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wally
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   Posted 2/23/2004 8:57 PM (GMT -6)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
I'm working on a piece for voice, and I think it would sound better with harp accompaniment than piano, but I'm not quite sure exactly what the harp can do, and I'd rather find out now then after I've arranged something that no one would be able to play. Does anyone just have something fairly basic so I can get an idea of the limitations of the instrument? Thanks.
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RHall
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   Posted 2/23/2004 10:27 PM (GMT -6)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Check out some orchestration books.  Many times they will have a whole chapter devoted to the harp.  "The Technique of Orchestration" by Keny Kennan is a good one (or the Adler book is good too).


Good Luck


R Hall
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Peter Thomsen
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   Posted 2/24/2004 1:52 AM (GMT -6)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Unlike the piano, the harp has only 7 strings per octave. A harpist can grab larger intervals than a pianist.
The strings are tuned in C flat major.
Accidentals are handled by 7 pedals, one pedal for each scale step.
Each of the 7 pedals has 3 positions: flat (initial position), natural (raising the scale step a half-tone), sharp (raising the scale step two half-tones)
If e. g. the 'A' pedal is put in the 'natural' position, the pedal will raise all the [A flat] strings to [A natural].

Certain chord progressions are not possible unless the player is given time to re-tune the strings by using the pedals.

There are two categories of music notation:
1. Notation of the music you are supposed to hear.
2. Directions to the performer about how to play on the instrument. Examples: piano fingerings, bowing in string notation, TAB in guitar notation.

Be aware that in harp notation the use of accidentals belongs to category 2.
In harp notation it makes sense to have [A flat] and [G sharp] simultaneously.

See the attached example.

Peter
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korneel.bernolet
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   Posted 2/24/2004 5:49 AM (GMT -6)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
indeed.

the default tuning of the harp is:
Cb - Db - Eb - Fb - Gb - Ab - Bb.

you can raise 2 times a half-tone (natural and sharp).
!! if you change for example the Cb to C#, it changes ALL the C#'s in the work.
So you have to give the retunings every time you change a string.

Good book: "The Study of Orchestration, 3rd revised edition" (by Samuel Adler), like R. Hall said. (+/- $71 or €52 on Amazon.com)


good luck!
grtz


 
Korneel Bernolet
Finale 2003a - Finale 2004 (just) - Pentium III - Windows 2000 Professional - Roland XP-30

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wally
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   Posted 2/24/2004 7:44 AM (GMT -6)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Thanks for your help everyone... it's good to see exactly what I'm getting into here.
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Dan Powers
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   Posted 2/24/2004 9:50 AM (GMT -6)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
There's a very good book called "Harp Scoring" by Stanley Chaloupka, written for composers and arrangers. It's hard to find but worth the effort. I just did a Google search and found it at www.harp.com.


Dan Powers
“Workaholic? Brokers and salesmen are workaholics. Artists are obsessed. There’s a difference.” --Edward Sorel

Post Edited (danpowers) : 2/24/2004 2:53:50 PM GMT

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Bill Stevens
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   Posted 2/24/2004 6:56 PM (GMT -6)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
If you want to learn about notation for the harp, nothing beats sitting beside a harp player for a half-hour and getting feedback, verbal and aural, on what you've written. Harp music looks sorta like piano music on the page but the harp requires a different approach.
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Bill Stevens
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   Posted 2/24/2004 7:01 PM (GMT -6)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
P.S. to my post above: you need to understand that the harpist changes keys by pushing the pedals down or letting them up. Good players can do those changes on the fly pretty well, but you have to be aware of what is required and not write something that calls for two right feet. That's probably not very clear, but if you watch a harpist you'll understand what I mean.
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wally
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   Posted 2/24/2004 7:11 PM (GMT -6)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Yeah, I understand what you mean... I did a little extra research, D, C and B pedals for the left foot, E, F, G, and A for the right,
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Matthew Hindson
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   Posted 2/24/2004 10:04 PM (GMT -6)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Did Columbus Bring | Enough Food Going to America
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Barbara B.
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   Posted 2/24/2004 10:31 PM (GMT -6)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Very good, Matthew! Also, keep in mind that texture is very different--the harp sounds well with chord voicings that may sound pretty thin on the piano. Also harpists only use 8 fingers--the little fingers are too short to reach the strings with contemporary harp technique, so if you want to write chords with more than 8 notes you have to allow time for rolling them, usually hand over hand, like left-right-left.

There is a lot of interest these days in the lever or celtic or Irish harp, which uses hand levers instead of pedals to make the semitones and is much more restricted in chromatic capability.
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Ron.
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   Posted 2/25/2004 9:32 AM (GMT -6)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
And don't forget to notate the pedal changes. There's a library you can load that helps set up the notation for the pedals. Sorry I don't recall the name, but it's obvious when you see it.

One of our exercises in orchestration class was to notate highly chromatic passages for the harp. The point was to require as few pedal changes as possible. The fewer changes, the higher the grade. It's entirely possible you might need B# and Cb in a passage because of the changes before and following it. It makes writing for the harp a really interesting challenge.


Ron
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tbmartin
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   Posted 2/25/2004 10:14 AM (GMT -6)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
That's interesting! In a recent thread, someone suggested visiting the Major Orchestra Librarians Association (www.mola-inc.org) and look at their "Music Preparation Guidelines for Orchestra Music" brochure (click on the "Publications" link). In that brochure, they specifically say "Harp pedaling should be left to the performer."

Is this one of these preference/gray areas? Is it like piano fingerings? Difficult passages somtimes give fingerings as a suggestion, but having every "1-3-5" over every CEG triad would drive everyone crazy?

Any harp players out there? "Inquiring minds what to know!"


Terence
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mrburnout
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   Posted 2/25/2004 10:52 AM (GMT -6)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Regarding "pedling indications" - the majority of harp players I have worked with (as copysit and/or arranger) prefer to do their own pedling - although they really like having any change of notes notated ahead of time (no need to say "Ab to
A#" - "A#" works just fine). Nothing like sitting out for a bunch of bars only to find out that numerous accidentals are looming on the horizon. It is less work (for the writer/copyist) than pedling, is a good courtesy for the performer, and can save a lot of time in a session.
 
Where do I get change for my 2 cents' worth?
 
 
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Ron.
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   Posted 2/25/2004 11:01 AM (GMT -6)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Now I am not a seasoned musician by any stretch, but my take on it is that composers and arrangers should give the musicians credit for knowing how to best play their intruments. However, in the case of the harp the composer/arranger must keep in mind the special requirements of the instrument. Even if s/he does not notate the pedal changes, s/he has to be aware of them so as to avoid having the harpist dancing a jig trying to keep up with several difficult changes that might not be at all necessary. So, if you're aware of them and plan the music, you might as well notate it, right?

(I've only known one harpist and she prefered having the pedals notated, and sometimes would have to correct them--she said.)


Ron
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tbmartin
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   Posted 2/25/2004 11:01 AM (GMT -6)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Sounds like we owe you a couple bucks! Your payback comes when you post a question and somebody else gives you a great, concise answer like you just did.


Terence
Using Finale 2003a, Windows 2000 XP Home

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Barbara B.
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   Posted 2/25/2004 12:38 PM (GMT -6)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
I'm a harpist and I have to agree--please leave it to the performer. Different schools of playing have different conventions about how to write in pedals and even if you know as much about the best spot to prepare a pedal as any harpist does it's really not possible to comply with everyone's idea of how to write in pedalling. Some people feel that left foot should always be written above right foot, others that left foot is always below right foot, etc.

Some people like to prepare pedals at the first possible moment to give them a chance to fix an error, others hate that because you are more likely to play a wrong note if the strings are set too far in advance.

Also, it makes for fewer mistakes in orchestral situations. There's no worse feeling than reading something with the orchestra and not paying much attention to the pedals because the engraver has done a swell job of writing them in for you and then realizing the composer (or whoever) forgot one somewhere because you just played a majorly wrong chord. If nothing is there, you know you need to be alert and watch out for yourself.
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Matthew Hindson
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   Posted 2/25/2004 5:58 PM (GMT -6)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
The Harp Pedalling function in TGTools full version is really excellent for automatically putting in harp pedals, including diagrams.

Another big difference IMHO between piano and harp is that the low notes on the harp have nowhere near the same power as the low notes on the piano. Completely different beasts. Apart from harp crashes, 'thumpy' low parts just don't work on the harp.
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