A compilation of markings used in the music of Bernard Andrès. Provided as a free download to harpists worldwide. Includes video demonstrations of some effects. If you perform the harp compositions of Andrés, you'll eventually need this guide. As musicians we are to follow the dictates of the music. There's no need to guess what terms mean, especially when the composer is still living and has given us a clear indication of his intent. Find the German translation here. FREE DOWNLOAD
Compiled and translated by Isabelle Perrin and Barbara Fackler with the intention that this collection be shared freely among harpists at no cost. It should never be offered for sale. Many of these effects may be indicated in more than one manner. The words and/or symbols may be used together or independently of each other. All effects using a tuning key refer to a wooden handle with a metal shaft.
Because we do not guess at rhythm, notes, dynamics or tempi, we encourage our fellow harpists to treat these new and unique notations with the same care as is given to other elements of music. We encourage harpists not to guess, but execute them as intended.
Some of the effects cataloged here may be heard on the recording Bernard Andrès played by Isabelle Perrin. Hortensia 3003842 ARC 321.
Editing assistance was generously provided by Joanne Glover, Delaine Fedson, and Thea Hansen. Graphics design by Augie Fackler. Demonstrations filmed by Kelly Yousoufian of Michigan Harp Center. Digital video editing by Dane Wester.
click here for example movies that provide further clarification
Rot und Schwarz is the theme for a series of skill building preludes for harp. In the same way that we often simplify map reading, by not naming every street that we'll pass on the way to our destination, note reading is simplified when new harpists can quickly identify where all the black and red strings are notated on the staff. These are useful for teachers as well as those learning on their own. Once these come easily, try my arrangement of Ode to Joy. Felicitation, Spring Song, Still Waters and Meditation, all found in Short and Sweet Volume III: Accessible Solos would also be a great place to use your new skill. Look for music in the Pretty Quick Music catalog that is a Skill Building version and dig in.
The title pretty much sums it up. To read notes well, you need to understand how the staff maps out your instrument. It's a beautiful system that shows you the location of each note on your instrument. Pay attention to how the notes move, up or down on the staff. Learn the watch for relationships as notes move, is it moving stepwise or skipping around, going up or down? When you read a map, do you need to know the name of every street you pass on your way to the next turn, or do you just need to know how many blocks to travel and in what direction? Note reading works in a similar fashion. This free one page music worksheet reminds you what you need to know.
Each note on the staff tells you two things about itself: 1) what it sounds like (the pitch of the note, and the string it is played on and 2) how long the note should last (the duration of the note). Where the note lays on the staff (which line or space) tells you what string to play and what the note will sound like. What the note looks like tells you how long the note should last. Download this free one page (PDF) tutorial that explains note values and how to interpret them. 32KB
One of my favorite things about the Suzuki method is that it teaches the placing of all 4 fingers very early on. Learning to do this teaches you to find a good healthy hand position. If you've worked through this and the study on root position triads, try out the lever-free version of Grieg's Morning Song or Saltarello (recorded on my CD). You might also consider Irish Love Song and Meditation from Short and Sweet Volume III: Accessible Solos. It's a lot more interesting to fine tune your new skills with music you enjoy than an etude and when you're done, you've got music you can play for family and friends. If you're up for a more serious workout, grab the Lariviére etudes (from ISMLP or there's a link here later on) and start at page 6.
Learning to play thirds is the beginning of being able to add harmony to your music. It is important to learn to bring both the thumb and second finger off the string at exactly the same moment and to be able to recognize the interval of a third when the notes are not played as a chord but as individual notes following one another. Work through this short study until you can control your fingers reliably. Then, you're ready to work on music that incorporates thirds like Kelvingrove (used in the Gather worship book) and Sweetheart Waltz, part of Short and Sweet Volume III: Accessible Solos. Silent Night, Hosanna, Loud Hosanna, or the Beethoven's Ode to Joy might be good choices for you if you can manage this study well. If you are comfortable with placing three notes in a row, then you could also learn Hymn of Thanksgiving or Children of the Heavenly Father from The Sacred Lever Harp (available from Vanderbilt Music) or Ron Harris' In This Very Room.
If you are consistent in your habits as a beginner you'll have an easier time as you attempt more difficult music. There aren't too many chord shapes for a harpist to know. Because our instrument works chromatically differently than other instruments, a minor third and major third are virtually the same to our hands. Once you realise this and memorize the typical fingerings for each interval, large chords and arpeggios become much easier to master.
Chords may be inverted, meaning the note on the bottom is no longer the root. Once you've learned to dependably find a root position chord, it's time to learn how to find the inversions. This prepares you to learn Ode to Joy (version C), Come Thou Almighty King, Christ the Lord Has Risen Today, Fairest Lord Jesus, Jesus Loves Me Manoah and O Sacred Head. You're also probably ready to start learning to read lead sheets. Work this in different keys to learn the chords that commonly ocurr in keys you'll use a lot on lever harp.
Download the sheet music for these keys after you've learned the one in C major (link above):
key of D
key of F
key of Eb
key of G
The beautiful thing about harp is that we can memorize the shapes of commonly used chords which simplifies note reading. Root position chords always have the same shape to the hand on a harp, no matter the key. Finding chords of three notes is much easier than four note chords, so a little extra practice finding big chords is often necessary.
This is a short study, to be practiced over a long period of time that will help you memorize the shape of a four note root position chord. When you are ready to work on all the inversions possible with four note chords, grab the Lariviére etudes and look at page 5, which offers enough exercises that you'll be busy for a long time. The exercise on page 5 of the Lariviére book can be played on lever harps, there are plenty of others for pedal harp only. 76 KB
Included are two (2) free tutorials on reading lead sheets that are designed with harpists in mind. Learning to read standard lead sheets opens up limiless possibilities for repertoire, even to the novice. Also including on this page is a list of commonly occurring chords for commonly used key signatures. Nearly all of my Beginning-in-the-Middle students learn to read lead sheets sometime in their first two years of study. I teach them to use standard lead sheet notation so that they can read any lead sheet they find. Once you've got the hang of this, check out the lead sheet collections in our Short Cuts collections of lead sheets for harps, with special sets aimed at lever harp including reminders for lever shifts.
Lever Tutor You don't need to be clever to flip levers quickly, you just need to know how to think about them. Here's a couple of tutorials to get you started.
The Lariviére Exercises and Etudes is available as a free download. This is a great collections of etudes, aimed at pedal harp but some can be played on lever harp.
Learning to replace strings on your harp can be daunting until you've tied the knot enough times that you remember it. Harp Spectrum used to have a decent article (with pictures) that will remind you how to do this. If you can find it, please let me know. There's a helpful movie at The Harp Herald about string knots.
Sometimes thinking enharmonically makes a passage easier to play, either on pedal harp or lever harp. This webpage includes a (hopefully growing) collection of hints that will help you find ways to make enharmonic spellings simplify and expand your harp playing. Examples from harp sheet music included.
Why Britten chose to put the harp notation in small notes and the piano in large is a mystery. This insert makes it easier to read this in poor light, so common in many churches. (pedal harp)
edited with Elizabeth Volpé, this edition repells some of the chords to allow for better chord shapes. It's easier to read, easier to play but sounds exactly the same. If Tchaikovsky understood harp better, he'd have done this himself. Download the PDF with the above link for edited part.
Thanks to Jaye, the Winged Harper, these plans are well laid out and easy to execute.
Here's plans for a DIY raincoat for a small harp. This should be enough for most medium to small lever harps. Download the PDF with the free plans.
hints for how to stay in shape if your time is limited.
Lighting matters: Why should you care about a stand light?
Winter is hard on harps. Check humidity in your studio and maintain a healthy humidity for your harps. Lack of humidity can cause tuning pins to slip, gut strings to dry out and more serious complications if left unchecked. Read some reviews of humidifiers and find a solution for your space that works. Your harp will be happier and so will you.