Got My First Harp

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cat
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Re: Got My First Harp

Post by cat »

And how is your harping coming along, nano?
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Re: Got My First Harp

Post by Nanohedron »

Why, thanks for asking! :)

I'm afraid it's a bit on hold for now, as I recently had a hard fall that screwed up my right arm and shoulder, including a heavily bruised tip of my ring finger, and that means no harping. I could probably start up again by now, but I'll probably hold off for another week. The distal joint wasn't damaged, but in case the tip itself could have been broken, I want to exercise some care, yet.

But I've worked out a backup for Leonard Cohen's song Hallelujah, and I count it a bit of a triumph, because without sharping levers how do you field that one little bittersweet - and IMO absolutely essential - accidental in the original? What I did was to use a progression of certain notes from the accidental's potential chord scheme to imply its existence. It's an approach that won't work every time in every case, but in this instance the result is convincing enough for me to be more than satisfied.

I might try scordatura, too, but that's for another time. Right now it's more important for me to become sure-fingered, and that's the big hurdle.
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Re: Got My First Harp

Post by benhall.1 »

Nanohedron wrote:that one little bittersweet - and IMO absolutely essential - accidental in the original
Do you mean where the accompaniment, or at least one of the lines in the accompaniment, rises by successive semitones, just before the chorus?
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Re: Got My First Harp

Post by Nanohedron »

benhall.1 wrote:
Nanohedron wrote:that one little bittersweet - and IMO absolutely essential - accidental in the original
Do you mean where the accompaniment, or at least one of the lines in the accompaniment, rises by successive semitones, just before the chorus?
Yes - although the chords actually rise by diatonic values, until the bolded part of the line, "the baffled king composing hallelujah". That was the challenging part to be solved. :)

My version follows the usual tradition of arpeggios as backup to the tune. It's bare-bones with no solid chords, but I might flesh it out later. But right now it seems to work well enough as-is, and in any case, at this point it's more of a practicing exercise than anything else.

There's a version out there - I forget whose - where that chromatic bit is abandoned altogether for a diatonic approach instead, and although it's a logical enough variation, I was surprised because the accompaniment was piano, so there were no constraints to force such a change. I can't speak to the performer's motivations for it, but I found it disappointing and too bland for me ever to go there. For me it's gotta be Cohen's way, or not at all.
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Re: Got My First Harp

Post by cat »

Ouch! However, bear in mind you dont have to use all your fingers...for "folk" playing, and all... Maybe you even have another digit or appendage somewhere to substitute. :boggle:

I sprained my L wrist 2 weeks before Thanksgiving and couldnt play fiddle for 3 months. But I could play harp - as it doesnt necessarily require wrists. Ya win some and lose some.. :)

Sharpen a note a half step by pushing down on the soundboard at the bottom of the string.
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Re: Got My First Harp

Post by Nanohedron »

cat wrote:Sharpen a note a half step by pushing down on the soundboard at the bottom of the string.
I know I asked for advice, but I'm not so sure I'm willing to go that far!
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Re: Got My First Harp

Post by cat »

Now that I think, this is wire technique and prbly doesnt work on nylon. :oops:
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Re: Got My First Harp

Post by Nanohedron »

cat wrote:Now that I think, this is wire technique and prbly doesnt work on nylon. :oops:
In an attempt to sharpen by a half step, early on I tried stopping strings with the back of a fingernail - much as one does with the sarangi, morin khuur, gusle, and similar - but stopping a harp string (nylon, anyway) and getting good tone requires much more pressure than can be be gotten with the fingernail approach. Out there is the odd occasional contrivance or two, made by home inventors, that you can wear on your finger to supposedly do the same basic job - but since I don't see the general concept endorsed on most makers' websites, I'm not convinced of their efficacy, and anyhow they look as if they'd be more in the way than helpful. I'll hold off on that for the foreseeable future, thanks.

I'm still in no hurry to get sharping levers just yet. There are other fish to fry.
"Time is the wisest counselor of all." - Pericles

"I remain not entirely convinced of it." - Nano
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