No…I’m not proposing a rumble! 😉
Liam’s question about a wire harp forum got me to wondering what the percentage of classical harpists to folk harpers is here?
Posted In: Amateur Harpists
I think your classification system is a bit to narrow.
Some harpists are equally comfortable in both genres. And others don’t work in either. Pedal harp doesn’t equal classical harpist. You can play folk music on the pedal harp as well. In fact much contemporary folk is fairly chromatic so more suited to pedal harp. Even the diatonic folk music can still be played on pedal harp.
Also Jazz is best played on Pedal harp as is a lot of Pop music.
Some folks defy any classification. Deborah Henson-Conant, for instance, started as a Jazz harpist but these days she goes beyond any simple classification and she plays everything from Celtic to Jazz/Classical fusion, all with her own sense of style.
Personally I wouldn’t be able to say what kind of a harpist I am. I started wanting to play Celtic, but studied with a Classical harpist who also played Jazz. I am just as likely to sit at my lever harp as at my pedal harp, and what I play at any given time depends on a lot of factors, but could just as likely be an old folk tune as a Jazz standard or a classical piece.
I am just a harpist. I play what ever I want at any given time and don’t concern myself too much about genres.
>t’s just that I often see here posts from people who plan to “move up” (I prefer the word “transition” myself) to pedal harp, and I wonder how many of us are more attracted to the folk instruments and their repertoire, and have no plan or desire to play the pedal harp?
But that’s what Tony is saying: what is the lever harp repertoire? It’s whatever you want it to be. People play all sorts of music without pedals, you know. To imply that it’s only suitable for folkies is doing it a disservice. You’re still implying that you need pedals for anything else.
I agree that any type of music can be played on the lever harp – which is one reason that I’m very committed to it as an instrument. Thankfully, the idea that the lever harp is a ‘beginners’ instrument from which musicians ‘progress’ to pedal harp is dying away. I see lever harp and pedal harp as two distinct instruments, each with their own strengths.
This is partly due to inspiring lever harpists such as Catriona McKay, Corrina Hewat and Savourna Stevenson, demonstrating the amazing range of things the lever harp can do. And also because of the general rise in the popularity of traditional and folk music – which generally is the main repertoire for lever harp.
It’s also due to the examination boards introducing complete gradings for lever harp, whereas previously, it was only possible to take lever harp in the lower grades, it then being assumed that the harpist would ‘move up’ to pedal harp in order to learn the classical repertoire demanded of the orchestral harpist.
Though I do agree that any type of music can be played on any type of harp, and my repertoire is not terribly different from that of my pedal harpist friends, there is still a connection with lever harp and folk – partly because of the popular insistence that it is a ‘Celtic’ harp. (Don’t get me started on that…)
Like any type of music, ‘folk’ changes depending on the influences of the musicians that play it. These days, it is quite chromatic and new lever harps are being built to reflect this, such as the amazing Starfish McKay harp, which has one chromatic octave.
But while I would love to play the pedal harp as a secondary instrument (mostly because I think it would be great for the weddings that are my mainstay), as a musician, I’m interested in the traditional repertoire and lever harp suits that very well.
Then to answer the question posed by Audrey one would simply say “I play both folk and pedal harp”-right? I don’t mean to be argumentative either, but this is a simple question to me, as I think it was intended from the beginning. Now it seems to have turned into a big can of worms (or harp-strings, if you will). LOL