[Harp-L] Irish Harp and Mouth Harp Combine

This week I've been recording for a new album with Irish Harp player
Anne-Marie O'Farrell, with a working title of Harp to Harp. We took time out
to make a couple of quick YouTube videos: 


Give Me Your Hand


The Humours of Tuaimgréine



Aside from (sort of) sharing a name, the two instruments have a similar
gentle acoustic volume, which makes playing together really pleasing. And
I?ve learned from the week with Anne-Marie that there?s another significant
parallel between the stringed harp and the free-reed harp: like most
harmonicas, the stringed harp is essentially diatonic, with each 7 note
do-re-mi scale repeating through the octaves. This raises the same issue as
we harmonica players face: how to play chromatic music on it, with all the
sharps and flats?


On the harmonica there are many approaches, from simply holding two
diatonics a semitone apart, to the common slider chromatic, to overblowing,
half-valving, the HFC chromatic, magnetic pitch lowering, and more recently
the x-reed types...  Similarly on the stringed harp several angles of attack
to the chromaticity problem have been tried. The main ones in use today are
incorporating hand-operated levers which shift the pitch of each string up a
semitone, and the full-blown pedal harp. 


The latter is the huge harp you often see in orchestras. It has several foot
pedals and an intricate metal linkage mechanism that can lower and raise the
pitch of all strings without the player having to lift his/her hands off the
strings. It?s a massive beast! Manoeuvring it through my house on its
special trolley was quite a task, with several 3 point turns into the
doorways. I joked to Anne-Marie that you almost require a driving license to
move that thing! 


Apart from the convenient size of our harps, I thought another advantage we
small harpists have is that we can bend notes, and the stringed harps can?t.
But that?s not true, as I discovered when I discovered the modern Chinese
pedal harp, the Konghou: www.harpspectrum.org/folk/Chinese_Harp_Konghou


An updating of their ancient harps, it has two rows of diatonic strings and
allows the player to bend one set whilst playing the other, as well as
having 7 or more foot pedals. It?s a lovely surprise to hear that
traditional harp sound with bent notes. You can hear a clip here:



When I mentioned my Harp to Harp album project to Roger Trobridge of the
NHL, he reminded me that it had been done before ? by the great Tommy Reilly
and Skaila Kanga on a couple of albums in the 1960s. I don?t know why I?d
forgotten, as it was Tommy?s brilliant playing of Irish tunes on the
chromatic on those old records that made me pick up the chrom for trad
music. Roger has done a detailed discography on this side of Tommy?s playing
here: www.tommyreilly.co.uk/disco2.htm



 <http://www.brendan-power.com/> www.brendan-power.com



This archive was generated by a fusion of Pipermail 0.09 (Mailman edition) and MHonArc 2.6.8.