Double-Strung harp ressources

Posted In: Mine' s a triple!

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    evolene_t on #211443

    Hello to all!
    (I feel like I’m the only one creating posts here, and they’re all about Double-Strung harps!)

    As you know, I come from a place (France) where we play the harp quite a lot, both Pedal harps and Celtic ones. But double-strung harps are unknown here. My teacher tells me about a collegue of hers who plays the medieval Arpa Doppia, but that’s not quite what I’m looking for.

    I’ve been looking online for resources to teach myself in the meanwhile :
    – of course there is the Laurie Riley DVD that is available in full on YouTube.
    – we can also find on YouTube the Carolyn Deal (aka Smilingharp) videos where she teaches her tricks and techniques.
    Both are great ways to start with the Double-Strung and have the immense advantage of being free.

    However, I was looking at other ressources, seeing as there are a few harpists that have published books. Most, if not all, of these books are available as PDFs which is a wonderful way of getting the books instantly, anywhere in the world!
    I was wondering what your opinion of these books were, and if you had others to recommend?

    – The first is Laurie Riley and Beth Kollé’s books :
    Double-Strung harp for Beginners, The double-strung harp, and Advanced Compositions for the Double-Strung harp
    They are available on Sylvia Wood’s website, Harpcenter .

    I have bought the first two books and am still reading them. I’m interested in the opinion of anyone else who has read them : what did you think? How did it help your practice?

    I have found other references on this website Enjoy the Harp . I’ve looked at the websites and was hoping that someone could give me advice before spending quite a bit of money purchasing them one by one…

    Other references include :
    Cynthia STELHART has the book and CD set called Make mine a double! Available on her website : Cynthiashelhart

    Joanne GRIFFIN has multiple book of the Double Delight series, including Christmas double-strung melodies.
    Also available on her website : Joannegriffinmusic

    Cindy Blevins has a lot of books available : there are about 10 of them, compounding a collection called “Feast of Favourites“.
    Info here : Cindyblevinsmusic
    I’m curious about her book called “Double-Strung Compendium” : is it various songbooks bundled in one? Is it a method book? Has anyone read it?

    As a general rule, the books seem to either be tune books, that contain pieces composed for Double-Strung, or be methods book. Some combine both. It is not always clear which is which, however.

    Have you found other references that I might be missing? I’ve taken the time to compound these links because I believe it can help people down the line. Any opinion on any of these books mentioned above would be greatly appreciated!

    annagrace on #217434

    Thank you so much for this post, indeed it is very useful!! Do write reviews of the books you own!

    Biagio on #217487

    The modern double strung harp allows interesting effects that are not possible on any other kind of harp. It is helpful to see these demonstrated but a little reflection tells us what they are:

    -avoiding the hands bumping into each other
    -doubling notes
    -more flexibility with modulation
    -double the number of strings available
    -avoiding staccato in fast tunes
    and etc.

    If however, the question is about technique, there is no difference between a single and a double, although it may take a few days for eye-hand coordination to adjust.

    If you are entirely dependent on a written score that might be an issue, of course, since you would probably have to shift some left hand parts up and octave.


    evolene_t on #217760

    Hello Anna Grace,

    I saw in another post that you were looking at getting a double-strung.
    What I can say about the books I do own : Laurie Riley and Beth Kollé’s books, Double-Strung harp for Beginners & The double-strung harp :

    Double-Strung harp for Beginners :
    The Beginner’s book assumes that you’re a beginner at the harp, but know a little about reading music. Full book is 130p (PDF version).

    After introductions, there are about 50 pages dedicated to exercices : arpeggios, unison, rolled chords, and other double-strung exercices.

    The rest of the books has tunes, that are sometimes divided in different versions themselves. for example :
    The chanter’s tune
    – hands in unison, traditional
    – creative echoing
    – syncopated left hand

    The double-strung harp (= “middle” version, I haven’t bought the advanced book yet).

    After 10 or so pages introducing the double-strung and the style, the rest is entirely dedicated to tunes, sometimes with 2 version in C major and E major.

    My opinion on these books:

    They are fine books, clearly written ; and the fact that these are adaptations specifically for the double-strung is really nice.

    What slows me down a little is simply the fact that it is a book and I work better by ear :for the more traditional tunes, I can check YouTube for versions of what it’s supposed to sound like, and then understand. But a few of the songs are compositions by Laurie and Beth, and I haven’t taken a jab at those yet because of that.
    This, however, is not the fault of the books. It just reflects my learning style. Even when my teacher gives me a score to look at, I prefer to film her and work with the video while using the score as support. (Furthermore, at the moment, I’m focusing more on learning how to adapt simple tunes to the harp, than learning songs).

    At the time of the writing of these books, not all of their songs had been put into CDs ; and there doesn’t seem to be a CD that would cover all of the tunes (one would have to buy various ones to find each tunes).

    I’ll add that I’ve contacted Laurie Riley herself about other works of hers and she was lovely, answering me straight away and seeing what she could do to help me. I’m sure she would be very helpful to anyone who had questions about the books.

    Don’t hesitate if you have any questions!

    • This reply was modified 3 years ago by evolene_t.
    • This reply was modified 3 years ago by evolene_t.
    annagrace on #218101

    Oh wow thank you so much!!! I am going for Laurie’s book, because it has ‘Are you sleeping Maggie‘ in it. :o)

    I have Cynthia STELHART book and CD ‘Make mine a double’

    It has a lovely introduction into history of double harps and then moves on to the technique exercises – you guessed it – Echo, Split and Overlap techniques, then the section with arrangements like Amazing Grace, Greensleeves, All through the night, etc. Last chapter is on Double harp resources – luthiers, publications, Welsh music. The CD is a huge bonus because I like you also need to hear first! (Is there no cd to go with Laurie’s book? I thought on her site the book is sold with cd, but maybe not available for digital version?)

    It assumes and relies on previous harp playing experience ( even if just the basics) so it can’t be a sole fisrt book, so one needs to have hand placement, etc down already. No musical theory either, so it is not for the complete beginner.

    RE: “Double-Strung Compendium” I found the description on this site 32 pages, so looks like a song book.

    Songs from Cindy’s two double-string books, Duette and Breezy, plus four previously unpublished new double string pieces. There are 32 pages. INTERMEDIATE, DOUBLE-STRUNG HARP. Contains: Double Strung Waltz, Love is a Circle, A Voice in My Head, Duette, Long Way Home, The Secret, Dark of Night, Waltz in the Wood, and Breezy.

    The good news is that my Brittany Harp had arrives, the bad news is that it needs sanding, varnishing stringing and tuning. :o) Looking forward to my journey!

    evolene_t on #218156

    Thank you for sharing infos about this book as well!

    Looking forward to see you on your journey to the double-strung, and sharing experiences

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