Some general, non-technique related thoughts on ways to stay pain-free while playing the harp. Please note: I am not a medical professional! 🙂
A look at Alphonse Hasselman’s lovely “Petite Berceuse“. In the key of C and playable on a 25 string harp, the sheet music is in the public domain and can be found at archive.org – https://bit.ly/2Jo2aY9
Is playing a separate pattern in each hand a challenge for you? In this episode of Harp Tuesday I offer some ideas of how to coordinate playing with both hands at the same time, using as an example a small section from my arrangement of The Skye Boat Song.
You might also find this episode useful: http://www.joshlayne.com/harptuesday/ep-110-coordinating-two-hands-contrary-motion-and-practicing/
My arrangement of The Skye Boat Song is available as a PDF at http://www.joshlayne.com/store/
“To Zanarkand” is a beautiful melody by Nobuo Uematsu from the video game Final Fantasy X. I plan to record a music video of this sometime this summer and I still need to practice the lever changes towards the end of the piece – join me as I work on them!
In this episode of Harp Tuesday I use the left hand pattern in Kim Robertson’s arrangement of Fauré’s Pavane to talk about three things to do to make an up and down left hand pattern sound as smooth and flowing as possible.
Kim Robertson’s Celtic Harp Solos is an excellent book. Your favourite harp music retailer will probably have a copy (or could obtain one for you). For example: https://gourd.com/robertsonbooks.html
It’s also available as a PDF download: https://harpcolumn.com/music/all-music/artists/kim-robertson/celtic-harp-solos/
Relaxation is so important when playing any instrument – both for speed and to remain injury and pain free. Making sure your fingers don’t stay clenched into the palm when they aren’t playing is one key to staying relaxed. In this episode I talk about how to achieve that (including using a rubber band as an aid!) and demonstrate how it looks.
Finding patterns in music is such a powerful tool! In this episode I analyze a section from Einaudi’s “Primavera” as an example. Whether you want to memorize a piece or just improve your fluency while playing from sheet music, looking for and finding patterns will serve you well 🙂
A quick look at how to play a 3 against 4 rhythm. I did a similar episode on 2 against 3, using Debussy’s First Arabesque as an example: http://www.joshlayne.com/harptuesday/ep-124-playing-2-vs-3-rhythms-in-debussys-1st-arabesque/
A bunch of sharps or flats in the key signature at the start of a piece? Here’s how to figure out what key you’re in! 🙂
I have several episodes on chords that might also be useful:
A bit of a ramble about fingerings! When can we and can we not trust our hands to tell us when a fingering is bad or good?
As promised, here’s the link to Hasselman’s “Petite Berceuse“ at the harp archives.
Normally, when we play a harmonic on the harp it sounds an octave higher.
But it’s possible to play harmonics that sound an octave and a 5th higher, or 2 octaves, or 2 octaves+ 3rd, 2 octaves+ 5th, etc.
In this episode I demonstrate a technique I worked on recently to facilitate these extended harmonics that’s different from the way we normally play harmonics. Hope you enjoy 🙂 Would love to hear from you if you use an unusual physical approach when playing harmonics!
The final episode of my look at arranging the Skye Boat Song:
And here’s the music video:
A look at Barbara Brundage’s wonderful arrangement of Themes from Scheherazade for lever harp.
You can buy it at https://www.harpcenter.com/product/pdf-download-brundage-class2-scheherazade/ or as part of Barbara Brundage’s collection “Classics on Request #2” https://www.harpcenter.com/product/pdf-download-brundage-class2-scheherazade/
Hope you enjoy! Thanks to one of my patrons for the suggestion – I wasn’t aware of this arrangement and it’s beautiful and a lot of fun to play 🙂 You, too, can become my patron and support Harp Tuesday at https://www.patreon.com/joshlayne
Happy 2019 everyone! I’m busy finishing my annual New Year’s Improv video, and I thought what better subject for today’s Harp Tuesday episode than a look at improvisation. I offer two concrete ideas to spark your creativity and get you improvising in 2019 🙂
You might also enjoy episode 70
And here’s a playlist of my various improv videos
In this episode of Harp Tuesday I talk about ways to practice playing fast downward arpeggios – using Samuel Pratt’s classical “The Little Fountain” as my example!
And I did a Slow Motion Monday episode from a different angle:
In this episode I show how to learn an easy version of Oh Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel / Veni, Veni Emmanuel. Find the free sheet music at http://www.joshlayne.com/emmanuel
In this episode of Harp Tuesday I look at how to play/finger the opening of Handel’s “Passacaille” (as transcribed by Tiny Béon).
The Passacaille is the last movement from Handel’s Suite in G minor, HWV 432
I talk quite a bit about finger independence throughout this episode – check out Harp Tuesday ep. 23
I’m home from my fall 2018 European tour and ready to get back into recording Harp Tuesday episodes! Here’s a look at a short section from Debussy’s 1st Arabesque that features two different places where you have to be very careful to avoid buzzing!
In this episode of Harp Tuesday I take a look at a fun pattern from Lauren Scott’s interesting new book, Adventures for Lever Harp
A year ago I bought a beautiful new Camac “Excalibur”. I did a video talking about it when I first got it and I thought it would be fun to do something a year later (spoiler alert, I’m still in love 🙂
In this episode I talk about problem solving as I try to make a section easier at the end of Debussy’s “Prelude” (from his Suite Bergamasque).
A quick look at left hand muffling with open octaves. Also check out Episode 24.
A real-time look at adapting for lever harp the first of six “Noels” by Marcel Tournier. Tournier wrote these for pedal harp, and there’s a certain amount of modulation going on in this Noel. Still, having played through it a couple times I’m hopeful that I can adapt it for lever harp – join me for the journey and lets see if it works out! 🙂
I did a follow up Slow Motion Monday video:
I’ll be arranging the Skye Boat Song over several episodes, starting with this real time look today. Hope you enjoy!
In this episode of Harp Tuesday I offer a few practical tips on tuning your harp. For some additional information on tuning, see Harp Tuesday ep. 5
Some useful links:
Great set of articles about all sort of harp maintenance by Mike Lewis, here’s the link to the article on regulation:
Loveland levers (via musicmakers): https://www.harpkit.com/mm5/pdf/Instructions/Lever-1Regulation.pdf
In this viewer requested episode I offer some tips and tricks to playing orchestral harp parts, written for the pedal harp, on a lever harp.
I do this by going over the harp part to Rimsky-Korsakov’s Capriccio Espagnol. You can download the sheet music and follow along.
In this episode I look at how to play the polyrhythm of 2 against 3 using examples from Debussy’s First Arabesque.
You can find Renie’s transcription of the Arabesque at IMSLP – http://imslp.org/wiki/2_Arabesques_(Debussy%2C_Claude) (Look for the “Arrangements and Transcriptions” tab).
In this episode of Harp Tuesday I use the Irish slip jig The Butterfly as a starting point to talk about fingering and technique. Music for the Butterfly and 1000s of other traditional tunes can be found at https://thesession.org/tunes
Sign up to my email newsletter to get a free PDF copy with my suggested fingerings!
In this episode oI talk about chord progressions and working on the ability to automatically go up and down a chord sequence (root, 1st inversion, 2nd inversion). As a companion to this episode you might find these two episodes helpful:
In this episode I talk about how to play a 4,3,2,1,2,3,4,3,2,1 pattern – a great basic exercise and good workout for the fingers!
In this first episode I take a look at a beautiful piece called Alfonso XII el Sabio (13th century Spain) from Kim Robertson’s sheet music book “Celtic Harp Solos . (I wonder if in fact it’s music associated with Alfonso X el Sabio).
EDIT – Thanks to Therese Honey in the YouTube comments – it is indeed from Alfonso X “Cantigas de Santa Maria” This is number 166 “Como póden per sas culpas”. Check out this site which has sheet music for the entire set of songs: http://www.cantigasdesantamaria.com/csm/166#music/r
With a rather hypnotic tune and great rhythms this is a very fun piece to play!
(Celtic Harp Solos is an excellent book. Your favourite harp music retailer will probably have a copy (or could obtain one for you). It also appears to be available as a PDF download. For example:
And check out Kim Robertson’s website.
In episode 117 I demonstrate how to play Marcel Tournier’s beautiful composition Soupir on the lever harp. Written for the pedal harp, it works very well on the lever harp as well! Download my adaption for free. (Want to play this on the pedal harp? The sheet music I used, sans my notation, can be found at archive.org)
(Note that in the video I’d forgotten to circle the low Gb at the end to indicate it’s to be played as an enharmonic (F#). The PDF link has above has the correct notation).
In episode 118 you get a look at me learning Soupir as I try to get it in shape to record it:
In this episode of Harp Tuesday I talk about my experience using the forScore app on an iPad air in place of physical sheet music. (I’ve found it very useful).
I mentioned three places to find free, public domain music online:
And for traditional music – The Session
In this episode I continue my look at electric harps (playing a “Firefly 2” electric harp I bought last year from Wickford Harps / Dick Ranlet http://wickharps.blogspot.ca/) with a focus on looper pedals and some of the things you can do with a looper pedal!
In this episode of Harp Tuesday I talk about and demonstrate the “Firefly 2” electric harp I bought last year from Wickford Harps / Dick Ranlet as well as talk about electric harps in general.
I will be doing a follow-up episode demonstrating using a looper pedal – if you have any questions you’d like answered let me know!
Video where Dick Ranlet demonstrates his two part harp system –
In this episode I take a look at a contrary motion exercise you could use to practice coordinating two hands at once. But the practice principle I talk about can be applied to anything you’re working on!
“Pistache” (Pistachio) is one of a collection of pieces by Bernard Andres called “Epices” (Spices) where every pieces is based on a spice (Paprika, Cinnamon, Vanilla, etc.)
Pistache is probably my favourite from book one of the collection, and in this episode I take a look at it. Pistache has a bunch of cool effect/extended techniques, some fun rhythm stuff, and is just overall a blast to play 🙂
Welcome to the 100th episode of Harp Tuesday! 100 is a big number and I feel proud to have reached it! 🙂 Thanks to all of you who watch and comments on my videos – you’re the reason I’ve made it to #100!
In this episode I offer some thoughts and advice on buying a harp, with an emphasis on advice for someone looking to buy their very first harp.
I hope this is helpful, and thanks for watching!
The complete episode is below, but I also split this episode into individual sections if there’s something specific you’re interested in.
1. Introduction https://youtu.be/lY2PVTGFb-A
2. General advice/synopsis https://youtu.be/znZ6D3Pyss0
3. Three categories of harps https://youtu.be/IINfg-emaQo
4. Celtic harps – how many strings? https://youtu.be/8m-vBBdJY7c
5. Celtic harps – do I need levers? https://youtu.be/OrqoGgxEc8I
6. Build quality and ergonomics https://youtu.be/JcdPXdPgG6k
7. Sound quality https://youtu.be/Q_hj0a-OvRQ
8. Strings – gut or nylon? https://youtu.be/P1xQUAT1mDw
9. Pedal harps https://youtu.be/9tz-M-EvqCQ
10. Other type of harps https://youtu.be/S87aHF79BiE
In this six part series I take a look at my Fantasy on Greensleeves, the lever harp version. Be sure to check out my Arranging Greensleeves project page for more info, or to buy the sheet music!
Intro and theme:
Practice tips/Variation 1
Lever changes, Rhythm, and more – variation 3
Bridge and Variation 4
Ending and tremolos
“I feel different” is one of my favourite compositions by Dutch harpist/composer Anne Vanschothorst. It felt like a great subject for my return to Harp Tuesday after a long break due to my European trip, etc.
Feels great to be back, and on almost exactly the five year anniversary of the very first Harp Tuesday episode!
Hope you enjoy – I’ll be doing a couple follow up Slow Motion Monday videos from this piece – look for that next week.
And of course check out her YouTube channel! https://www.youtube.com/user/annevans…
In this special edition of Harp Tuesday from the Zagreb Harp Centre in Croatia (http://zagrebharpfestival.com) I take a look at the “Rondo” from Bochsa’s “Air and Rondo” – the first piece in Samuel Milligan’s “Medieval to Modern volume 2”.
Last episode I talked about the Air: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zo8Nf…
Was wonderful to record surrounded by all these amazing Camac harps (http://www.camac-harps.com/)
In this special edition of Harp Tuesday from the Zagreb Harp Centre in Croatia (http://zagrebharpfestival.com) I take a look at the “Air” from Bochsa’s “Air and Rondo” – the first piece in Samuel Milligan’s “Medieval to Modern volume 2”.
Next episode will look at the “Rondo” 🙂
Was wonderful to record surrounded by all these amazing Camac harps (http://www.camac-harps.com/)
We so often play chords with a break/roll, even if it’s very slight. It’s good to be able to play chords with every note sounding at the exact same time – here I offer a few thoughts on hand position and finger action when playing 4 finger solid chords.
Here’s a “Slow Motion Monday” video of me playing chords:
I talk about learning En Roulant from Betty Paret’s First Harp Book.
Among other things I discuss counting/clapping a 6/8 rhythm and looking for patterns when learning a new piece!
In this episode I have fun slowing down three short clips. To start is a look at a right hand scale, followed by the last page of Grandjany’s “Rhapsody”, and finally a short section from Anne Vanschothorst’s “A Bird Came Flying”
Harpist and composer Bernard Andrès has written a lot of music for harp, here in these episodes I look at three pieces from his book Ribambelle – a set of 10 short works for lever or pedal harp
In this episode of Harp Tuesday I take a close up look at playing a left hand pattern often referred to as an “Alberti Bass”. (For example, C, G, E, G, C, G, E, G, etc.)
From orchestral playing to harp ensembles to duets, playing with other people is a lot of fun! In this episode of Harp Tuesday I talk about two aspects of playing with others and give some specific exercises you can practice on your own.
In this episode of Harp Tuesday I finally (!) finish my look at how to read music. In December of 2010, for my fifth episode of Harp Tuesday, I talked about how to decipher notes on the printed page and translate them into which strings to play on the harp… In this episode I talk about the other aspect of written music – Rhythm!
This was a tricky episode to put together, and I’m still not sure how much sense it makes, but if you’re trying to learn to read music hopefully this will help!
You can download the PDF sheet showing what shapes equal what note durations (Whole note, half note, etc.) here.
In this episode of Harp Tuesday I talk about some ways to try and make playing with both hands at the same time feel easier…
In these episodes of Harp Tuesday I look at a piece that I learned as “Variations sur un theme de Mozart”, playable on the Celtic harp and edited by Odette le Dentu. However, it turns out it may have nothing to do with Mozart! Thanks to a youtube comment I found the original on IMSLP – it’s the first of 4 Airs and variations by French composer Martin Dalvimare.
You can find the score and play along at IMSLP
Opening theme and first variation
Variations 5 and 6
A chord/jumping exercise! Download the free PDF here!
In this episode of Harp Tuesday I talk about creating simple accompaniment patterns for the left hand based on chords, and offer some ideas on improv. Both draw heavily from a firm knowledge of chord structure – I did an episode on chords that might prove useful.
I use Auld Lang Syne as the demonstration piece for this episode. I’m reading from a handwritten lead sheet (chord symbols + right hand tune). Download the PDF here.
The section on improvisation starts at 10:22
Note that since this episode I’ve been doing more and more free improvisation – here are a couple shorter improvs and an improv concert:
In this episode of Harp Tuesday, I try to arranged Bach’s Prelude No. 1 in C from the Well-Tempered Clavier for the lever harp.
And you can watch me figure out the lever changes in real time:
I used a public domain setting of the piece from Mutopia
Here is a scan of the completed version with all my markings – download the images by right-clicking and selecting “save image as…”
In this episode I talk about Bach’s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” (from Cantata BWV 147)
The beauty of virtual sheet music is I can easily offer a whole bunch of different versions!
So pick the one you prefer, or download them all!
The arrangement is for the public domain, so feel free to copy and distribute as much as you would like.
(All files are PDFs)
The only difference between the two versions is a low B in the bass, and the markings for the lever/pedal change. The next two versions include the low B.
In this episode of Harp Tuesday I take a quick look at “Two Bagpipe Tunes” from Mildred Dilling’s “Old Tunes for New Harpists”.
In this episode I take a look at Deborah Friou’s wonderful arrangement of Scarborough Fair
I recorded a music video of A Bird Came Flying last year.
The piece can be broken into 5 parts, here are time links to when I start talking about each part:
Start – Page 1 1:50
Page 2 12:15
Page 3 18:56
Pages 4+5 24:50
Page 6 30:15
Information on ordering the music book of A Bird Came Flying can be found here: http://www.abirdcameflying.com/order.htm
You can watch Anne Vanschothorst’s beautiful music video of one of the other pieces in the book (I Feel Different) here
Here’s audio from a concert I gave last summer of A Bird Comes Flying + I Feel Different – https://soundcloud.com/harpandsoul/harpist-josh-layne
For the first Harp Tuesday episode of 2013 I tried something new – a virtual duet of the Bach/Gounod Ave Maria.
I’ve recorded both parts to the Bach/Gounod Ave Maria, with the idea being that you can pick a part to play (tune/accompaniment) and then playing along with the video of the corresponding part – a virtual duet!
The tune is quite easy – just single notes for the right hand. It can be played on the lever harp (there are two lever changes, but since the left hand isn’t playing they should be fairly painless…)
The accompaniment (Bach’s Prelude No. 1) is harder, and involves a number of pedal changes. I’m also not sure how easy it will be to try and play along with the tune, since the tune has a lot of long notes, where there is no way of knowing whether we’re together or not… Would love to hear your experiences if you try it!
You can download a PDF of the sheet music. As long as it isn’t too confusing, I’d suggest trying to play from the score, which has both parts. This lets you see what the other part is supposed to be doing 🙂
I take another look at the basic finger/hand motions involved in playing the harp, including some close-ups that give a clear picture of what I’m talking about!
An in-depth look at Ank van Campen’s Variations on a Welsh Carol
Looking at 4-finger trills
I talk about using the metronome and some of the things that it can and can’t do
I talk about how to do lever changes on the folk harp
I talk about getting a good tone
I talk about ornamentation – turns, graces notes, trills, mordents, etc.
This wikipedia page is a good place to start exploring ornamentation
In this episode of Harp Tuesday I talk about three different types of exercises – scales, finger independence, and arpeggios. I give a somewhat in-depth look at arpeggios starting at 14:26
In this episode I try and cover some fingering basics and rules
In this episode of Harp Tuesday I talk about dealing tricky rhythms – with a look at sections from Flowers in the Valley, the Sarabande from Bach’s Partitia no. 1, the Interlude from Britten’s Ceremony of Carols, and The Blue Dove.
I talk about looking at patterns as a way to help memorize music, and demonstrate by memorizing “Flowers in the Valley” from Betty Paret’s “First Harp Book”.
I talk about chords – some very basic theory (what is a chord, anyway?), inversion, some possible exercises.
I had a lot of fun with this series of episodes – all about arranging Greensleeves. I ended up with an arrangement/composition that I really like, and it’s neat to see it happen bit by bit, including in the first episode, in real time!
And the music video!
In this episode of Harp Tuesday I demonstrate learning the Old English Country Dance from Mildred Dilling’s “Old Tunes for New Harpists“.
Still one of my favourite episodes 🙂
A look at both thumb and fourth finger slides:
A two part look at muffling and dampening techniques:
Plus check out episode 135:
And these Slow Motion Monday videos:
In this episode of Harp Tuesday, I talk about playing 4-fingered chords, and working on finger independence:
In this episode of Harp Tuesday I talk about learning “O’Carolan’s Air” from Betty Paret’s First Harp Book.
In this episode of Harp Tuesday I go back to look at some basics, and talk about how to cross over/under to play scales and similar passages.
In this episode of Harp Tuesday I talk about glissando or glisses. The gliss is such a quintessential harp sound – but here I also explore some of the more unusual glisses that are possible:
Arm and wrist movement:
How to change a harp string:
I later did a follow up to this episode, plus an episode on changing wire strings:
And low octave gut strings:
In this episode I talk about harmonics:
In this episode I talk about how to play one of the quintessential sounds on the harp – the rolled or broken chord:
Your second harp lesson. In this episode I talk about playing multiple notes at the same time (chords) and some fingering basics (connecting, etc.)
In this episode I cover two topics – tuning your harp and learning to read music. I’ve also included the conclusion to my look at learning to read music, Harp Tuesday ep.
Your first harp lesson! I talk about some basics to get you started playing the harp: