Celtic harp books

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    eliza-bourgault on #192578

    Hi everyone,

    I have a student who would be very keen to learn some Celtic music. I was wondering if you knew any good books of Celtic sheet music. She’s been playing for slightly less than a year but her level of playing is about grade 1, and she does learn very quickly.
    I’ve found a list of books that may be good ( http://www.celticharper.com/musicbooks.html ) and if any of you have ever used them, would you recommend them?

    Thanks for your help 🙂

    Biagio on #192580

    Hi Eliza,

    There are a few good collections in that list but also some to possibly avoid, such as the Bunting Collection (she would have to edit the piano arrangements drastically for harp). Star Edwards’ “Easy Celtic Solos” are indeed easy but the arrangements are not traditional if one cares about such things.

    I think that for a good introduction to paying Celtic styles it is very important to listen to recordings and not rely on scores entirely, as accent is often not what a classical harpist might expect. Also, while it varies by region, as a generality Celtic arrangements are sparse – typically open chords and fifths – but with a great deal of ornamentation and you won’t get that just from a score.

    Two collections I’d suggest would be those by Kim Robertson and Laurie Riley. Laurie also has published a DVD devoted specifically to that style of playing. Some excellent CDs to “taste” are Alan Stivell’s “Renaissance” and Chris Caswell’s “Holy Wood”. These are wire strung harps from which much (but not all) of so-called “Celtic” music has evolved.

    The Carolan collection is great but she should be aware that we only have his melodies so arrangements are by modern players (and not necessarily “traditional” either); Carolan also introduced Baroque elements to the more sparse Irish style.


    Allison Stevick on #192590

    I agree with Biagio about doing lots of listening to get the feel of Celtic styles. And I also recommend Laurie Riley’s DVD and books, as I found them very helpful. I hope your student has fun with Celtic playing! 🙂

    jennifer-buehler on #192593

    I really like Beth Kolle’s books as well. Check out Melody’s music for probably the largest selection of celtic music and music for lever harp


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