Kathy Bundock Moore has arranged theory and instructional books for harpists.
How do you decide what to arrange?
I arrange music and write books for different reasons. Certainly, gaps in available harp materials are the biggest reason I write and arrange. If I can’t find what I’m looking for, I write it! My recent beginning harp books for children, Let’s Play the Harp, came from wanting beginning materials similar to children’s easy beginning piano courses, with kids’ songs and activities and lots of brightly colored pictures.
Some of my publications are out of frustration: in my Nutcracker harp part I corrected errors in the existing harp part, made the edition legible, added copious cues, and offered ossia pages for unplayable sections.
Some arrangements are just to please a crowd, and me. At the moment, I’m working on an arrangement of a Josh Turner song because I play a lot of requests by ear, and people seem to love the song.
And then there’s Lady Gaga. I wrote the “Bad Romance” arrangement on a dare!
I also wrote and recorded 12 solo harp arrangements of choir music by Jackson Berkey, keyboard player in the well-known group Mannheim Steamroller. Adapting his beautiful choir music was my biggest and most rewarding challenge.
What’s the most useful origination of your material?
For scholarly works, such as the arrangements of Vivaldi concertos, I use scores. Same with Handel’s Concerto in B-flat—the complete work from the 1860s edition was my starting point. For pop songs, I arrange by ear. Thanks, Mom and Dad.
Can you describe your arranging process? What’s the first step?
I usually sit down and start playing, asking myself, “What would this sound like on a harp?” Then I try a few accompaniments or melodic treatments until something clicks. When I’m done with an arrangement, I always ask my harp students to play through the pieces to help me to adjust the difficulty level and get their input on anything else about the arrangement. Sometimes a student plays a wrong note, which I like better than the one I wrote, and I change my music! I did that in Thumbs Up!
How long does it take you to create an arrangement from idea to publication? What is the most time-consuming part of the process?
The length of time varies greatly from start to finish. The arrangements usually take no time at all. Once I know what I want to accomplish, I am able to work quickly. The longest it has taken me to complete a project, however, is about a year. My Let’s Play the Harp series had lots of trial and error, ranging from buying different printers, changing music fonts, and getting high-quality artwork, to finding a logical progression of the difficulty level.
How have you chosen to publish your arrangements?
Rather than self-publishing, I am lucky enough to have found publishers who had faith in me. It took a few years of sending my first publication, Thumbs Up!, to various publishers before I found FC Publishing, run by Faith (the coincidence here cannot be overlooked!) Carman. She said she’d been looking for a book like mine to use with her own students! After she retired, I hunted for another publisher. Harps Nouveau, run by Kolacny Music, was a perfect fit. I’ve been so lucky to work with these wonderful people.
What’s your advice to someone who would like to start arranging?
That’s a hard question. It’s probably easiest to begin by finding a gap. What have you looked for that you can’t find? Once you’ve found something and written your arrangement, record yourself playing it. How does it sound? Then, once you’ve made changes, have other people check it for you. Have students or other harp professionals read your arrangements and make suggestions. Then, it’s time to investigate distributing your arrangement. Decide if you have the time to devote to self-publishing, or if you would rather try to find a publisher.
What’s the most common mistake amateur arrangers make?
Important to me is accuracy. Because of my background in music theory, I’d also like to share my thoughts based on actual harp arrangements I’ve seen. For arrangers, please check the original before you arrange it. Yes, there is artistic freedom when arranging. But, I’ve seen wrong notes, wrong harmonies, wrong meters, even in Christmas carols!
Inaccurate music editing is a major pet peeve of mine. Please go to a music store and look at many, many published pieces for the same instrumentation as you’re writing for. If you’re publishing multiple-part music, such as harp ensemble music, be sure to provide a score for the conductor. Otherwise, your arrangement is simply unplayable by an ensemble.
Do you have any funny stories pertaining to arranging?
Years ago, one of my young students won a concerto competition. I didn’t know she’d entered a competition at all. Imagine my surprise when she asked me what she should play with the string orchestra! My arrangement of Vivaldi’s Concerto in D-Major was written in one weekend, so that she would have time to learn the harp part. •
For 35 years, Dr. Kathy B. Moore was a professor at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, where she has taught music theory and harp. She is partly retired now, teaching only harp. Dr. Moore received a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in music theory from the Eastman School of Music and a Ph.D. at Michigan State University.
She has played Principal Harp in the Greeley Philharmonic and the Fort Collins Symphony, along with substitute Principal Harp in the Colorado Symphony Orchestra and Colorado Music Festival at Chautauqua.
She became interested in studying the harp at the age of 8 when her mother, a professional harpist, forbade her to touch the harp. That was all the encouragement she needed! By the age of nine, she was studying harp with her mother. Her father was a jazz bassist who played in the original Glenn Miller Band.
Kathy Bundock Moore’s music is available from most harp music retailers.
Method,Theory, and Instructional Books
Let’s Play the Harp, Primer, vol.1, and vol. 2
Levers Up! Thumbs Up!
25 Easy Studies by Alfred Kastner
Music Theory at the Harp, vol. 1–4
A Harpist’s Survival Guide to Glisses
Concertos, Cadenzas, and Orchestral Parts
Concerto in B-Flat by G. F. Handel
Concerto in D-Major for Harp (pedal) and String Orchestra by A. Vivaldi
Concerto in C-Major for Harp (lever) and String Orchestra by A. Vivaldi
The Nutcracker Ballet, combined harp 1 and 2 part, by P. Tchaikovsky.
Cadenzas for Concerto for Flute and Harp by W. A. Mozart.
Solos and Harp Ensemble
“Bad Romance” by Lady Gaga
“Elegy” by Kathy Bundock Moore
The Nature of the World by J.Berkey
Four Lullabies for Harp by J. Berkey
“Beauty and the Beast”
“L’Hirondelle” for three lever harps, by Daquin
Favorite Folk Songs for lever harp by L. Warren.