Am wanting to learn harp and while researching harp manufacturers, I
came across a cross-strung harp, which has no need for tuning levers,
since all the chromatic notes are there.
I myself don’t play cross-strung harp, but I did meet up with Harper Tasche (who is outstanding
on the cross-strung) in Canada this year and listened to him speak at length about his, and got to
give it a quick try. I’m by no means an expert, but I may be able to give you a very rudimentary
overview. The cross-strung is a fabulous instrument, but you may find a good deal of difficulty
finding a way to learn it, as not very many people play it (compared with more conventional
harps), and even fewer teach it. There are a few books and videotapes that are supposedly
available, but the ones I’ve seen go on the assumption that you’ve already got some harp
experience under your belt– they’re not geared towards people completely new to harping.
So even teaching yourself may prove difficult. Playing the cross-strung harp is very, very
different from playing “regular” harp, in that the hand positions are all different. One needs to think
“in three dimensions”, as your hands not only need to find the right place horizontally on the harp,
but also vertically in order to select the right combinations of strings above and/or below the
cross. While sitting at the harp, the string at the low left set is continued at the high right set, and
the strings beginning on the right end on the left, etc, so that the basic chord patterns for the two
hands are opposites. One must learn specialized (and different) hand positions for each hand
and each chord, therefore, which are often named after letters, like “v” , based on which fingers
are up or down for each combination. It is very complex to learn. Quite honestly, I wouldn’t
recommend you learn harp on a cross-strung to start out with unless you have a teacher locally to
guide you through it. You might be better off learning on a more conventional instrument and
then advancing to the cross-strung later on (not to discourage you, of course!) Coming from a
piano background myself, I can assure you that using sharping levers on a harp is not as bad as
it seems when you’re first setting out to learn. You get the hang of it quickly, and a surprising
amount of your piano repertoire can be adapted. If you are hoping to play primarily very
chromatic music, you may want to consider learning the pedal harp rather than lever harp, in any
case– teachers will be easier to find, your repertoire will be more directly transferable, and once
you are confident at the fundamentals of harping, you can always shoot for the cross-strung later
on. There are a number of places that will offer financing on pedal harps to make them more
Hope that helps.
I play the cross strung harp. Since I play keyboards, the transition to cross strung harp was quite easy. I have a Stony End cross strung lap harp and am getting ready to buy a cross strung floor harp with five octaves (the lap has three.) I also have a levered harp. Compared to the cross strung, I find the levered harp limited.
I’m living in Germany, in Black Forest and have no possibility to find a teacher for cromatic harp somewhere here, If you know how I can order any books for this orcan give me some adwice, it would be really great. I’m an opera singer and just start to play chromatic harp, which I already love very much. I don’t know, where are you at home but I’m going to visit London from 23 to 31 of Oktober
If you read the information in this link, it will answer a lot of your questions.
Lower down on that page, there’s also a reference to a book that Harper Tasche wrote, “How To Play The Cross-Strung Harp.”
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