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playing autoharp with bow

GUEST,emmie 30 Sep 13 - 10:21 AM
GUEST,Ebor_Fiddler 30 Sep 13 - 07:19 PM
Jack Campin 30 Sep 13 - 07:49 PM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 30 Sep 13 - 08:16 PM
Bill D 30 Sep 13 - 09:01 PM
PHJim 30 Sep 13 - 09:02 PM
GUEST 01 Oct 13 - 02:40 AM
JohnInKansas 01 Oct 13 - 03:40 AM
GUEST,Henry piper of Ottery 01 Oct 13 - 04:14 AM
MGM·Lion 01 Oct 13 - 04:23 AM
Emmie 01 Oct 13 - 09:25 AM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 01 Oct 13 - 10:18 AM
Mr Happy 01 Oct 13 - 10:25 AM
Bill D 01 Oct 13 - 10:28 AM
Mr Happy 01 Oct 13 - 11:14 AM
McGrath of Harlow 01 Oct 13 - 01:57 PM
JohnInKansas 01 Oct 13 - 02:52 PM
McGrath of Harlow 01 Oct 13 - 03:14 PM
Emmie 06 Oct 13 - 05:18 AM
Dave Hanson 06 Oct 13 - 05:49 AM
Emmie 06 Oct 13 - 04:10 PM
GUEST 06 Oct 13 - 04:42 PM
Emmie 06 Oct 13 - 07:24 PM
Uncle Tone 07 Oct 13 - 09:49 AM
Dave Hanson 07 Oct 13 - 02:51 PM
GUEST,Blandiver 07 Oct 13 - 03:09 PM
GUEST 28 Sep 15 - 12:46 AM
GUEST,Cup Of Tea, no cookies 28 Sep 15 - 05:52 PM
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Subject: playing autoharp with bow
From: GUEST,emmie
Date: 30 Sep 13 - 10:21 AM

Has anyone tried doing this? I saw someone play a zither with a bow and it created a really atmospheric sound.I have an autoharp that is gathering dust but I am thinking of tuning it ( theres an evening gone) and experimenting with using it to accompany my singing.


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Subject: RE: playing autoharp with bow
From: GUEST,Ebor_Fiddler
Date: 30 Sep 13 - 07:19 PM

Are you sure it was a zither and not a bowed psaltery?


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Subject: RE: playing autoharp with bow
From: Jack Campin
Date: 30 Sep 13 - 07:49 PM

The commonest thing like this is the ukelin. Getting a bow to contact all the strings of an autoharp at once would be difficult.


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Subject: RE: playing autoharp with bow
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 30 Sep 13 - 08:16 PM

hmmm... a specially constructed autoharp with a significantly convex soundboard
and likewise fitting key mechanism
might be an interesting project
for anybody with sufficient instrument making skills ???

.... and yes, i do enjoy the harsh abrasive sounds of psaltery & hurdy gurdy....


.. probably why I can't live without the tones of mid 60s designed exreme fuzz boxes !!??


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Subject: RE: playing autoharp with bow
From: Bill D
Date: 30 Sep 13 - 09:01 PM

Almost impossible to do anything with a bow on autoharp... you can strum or tap, but it is designed for chording and strumming within a chord. I agree with Jack that a ukelin is the way to go. I have one but never did much with it.


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Subject: RE: playing autoharp with bow
From: PHJim
Date: 30 Sep 13 - 09:02 PM

Perhaps if you played with the bow between the tuning pegs, the way a bowed psaltry or ukeline player does, you could play on the treble strings, but I don't think it's advisable.   Maybe as a gimmick for one song, but as the only way to play it? No.


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Subject: RE: playing autoharp with bow
From: GUEST
Date: 01 Oct 13 - 02:40 AM

The thing is it wont really work on a chromatic autoharp but might with an autoharp tuned diaronically? Alternatively, try playing your autoharp with teaspoons for a nice autoharp effectt that will make it sound like a dulcimer! Look on youtube. You can also play with thimbles as stoneman did for a nice zithery effect. In the same way as prepared piano, you might try laying found obljects on the strings such as paper clips or morris bells or coins for some new age playing.

Pat


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Subject: RE: playing autoharp with bow
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 01 Oct 13 - 03:40 AM

In order to use a bow on a stringed instrument, in any conventional way, it's necessary to be able to get the bow on a single string at a time, or to various pairs/groups of strings, without hitting the other strings. The flat layout of the strings on an autoharp makes this pretty much impossible. If you bowed across all of the strings, you'd only move the ones at the edges, and the bowhair would be nearly out of contact with the strings in the middle.

A number of instruments all "look a lot alike" but actually are quite difference. For reference:

bowed psaltery

autoharp

simple Zither

fancy Zither

Ukelin

Ukelin music??????

The bowed psaltery has a "bridge" at the base end of the strings, but the upper ends connect directly to the tuning pegs. The difference in string lengths allows a "gap" in which the bow can contact any single string. Alternate strings are arranged along the two sides to make the gaps just large enough to fit a bow between the pegs to pick which string to play.

While it might appear that there are gaps between the pegs, at least at one end of some of the pegs on an autoharp, the active string length is "cut off" by a "bridge" at one end and a "nut" at the other, so there's no place to get the bow onto the "working part" any particular string to bow it.

The simple Zither has the same problem as the autoharp, with the working string lengths determined by bridge and nut bars that would prevent getting a bow onto the strings.

The most promising adaptation of a zither might be done with the "fancy Zither" since the "guitar strings" along the edge could be run over a "ramped/convex curved bridge" to bring those few strings up to where a bow could get to them, but it would probably be appropriate to retune those strings like a fiddle, rather than what's most likely used for a "guitar like" fretboard. A conversion presents several interesting puzzles to be solved.

It's quite likely that what was seen being played with a bow was a bowed psaltery. And it might be noted that for purposes of experimentation one of the simple psalteries would likely be much cheaper than the costs of modifying another kind of instrument. Those who play the psaltery generally prefer bows much smaller than the usual fiddle bow, since the bow has to jump from string to string a lot, but even a little investigation should find decent enough information to decide whether to dive into one.

John


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Subject: RE: playing autoharp with bow
From: GUEST,Henry piper of Ottery
Date: 01 Oct 13 - 04:14 AM

If you want to "bow" something, why not simply use a Fiddle. Simples !!


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Subject: RE: playing autoharp with bow
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 01 Oct 13 - 04:23 AM

Or else play it with a curtsey instead?


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Subject: RE: playing autoharp with bow
From: Emmie
Date: 01 Oct 13 - 09:25 AM

I shall almost definitely play it with a curtsey!Wow! Thanks fro such brilliant information. I feel like such an eejit, of course you would need to bow on just one string!! Very interesting to explore the information here. I will learn more about the differences between the instruments. I'm going to experiment with a dulcimer sound by playing with spoons ( cool) and now off to check out bowed psaltreys on ebay. I think the performance I saw the guy told me it was a zither and he may have removed some of the strings???? It looked like a zither-one of those ones in russian paintings that is black with a rose painted on it and a harp shape.


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Subject: RE: playing autoharp with bow
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 01 Oct 13 - 10:18 AM

If I ever had enough spare £££$$$ I'd quite fancy a Baritone Bowed Psaltery and a Hurdy Gurdy...



.. and an original 1960s issue Mosrite Fuzzrite


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Subject: RE: playing autoharp with bow
From: Mr Happy
Date: 01 Oct 13 - 10:25 AM

You'd best get very heavy duty strings if you're going to use spoons to play!


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Subject: RE: playing autoharp with bow
From: Bill D
Date: 01 Oct 13 - 10:28 AM

Ukelin music? Is that how Harold Vaclev attracts audiences? Or does she hold it while he ...ummm... bows it?


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Subject: RE: playing autoharp with bow
From: Mr Happy
Date: 01 Oct 13 - 11:14 AM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c5Q0_lSq4Jc


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Subject: RE: playing autoharp with bow
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 01 Oct 13 - 01:57 PM

It might be possible to build an autoharp where, when you pressed the sound bars it would depress the strings not needed in a chord sufficiently to allow bowing, rather than just muffling them.

Whether it would be worth it I don't know - but that might have been what the man Emmie came across had done.


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Subject: RE: playing autoharp with bow
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 01 Oct 13 - 02:52 PM

Running any normal kind of bow across more than a half-dozen strings at the same time would only wiggle the strings at the edges, since the bow hairs have nothing to hold them down against the strings in the middle.

In order to shake all the strings on an autoharp it appears you would need something really stiff like a hacksaw rather than a bow (not necessarily a bad idea in this case?)

A mountain dulcimer takes on a whole different personality with a hammer rather than a plectrum, but bigger hammers won't make it much louder than plucking. The normal strings will take any reasonable amount of thumping with something like a small spoon, but with a typical setup the strings are too close together to pick out individual ones to hit, so most people only beat a melody on the top string "for the effect." Since you have to finger the strings, you can't easily use more than one spoon at a time, unless you've got a "courtin' dulcimer."

Another "effect" that can be used on some stringed instruments is to stoke the string lengthwise rather than cross wise. The sound wave velocity is about 6x as high for a tension wave as for a transverse wave for a typical string (which is why some guitar players squeak and chirp so often?). Look up the "barn door bass" for the traditional playground applications.

John


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Subject: RE: playing autoharp with bow
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 01 Oct 13 - 03:14 PM

You couldn't do it with a normal bow and strings, but adapting the materials used in a hurdy gurdy might work, so that it would be possible to play block chords.

I've my doubts if it would be worth it, but who knows.


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Subject: RE: playing autoharp with bow
From: Emmie
Date: 06 Oct 13 - 05:18 AM

I'm going to be radical now and play my autoharp like an autoharp. I'm trying to tune the darn thing and have managed to lose the little fine tuner pin ( have the main tuner) Anyone know where to buy one online? It came originally with my Oscar Schmidt autoharp.


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Subject: RE: playing autoharp with bow
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 06 Oct 13 - 05:49 AM

Instruments with strings all in the same plane, or all on the same level, are not meant to be played with a bow, simples.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: playing autoharp with bow
From: Emmie
Date: 06 Oct 13 - 04:10 PM

I think I realise that now I will eventually buy another instrument I can play with a bow.


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Subject: RE: playing autoharp with bow
From: GUEST
Date: 06 Oct 13 - 04:42 PM

I know, a nickelharpa. You would have loads to bow there plus hurdygurdy type buttons to press! They are finnish instruments.


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Subject: RE: playing autoharp with bow
From: Emmie
Date: 06 Oct 13 - 07:24 PM

and my dad lives in Finland-going there in a few weeks! Thanks for that!! Might be just the thing :-)


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Subject: RE: playing autoharp with bow
From: Uncle Tone
Date: 07 Oct 13 - 09:49 AM

To bow an autoharp you would need a bowed bow. Now there's an interesting DIY project!

I have just bought another Richmond 21 bar harp with an integral pick-up. I also found a cheap FX box on eBay. I am now playing heavy metal grunge autoharp!

Fun.... for me, but not the neighbours it seems!

Tone


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Subject: RE: playing autoharp with bow
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 07 Oct 13 - 02:51 PM

It's the bow that keeps the hair tensioned, it's impossible to have it the other way round.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: playing autoharp with bow
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 07 Oct 13 - 03:09 PM

It might be possible with an EBow off Ebay. Otherwise have a look at the Geigenwerk (here called Viola Organista) :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WIFocw29a-I


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Subject: RE: playing autoharp with bow
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Sep 15 - 12:46 AM

Great Idea!


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Subject: RE: playing autoharp with bow
From: GUEST,Cup Of Tea, no cookies
Date: 28 Sep 15 - 05:52 PM

There are a seemingly infinite range of zither family instruments, the autoharp being only one branch of the family. Try looking at some of the many zither sites - there was one that seemed to have a hundred variations.

The combination of bowed & strummed in one instrument seems to have been a great deal from the Marx instrument company of Michigan. Their "pianolin" "ukelin" "violin-uke" and who knows what other ---lin names, would have one section set up with groups of strings that would be tuned to a chord, and some strings on the side that were meant to be bowed. They are set up much like the strings on a bowed psaltery, though they tended to arranged so that one string would serve for two notes (think of the way a string on a hammer dulcimer provides a different note on each side of the bridge) These date from the same period when the autoharp came to life.

I have a ukelin hanging above my fireplace that I don't play - it takes half an hour to tune and stays in tune for about 5 min, so I just enjoy playing bowed psaltery some of the time and Autoharp most of the time. It would be nifty if a luthier decided to try making these again: there are folks out there experimenting with the parameters of zitherthings. A friend brought back a picture from a Cathedral in France of an instrument about the size of a hammer dulcimer that had 12 groups of 7 strings making up named chords, and a separate set of about 3 octaves of individual strings to play melody (that were underlaid with a graphic of a piano keyboard and staff notes) No clue what it was called, so it's a Frenchzitherthing till I learn otherwise!

A bowed psaltery sound is likely what caught your ear, and is fine for accompanying singing, (I have 3) and if you get flashy with that you can have it braced and play with two bows, or pluck a string while bowing another. Have fun finding something that works for you.

Joanne in Cleveland


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