music associated with Alfonso X el Sabio).
In this episode I take a look at a contrary motion exercise you could use to practice coordinating two hands at once. But the practice principle I talk about can be applied to anything you’re working on!
“Pistache” (Pistachio) is one of a collection of pieces by Bernard Andres called “Epices” (Spices) where every pieces is based on a spice (Paprika, Cinnamon, Vanilla, etc.)
Pistache is probably my favourite from book one of the collection, and in this episode I take a look at it. Pistache has a bunch of cool effect/extended techniques, some fun rhythm stuff, and is just overall a blast to play 🙂
In this episode of Harp Tuesday I take a look at pedal slides, an extended technique for harp that takes advantage of the sound created when we change the pedal of a still vibrating string. Two of the pieces that I talk about are Salzedo’s “La Desirade” and Andre Caplet’s 2nd Divertissement “a l’espagnole“.
A two part look at Canadian composer Marjan Mozetich’s beautiful harp solo “Songs of Nymphs“. Written for Erica Goodman in 1988 with the assistance of the Ontario Arts Council, Songs of Nymphs is made up of four songs, or movements:
Welcome to the 100th episode of Harp Tuesday! 100 is a big number and I feel proud to have reached it! 🙂 Thanks to all of you who watch and comments on my videos – you’re the reason I’ve made it to #100!
In this episode I offer some thoughts and advice on buying a harp, with an emphasis on advice for someone looking to buy their very first harp.
I hope this is helpful, and thanks for watching!
The complete episode is below, but I also split this episode into individual sections if there’s something specific you’re interested in.
“I feel different” is one of my favourite compositions by Dutch harpist/composer Anne Vanschothorst. It felt like a great subject for my return to Harp Tuesday after a long break due to my European trip, etc.
Feels great to be back, and on almost exactly the five year anniversary of the very first Harp Tuesday episode!
Hope you enjoy – I’ll be doing a couple follow up Slow Motion Monday videos from this piece – look for that next week.
In this special edition of Harp Tuesday from the Zagreb Harp Centre in Croatia (http://zagrebharpfestival.com) I take a look at the “Rondo” from Bochsa’s “Air and Rondo” – the first piece in Samuel Milligan’s “Medieval to Modern volume 2”.
In this special edition of Harp Tuesday from the Zagreb Harp Centre in Croatia (http://zagrebharpfestival.com) I take a look at the “Air” from Bochsa’s “Air and Rondo” – the first piece in Samuel Milligan’s “Medieval to Modern volume 2”.
We so often play chords with a break/roll, even if it’s very slight. It’s good to be able to play chords with every note sounding at the exact same time – here I offer a few thoughts on hand position and finger action when playing 4 finger solid chords.
Here’s a “Slow Motion Monday” video of me playing chords:
In this episode I have fun slowing down three short clips. To start is a look at a right hand scale, followed by the last page of Grandjany’s “Rhapsody”, and finally a short section from Anne Vanschothorst’s “A Bird Came Flying”
From orchestral playing to harp ensembles to duets, playing with other people is a lot of fun! In this episode of Harp Tuesday I talk about two aspects of playing with others and give some specific exercises you can practice on your own.
In this episode of Harp Tuesday I finally (!) finish my look at how to read music. In December of 2010, for my fifth episode of Harp Tuesday, I talked about how to decipher notes on the printed page and translate them into which strings to play on the harp… In this episode I talk about the other aspect of written music – Rhythm!
This was a tricky episode to put together, and I’m still not sure how much sense it makes, but if you’re trying to learn to read music hopefully this will help!
You can download the PDF sheet showing what shapes equal what note durations (Whole note, half note, etc.) here.
In these episodes of Harp Tuesday I look at a piece that I learned as “Variations sur un theme de Mozart”, playable on the Celtic harp and edited by Odette le Dentu. However, it turns out it may have nothing to do with Mozart! Thanks to a youtube comment I found the original on IMSLP – it’s the first of 4 Airs and variations by French composer Martin Dalvimare.
In this episode of Harp Tuesday I talk about creating simple accompaniment patterns for the left hand based on chords, and offer some ideas on improv. Both draw heavily from a firm knowledge of chord structure – I did an episode on chords that might prove useful.
I use Auld Lang Syne as the demonstration piece for this episode. I’m reading from a handwritten lead sheet (chord symbols + right hand tune). Download the PDF here.
For the first Harp Tuesday episode of 2013 I tried something new – a virtual duet of the Bach/Gounod Ave Maria.
I’ve recorded both parts to the Bach/Gounod Ave Maria, with the idea being that you can pick a part to play (tune/accompaniment) and then playing along with the video of the corresponding part – a virtual duet!
The tune is quite easy – just single notes for the right hand. It can be played on the lever harp (there are two lever changes, but since the left hand isn’t playing they should be fairly painless…)
The accompaniment (Bach’s Prelude No. 1) is harder, and involves a number of pedal changes. I’m also not sure how easy it will be to try and play along with the tune, since the tune has a lot of long notes, where there is no way of knowing whether we’re together or not… Would love to hear your experiences if you try it!
You can download a PDF of the sheet music. As long as it isn’t too confusing, I’d suggest trying to play from the score, which has both parts. This lets you see what the other part is supposed to be doing 🙂
In this episode of Harp Tuesday I talk about dealing tricky rhythms – with a look at sections from Flowers in the Valley, the Sarabande from Bach’s Partitia no. 1, the Interlude from Britten’s Ceremony of Carols, and The Blue Dove.
I had a lot of fun with this series of episodes – all about arranging Greensleeves. I ended up with an arrangement/composition that I really like, and it’s neat to see it happen bit by bit, including in the first episode, in real time!
November 29, 2010 – Episode 1 – An in-depth look at Benjamin Britten’s Ceremony of Carols. The first ever Harp Tuesday! I ended up re-uploading this after adjusting the audio levels – I’ve linked to that version, but you can still find the original on my YouTube channel.