I have finally decided to invest the money in my life long dream to play the harp! No one in my city gives lessons, let alone sells them. I ordered a 12 string to get started! The book that accompanied it doesn’t have any music for a 12 string harp, and upon further research I can find no books with music for a 12 string! Where can I find some?! Is there any?! My harp is a Baby Spruce 12 string Roosebeck. Thank you for your help & suggestions!! I really appreciate them!!
I don’t think there are any books for 12 strings, though someone correct me if I’m wrong. With only a 12-note range, you’ll likely be sticking mostly to playing the melodies of tunes.
If you find yourself wanting more strings to play more complex tunes, I would suggest looking into Harpsicles or the Waring Harp. I used a Waring harp for a year, and it was really quite enjoyable. Yes, it has a cardboard soundbox, but it had just as good a sound as my old Heather harp did–possibly even a bit better! I had fun decorating the soundbox before assembling, and it really worked well for such an inexpensive harp.
(I started on one of the rosewood/Pakistani/Roosebeck harps, too. I think I got super lucky in that mine held a tune pretty well, and didn’t crack or warp while I owned it. The levers were absolutely terrible, but the harp worked well for me for a couple years. Most others who own one aren’t so lucky, I gather.)
Anyway, I don’t think this has been particularly helpful (sorry), but I hope you have fun playing. 🙂
Here’s a link to the Waring instruments site:
I don’t know of any books for 12 strings either, and like Allison, I think you will not have enough strings to really play much more than melodies.
Most importantly, learn how to tune the harp and correct hand position. You might want to find a teacher for a few lessons or at least a book that shows this.
I don’t know what your ultimate goals are or how much music you already know, but if it were me, I would work with lead sheets. A lead sheet has the melody of a song written out with the chords to the song above it.
I would first learn the melody with just the right hand. Then I would learn the melody with just the left hand. Then I would learn tof play the melody in the right hand, and use the left hand to only play the note that is the root of the chord that is written- if the chord is a c hord, I would just play the note c with my left hand.
You will probably not have enough strings to even do this all the time, so you will either have to transpose your song to a different key, or learn how to make adjustments in other ways. This is not a disadvantage! You will learn a lot about the harp and about music theory by experimenting to make the music sound nice.
I would also want to get a harp with more strings as soon as I could, so I would start saving up for a good one, and look for a teacher. But I think there are ways you can learn a little on the tiny one. Listen to what you are doing and experiment.
The harp is a wonderful instrument! I am also happy to hear you are following your dreams. Too few of us do that.
If you can’t find 12 string music, you may have to write your own (if you have musical abilities already) or adapt 22 string music. If you pm me with a few songs you would like to learn, I would be happy to write some for you.
As for lessons…I know it can be hard to find and/or afford lessons. It is worth it to be sure you are doing things correctly from the beginning. Many people offer lessons over Skype, and you may be able to find someone willing to do a lesson once monthly, or even quarterly, instead of weekly, to cut the cost down a little. If that is not doable, there are some great tutorial videos on youtube. There is also a book called “teach yourself to play the folk harp” by Sylvia Woods. All of those are good resources for you to look into. I have recently discovered Josh Layne’s Harp Tuesday video series, and I think he is good at explaining things.
I looked at the waring harps that Allison suggested. I am intrigued! At the very least, you could use it to learn on, for proper hand position, etc. while you are saving up for your “dream harp,” whatever that may be. 🙂 I think it would be fun to get one to take to schools or just to the park, or whatever.
Sheet music for 12 string harp for your reference, and more to come.
Thanks for your support.
Easy Classic (Vol. 1) – 12 String Harp
Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring by J. S. Bach – 12 String Harp
My heart will go on (Love theme from Titanic) – 12 String Harp
Sakura Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) – 12 String Harp
- This reply was modified 2 years, 9 months ago by kitty_myleung.
As others have said, one cannot do typical large harp harmonization with only 12 strings but you CAN do some – for instance if the melody calls for G maj tuning (which is how I would tune this one) you could harmonize with a third or fifth for a G note: G+B or G+D. This assumes that you understand some basic music theory, of course. So any scores that have the melody range restricted to 1 1/2 octaves would be OK. Lead sheet books would probably be your best bet; one of my favorites is by Cynthia Shelhart, “Tunes to Go, 400 tunes in lead sheet format.”
You might also consider a good introductory instruction book/DVD to learn technique. All assume at least 3.5 octaves but right now you need to practice hand position and possibly music theory. There are several very popular ones: “Play the Harp Beautifully” by Pamela Bruner, “Teach Yourself the Folk Harp” by Laurie Riley, “Teach Yourself to Play the Folk Harp” and “Music Theory and Arranging Techniques for Folk Harp” by Sylvia Woods. Bruner’s comes with a DVD which is extremely helpful.
If or when you consider getting a larger harp you might look into the harps and kits offered by Musicmakers. I consider these to be among the best if you or a friend has some experience with basic woodworking.
I actually do know of a few songs for 10-strings harp : Belgian harpist Marianne from the channel “Celticize Me and Jazz me Up” has composed a few for tiny harps and shares the sheet music for free.
She shows that it’s possible to play and compose actual melodies for such small. harps.. Though I personally think it doesn’t sound great, I love the efforts. Others here have given you great tips!
For a link :
Happy Villagers video and
She also does a great comparison of harps by price, playing the same tune on various sized and priced harps. harps only start sounding good at the 1000€ mark in my opinion… Here : Comparison harp prices
I would advise you to look into the harps that people mention above, for the very simple reason that playing on a “toy” harp will soon feel discouraging and you might never find yourself practicing, ever.
That was my experience with the plucked psaltry at least.
Good luck anyhow!
Just in case someone is interested, I found a harpist from Hong Kong that does adaptations for 12-string harp and they are surprisingly good! Her YouTube channel is called “Harp Channel HK”.
Here’s My heart will go on :
12 String Small Harp – Titanic My Heart Will Go On
And You raise me up
You raise me up / 12 string baby harp
There’s a lot more on there and I am seriously impressed, because she looks like she’s playing a toy!
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