‘bright’ tone color

Posted In: Amateur Harpists

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    deb-l on #155336

    I understand bright to mean clean and crisp with less dwell.

    deb-l on #155337

    maybe bright has nothing to do with resonance or dwell?

    jessica-wolff on #155338

    Resonance and dwell (I assume you mean sustain) are not the same thing.

    deb-l on #155339

    any idea where there’s a blog or a thread that explains the terminology for harp tone color?

    kreig-kitts on #155340

    I think of bright as having a lot of “aaaaah” and “eeeeeee” sound in the tone, and darker as having more of the “ooooh” and “oooooo.” That’s the best I can do.

    deb-l on #155341

    that’s a great way to describe it!

    deb-l on #155342

    Jessica, I’d be interested in the deffinition of each.

    bernhard-schmidt on #155343


    a very good question…

    jessica-wolff on #155344

    Yes, dwell is sustain, but I can’t think of an actual definition for resonance off the top of my head. I remember someone saying that square-backed harps tend to have more projection (that’s basically how they reach your audience) and roundbacks have more resonance. Bernhard’s explanation was more technical than what I was looking for, but as he said, you know it when you hear it. I think I’d better hit the dictionary.

    deb-l on #155345

    Bernard, I was under the assumption that the tonal colors were poetic metaphors for interpretations of sound, I had no idea there was a scientific basis related to frequency.

    Karen Johns on #155346

    Dwell would be the same as sustain, as I understand it- how long the sound of the note plucked is heard. Resonance covers a broader area, which includes yourself and other areas the sound affects. For instance, when I pluck a certain string on one of my harp, strings on my other harps resonate sympathetically. Also, I can feel the harp resonate within myself when I play. I’m sure a harp therapist could explain this better than I can, such as how higher notes resonate differently than lower notes in regards to the body, etc.


    deb-l on #155347

    thank you Karen that was a very clear explanation.

    unknown-user on #155348

    There are two different aspects to resonance though – the room and the harp itself. This is why two harps might sound different, even if in the same room. If you think about it, the same harp might sound different in two different rooms: this is because of the resonance of the room – the bouncing soundwaves are altered, and this alteration is known as resonance. (think concert hall v. living room) The harp sound box has its own resonance as well. Basically a harp’s “personal” resonance is how it takes the sound of the vibrating string (which should be the same on any harp because a vibrating string is a vibrating string) and changes it. Part of how it changes the sound is that it amplifies it. Slight alterations in the shape and size of the soundbox could drastically change a harp’s sound!


    jessica-wolff on #155349

    If I play harp (or guitar or banjo) in a room floored with Mexican tile, the resonance is increased enormously from playing the same instrument in a carpeted room. The same would probably be true of a wooden floor as opposed to carpeting.

    Projection is how well the sound reaches your audience–did I put that right?–and you can judge it best by having someone else listen to you at some distance away.

    penny-amundsen on #155350

    I find the terms “bright” and “warm” confusing/ambiguous.

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