For Lever Harp – When to replace??

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    I have recently started playing LEVER (not concert/classical) harp after a 15 year hiatus and I will be taking some lessons in the near future. In the meantime, I have a question about whether or not there is a GENERAL consensus about when to replace and when to lift off a string and not replace. I am thinking that one does not replace with long notes (half notes etc) and one does replace in rapid passages if one can, to facilitate movement. Logic would seem to dictate that replacement is needed for navigation but NOT replacing is desirable to allow a nice pull-off on strings when a long note is at hand. The action of a strong pull-off creates a good tone and replacing obviously dampens strings so that I understand, of course, that one does NOT replace when one does not want to dampen a string. I am fully aware that there are “schools” of thought regarding harp technique but this ought to be a VERY general question.
    Could anyone with knowledge be so kind to advise me or lead me to some websites where I might find some information in this regard? Again, I am fully aware that some lessons will help and of the pitfalls of practicing bad techniques – but there are many arguments as to “correct” technique anyway, so I am starting out on my own, with no pressure, til I feel ready to take a few lessons. As a piano teacher I am well, very well, aware of the pitfalls to this approach. Thanks very much for any hints.

    Angela Biggs

    I am not a concert harpist; I play lever harp music I like, and to please my own ear rather than satisfy the requirements of historical accuracy. So please take this with a grain of salt.

    I will allow my hands to float where appropriate, but I prefer not to pull them all the way out from the harp unless I’m at the end of a piece or reach a very long pause. I like to keep my hands near the harp where they’re needed.

    If I have a section I’d like to allow to ring, but some of the strings need to be played again soon, I “place” my fingers for the next section in the appropriate position — but *beside* the strings instead of on them. That way I can delay the damping effects, while remaining ready to move on. In rapid passages, that is simply not possible: placement is ongoing and will necessarily dampen strings.


    I think I do the same as Angela.


    You certainly don’t replace on long notes until they are over- but may want to replace just as/after you play the next note to let the next one ring more clearly.

    As for your nice pull-off on strings… My school of playing is very strongly that you play with the fingers, not with the arm.

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