The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #50283   Message #762047
Posted By: GUEST,Mollywog
08-Aug-02 - 03:30 PM
Thread Name: Help: harp for beginners
Subject: RE: Help: harp for beginners
I'm with "Guest". The Sylvia Woods book is a great place to start. The nice thing about Woods' books is that there's a whole multimedia experience available...the "Teach Yourself to Play the Folk Harp" book can be used on its own, or you can get the accompanying tape or cd (or even a video!) that goes through all the lessons and tunes in the book.

My other favorite book, and especially recommended if your harp is a "clarsach" and you're into the Scottish style, is Alison Kinnaird's book "The Small Harp". It comes with an accompanying CD, and I really like both the exercises and the simple tunes and song arrangements in it.

It's geared for the absolute beginner--has a section on tuning, etc. Actually, it's specifically meant to be usable for small lap harps, but I find it very easy to use on my 32-string as well. (Adapting for a larger size is rarely a problem!)

Another good book that has a great range of songs is "Exploring the Folk Harp," by Janna and McCall Geller. It's published by Mel Bay. It has a short section on the basics...tuning, hand position, reading music, yadda yadda...and then dives right into the music, and it has simple arrangements ranging from old traditional ballads to even a few classical and baroque pieces.

I could go on for hours *grin* I should admit that I work in a music store and sell harps and harp books for a living, so I tend to fall into "customer service" mode whenever I encounter a question like this. ;) Hope it helps.

About strings...hmmm, that could be tricky if you don't know the background of your harp (believe me, I speak from personal experience *sigh*). Are you in the US or the UK? If you're in the U.S., I would recommend looking up Robinson's Harp Shop in California. They make custom string sets for any harp; all you have to do is call them up, give them the note and measured vibrating length of each string, and they'll make you up a set. I would imagine there's someone in the UK who can provide that service, but I'm not really sure who that would be. Any UK 'catter harpists have any insights?

Ok, enough outta me...