Is the classic lever harp with pedal harp strings and tensions, designed as a stepping stone to pedal harp, ever an end unto itself?
Well, I’m probably not the one to answer since when I started I had no intention of playing pedal harp, but I ended up playing pedal harp.
I know plenty of harpists who have no desire to play pedal harp. There are plenty of harpists who even played pedal harp and moved exclusively or almost exclusively to lever harp.
Pedal harp strings and tension is a matter of taste and not necessarily a tool simply to move people on to pedal harp. Having both lever harps with “folk” stringing and “pedal harp” stringing I simply prefer the tension and feel of strings when strung like a pedal harp. I have big hands so the narrow spacing and thin strings are more of a problem for me, although I can manage.
As I have mentioned elsewhere, I don’t like the idea that the lever harp is some kind of stepping stone to the pedal harp. Not that it can’t be. Since it takes a while before someone becomes proficient enough for pedals to become a real necessity for most people who do want to play pedal harp eventually, the lever harp is a good, less expensive option to get your feet wet and learn the basics while you save up for that very expensive pedal harp.
But that is just one end that lever harps serve. They are instruments in themselves. All instruments have their strengths and their limitations. The strengths and limitations of a lever harp vs. a pedal harp can often make it the better options.
And the number of pedal harpists out there who also play lever harp as well I think indicates that there is more to it than the idea of “moving up to” a pedal harp from levers. If that were so there would be no need for most harpists to keep a lever
I think my Thormahlen Serenade, strung with nylon, was an absolutely perfect stepping stone to pedal harp, but the nice thing is it was also a perfect “stay here and play” harp. The tension is just slightly lighter than my 85P.
I think the more involved I get with harps the more i realize that individual harps are like individual people- when you get to know them, they can surprise you no matter what you thought in the first place.
Hmm, well, if I ran into a child-size Erard double-action like the one I saw in a museum in Vienna, I might be tempted away from the classic lever harp &c. But I admit I like the slightly easier action of some lever harps. (I’m assuming the Erard I mention also has a slightly easier action.)
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