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Celtic harp

GUEST,Hunky-yo 10 Nov 20 - 04:04 AM
Jack Campin 10 Nov 20 - 04:50 AM
leeneia 10 Nov 20 - 11:16 AM
sian, west wales 10 Nov 20 - 12:02 PM
Nick 10 Nov 20 - 01:25 PM
Helen 10 Nov 20 - 02:33 PM
GUEST 11 Nov 20 - 11:06 AM
Helen 11 Nov 20 - 03:55 PM
GUEST,John P 11 Nov 20 - 07:29 PM
Helen 12 Nov 20 - 07:17 PM
GUEST,Hunky-yo 13 Nov 20 - 07:23 PM
GUEST,Hunky-yo 13 Nov 20 - 07:28 PM
Helen 13 Nov 20 - 10:17 PM
Helen 13 Nov 20 - 10:21 PM
Jack Campin 14 Nov 20 - 06:12 AM
GUEST,Alison Lawson 14 Nov 20 - 08:39 AM
leeneia 14 Nov 20 - 02:01 PM
Helen 14 Nov 20 - 03:06 PM
The Sandman 17 Nov 20 - 03:35 PM
John P 17 Nov 20 - 08:56 PM
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Subject: Celtic harp
From: GUEST,Hunky-yo
Date: 10 Nov 20 - 04:04 AM

Personally, I can’t carry a tune in a bucket. My voice has been compared to a cross between the B9 Robot on Lost In Space, and Rod McKuen.

Also, hands are failing, hard work and cold exposure. No more violin/fiddle, or even cello. So, learning to play Celtic Harp.

Any recommendations on folk music for this instrument? Mostly on searches find only classical pieces, even teacher can’t find any relevant pieces. She’s a very patient person, but says my handling of the instrument looks more like molesting it than playing it.

Thank you in advance for any advice.


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Subject: RE: Celtic harp
From: Jack Campin
Date: 10 Nov 20 - 04:50 AM

I see a lot of people round here using the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland books published by Taigh na Teud.


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Subject: RE: Celtic harp
From: leeneia
Date: 10 Nov 20 - 11:16 AM

If you can improvise a bass part using chord symbols, there are many books of Celtic music to be had. Actually, learning to do that is a good idea, because it will make a huge amount of traditional music accessible to you. There is an Irish harper named Carolan (also called O'Carolan) whose music bridges the folk and classical styles.

If you need a bass part written out, I suggest starting with books by Sylvia Woods. I've heard harpers question her fingering numbers, but if you ignore them and do what your teacher says, you ought to be all right.

If you can, I would suggest looking for a different teacher. I don't like the sound of that remark about molesting the harp, and what harper has not heard of Carolan nowadays?


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Subject: RE: Celtic harp
From: sian, west wales
Date: 10 Nov 20 - 12:02 PM

It depends on what kind of music you want to learn/play. There are some good collections of Welsh tunes. Enquire with the Welsh traditional instruments society, www.clera.org.

A lot of teachers are now doing lessons online. Maureen McKay in Toronto is teaching on Zoom. In what we refer to as 'normal times' she also does two 5 day courses at Haliburton Summer School for the Arts, one for complete beginners and one for not quite beginners which are very good.

sian


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Subject: RE: Celtic harp
From: Nick
Date: 10 Nov 20 - 01:25 PM

A friend of mine has started playing and I will ask where she is getting her tunes from - though she plays piano and the transition between the two makes sense. It's a white note piano. I can play guitar and can play a keyboard up to a point and once the harp was explained (and how it was tuned and what the up and down levers do) then it makes sense so that I can play a tune on it. Not well but it makes sense. It is very like the inside of a piano!

Leeneia is right. If you can use chords just to give you the bass notes then there is a huge wealth of tunes in ABC format or similar (which is easily convertible) on sites like thesession.org

I have linked to the Kesh jig as an example. If you scroll down on many of the tunes you will find that someone has added chords. If you play octaves or octaves and fifths in your left hand to mirror the chords and pick the tune in your right hand you should have lots of material.


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Subject: RE: Celtic harp
From: Helen
Date: 10 Nov 20 - 02:33 PM

Hi Hunky-yo,

I bought my first Celtic harp back in the '80's and bought Teach Yourself to Play the Folk Harp by Sylvia Woods

For many years I was learning on my own without a teacher and with no contact with other harpers and it was an excellent starting point.

I can recommend this webpage for tunes because it has the sheet music and MIDI files from:
O'Neill's Music of Ireland: Turlough O'Carolan

I also recently bought this book 110 Ireland's Best Carolan Tunes published by Waltons . The book with accompanying CD is also available.

I also have this excellent book:
40 O'Carolan Tunes by Sylvia Woods

A simple but beautiful slow O'Carolan tune to start with is Blind Mary.

Does your Celtic harp have levers? If you can play tunes in the keys of C Major/A minor, G Major/E minor and D Major/B minor you will have a lot of choice for tunes.

My best tip is to avoid tunes with accidentals, a tune which is in a particular key but which throws in a sharp or flat note which does not normally appear in that key.

When you are looking for tunes to learn, start by looking for tunes with no pesky sharps or flats thrown in. You can learn the task of flipping levers later in your journey.

The O'Neill's website has a wealth of old Irish tunes on different pages, so you should be able to find plenty of tunes to play, and that's just the Irish folk tune universe. You'll be spoilt for choice when you also investigate Welsh music and Scottish music. One of my favourite Welsh tunes is Ar Hyd A Nos/All Through the Night but there are many, many more tunes to choose from and many books available now.

Lots of harp recordings are available too and I would highly recommend Derek Bell or Máire Ní Chathasaigh playing Irish music and O'Carolan tunes, and Sileas playing Scottish music. There are heaps more to choose from but they are brilliant.

Playing music with my friends who play melody instruments e.g. tin whistle or fiddle etc, helped me to progress quickly with playing chords.

Remember: make it easy on yourself and choose music with no accidentals while you are a beginner.

Please, let us know how you are going with it.

All the best from Australia,
Helen


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Subject: RE: Celtic harp
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Nov 20 - 11:06 AM

Where art thou, Hunky-yo?


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Subject: RE: Celtic harp
From: Helen
Date: 11 Nov 20 - 03:55 PM

I don't think Guests realise how swiftly we Mudcatters respond to requests for help. :-)


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Subject: RE: Celtic harp
From: GUEST,John P
Date: 11 Nov 20 - 07:29 PM

There are hundreds of books of music for Celtic harp. Here's some places to start:

Afghan Press
https://afghanpressmusic.com

Sylvia Woods Harp Center
https://www.harpcenter.com/

JW Pepper
https://www.jwpepper.com/sheet-music/celtic-harp-music.list


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Subject: RE: Celtic harp
From: Helen
Date: 12 Nov 20 - 07:17 PM

I'm still hoping that the OP returns to this.

Guest, John P, thanks for those links to Afghan Press and JW Pepper. I'll check them out.


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Subject: RE: Celtic harp
From: GUEST,Hunky-yo
Date: 13 Nov 20 - 07:23 PM

I really can’t replace my instructor, she’s a retired jarhead. Here in the states, that mean retired US Marine Corps. She doesn’t call a spade a spade, she calls it a f***in shovel.

But she when she plays her cross strung harp in the meadow behind her house, even her horses come close for a listen.

She is considering retiring and going back home to family around Christmas time. Pennsylvania.

I am living in Linden Texas, USA. Found a harp seller on Refurb website. Right now doing exercises to get hands more nimble again.

Thank you all for the info. Not a big fan base of harp music here in the pine hills of Texas.


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Subject: RE: Celtic harp
From: GUEST,Hunky-yo
Date: 13 Nov 20 - 07:28 PM

I saw a video of the harp playing Carol of the Bells, a simple but elegant piece. Relaxed dog in the background. If I could get to be at least that skilled, I’d be satisfied.

Still try Fugue in D Minor though.


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Subject: RE: Celtic harp
From: Helen
Date: 13 Nov 20 - 10:17 PM

Hi Hunky-yo,

Good to see you back here again.

Check out some of the music suggestions above. My first choice would be O'Carolan's piece called Blind Mary . It sounds better played slowly so it's a great first harp piece.

I knew absolutely no other harp players for many years. It's not easy trying to learn alone, so at least you have a teacher, and I prefer people who are straightforward so I'd probably be ok learning from your teacher.

My best trick for finding sheet music is to do a Google image search, e.g.

Blind Mary O'Carolan sheet music

Then click the Images tab

If you need any more information or ideas, or even encouragement just let us know. You can come back to this thread to keep the conversation going rather than starting a new thread.

Best wishes,
Helen


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Subject: RE: Celtic harp
From: Helen
Date: 13 Nov 20 - 10:21 PM

Carol of the Bells - AcousticTrench


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Subject: RE: Celtic harp
From: Jack Campin
Date: 14 Nov 20 - 06:12 AM

Not a big fan base of harp music here in the pine hills of Texas.

Maybe more for Latin American harp music?


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Subject: RE: Celtic harp
From: GUEST,Alison Lawson
Date: 14 Nov 20 - 08:39 AM

Interesting and helpful discussion. I agree about O'Carolan tunes and I follow a lovely harp teacher online who posts music up and gives tuition via video. She is called Anne Crosby Gaudet. I noticed that she has Carol Of Bells available too, there is a small charge for it.
The only other two books I would recommend are: The Celtic Harp - a selection of tunes for easy harp, selected by John Loesberg and aranged by Christine Martin and Siobhan Bhreathnach. And to develop nimble fingers, 'Harp Exercises - for agility and speed' by Deborah Friou. Hope thats helpful.


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Subject: RE: Celtic harp
From: leeneia
Date: 14 Nov 20 - 02:01 PM

Believe me, if you play the harp, there will be plenty of delighted people. Harp music is beautiful; that's why people have been playing it for a few centuries.
=========
There's a difference between being straightforward and making cruel wisecracks.


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Subject: RE: Celtic harp
From: Helen
Date: 14 Nov 20 - 03:06 PM

When I looked at sheet music examples of Carol Of Bells I saw that it has accidentals, so if Hunky-yo's harp is a lever harp and not a pedal harp or a cross-strung harp it is not a good tune to start trying to learn. On the other hand, looking at the video I found, being able to play the fast rhythmic pattern of notes is definitely a good goal to aim for, like playing fingerpicking patterns on guitar, banjo, ukulele etc.

The man who made my favourite Celtic harp used to play an Appalachian dulcimer, which he also made. He made a lot of dulcimers and guitars as well but only two harps towards the end of his instrument making life. He was a carpenter during his working life and an instrument maker in his spare time and then retirement. He had lost the top joint of two of his fingers many years ago at work but he played some beautiful tunes on the dulcimer. After making the harp for me he made one for himself but I don't know how well he could play it with the two shorter fingers. He sold it to a mutual friend.

Hunky-yo, what style of harp do you have? A lever harp or one without levers, or a pedal harp (which is not usually described as a Celtic harp) or a cross-strung harp?


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Subject: RE: Celtic harp
From: The Sandman
Date: 17 Nov 20 - 03:35 PM

Eileen Monger, produced an lp on saydisc, and then there is also bonnie shaljean


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Subject: RE: Celtic harp
From: John P
Date: 17 Nov 20 - 08:56 PM

Blowing my own horn:

The Dusty String
19 original tunes for Celtic harp
by John Peekstok


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