Adapting repertoire to smaller harp

Posted In: How To Play

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    Rachael Rosenbaum on #184166


    Lots of people do this, no? Use smaller harps for travel…

    I have a large, fabulous harp, 36-string Salvi Livia. I love it! However, I’m strongly considering acquiring a 26-string harp for travel and ensemble work. Why? I am planning to frequent an area with lots of hills, rock-pathways, and lots of stairs. It seems like it’s a no-brainer to get something lighter and easier to haul around.

    Main question: how hard is it to adapt one’s repertoire to a smaller harp? I imagine it’s not a huge deal… what do you all think? Any experience much appreciated!

    Allison Stevick on #184169

    I started on a 22 string harp, so I was adapting and arranging from the beginning. It’s not difficult. 🙂 I found that I was mostly jumping up an octave when needed, or using different chord inversions when they would normally have been below the harp’s range. Sometimes I would just play one note in the left hand if doing inversions would make my hand run into each other.
    (Of course, had I known about double strung harps at that time, I may have gotten ahold of one of those and not had to worry about my hands running into each other at all.)

    Have fun finding your small harp, and may you have many happy days playing it. 🙂

    Rachael Rosenbaum on #184170


    Thank you, Allison! I appreciate your well-wishes and your advice/perspective, and find it reassuring!

    All others welcome to weigh in, too.

    Angela Biggs on #184177

    Rachel, I acquired a Fullsicle a few years ago and tried doing that. While the re-arranging itself is not difficult, I found it amounted to learning each piece twice — once for the large harp, and once for the small one. This seemed like a waste of time to me.

    In the end I used a harp therapy music book, and learned some pieces that fit into the 26 strings of the smaller harp. It was simpler to transfer music from the smaller harp to the larger one than the other way around.

    Now I’m waiting for the day when I can afford the Heartland Infinity and have the best of both worlds….

    Rachael Rosenbaum on #184180


    Thank you, Angela. That’s a really great and useful idea, I may just do as you say and learn my pieces from a book meant for smaller harps and adjust as needed to my Livia. Thanks so much!

    Biagio on #184181

    Besides being a master of the cross strung, Harper Tasche has published as series of arrangements expressly for the smaller harps including a piece played with only one hand. Studying what he does may give you some ideas.

    Adding chords to the melody hand is easier IMHO than completely relearning a piece for the harmony hand – just don’t use those full chords in the LH:-)

    I’m glad to see interest here for the small double strungs as well. Rees makes a lovely one, but if you’ll be hiking in rugged areas a less expensive one might be a safer bet. Blevins and Stoney End both make some.

    I have a few left that I made for a retreat – really low end but they serve the purpose. I levered one for myself just for those “toss in the back of the car” occasions.


    Rachael Rosenbaum on #184182


    Thanks, Biagio! I’m hoping to purchase some of Harper’s music for the 26-string, as per your advice. It does seem easier to adjust from 26 to 36 as opposed to the other way around, in general…

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