Before I ask the questions I am writing my post for, here is some
information on myself so that you are actually able (if you
want/choose to help me) to be as precise in your answer as you wish.
I have been wanting to learn the harp for a very long time already. I
grew up to a lot of Irish songs and folk music and when I finally got
accepted at our local music school to learn the harp, to say that I
was delighted would not be enough. However, the harp I was introduced
to playing was much bigger than I had anticipated (30something-string
lever harp). Nonetheless, I liked the sound very much, no harp can
possibly sound bad when it is in tune, so I kept on learning. I then
moved on to the pedal harp. Yes, I know, this is not exactly a “moving
on” but that was what it was portrayed to me at that time.
Theoretically, I could have lifted the first harp I used, the pedal
harp I was then to play was brought to my parent’s house by a company
specialising in moving furniture with two strong men struggling to
carry it. I kept on playing, the sound was marvellous, but even seeing
pictures of smaller harps somewhere made my heart ache for playing one
of them and send this monster of a pedal harp back to where it
belonged. My very nice harp teacher retired and I chose to quit the
harp. That was four years ago.
Playing the harp has been somewhat out of my mind since then, it has
been an extremely busy period of my life, but it has never been out of
my heart, if I may use this rather pathetic expression. It is true, I
am addicted to the harp, I cannot help it and I do not see why I should.
The situation now is this: I have moved to Wales and I am currently
studying at university. I have found that I cannot ignore my desire to
take up the harp again any longer. It started to grow stronger one
year ago and I am now at the point at which I would buy just about any
harp for just about any price as long as I could hold it in my hands soon!
I have e-mailed the music department of my university a month ago but
I have received no reply yet (I was asking about lessons, and if I
could hire a harp), I have been to our local music shop yesterday and
had a go at an incredibly out-of-tune Stoney End 22-string harp. The
fact that I thought it sounded celestially speaks volumes about the
severity of my harp-addiction’s symptoms.
It is absolutely clear to me that nothing bigger than a 22-string “lap
harp” can be the right choice for me, firstly, because a light-weight
small harp has always been the harp of my dreams, and secondly,
because my cramped study-bedroom will not allow for anything bigger
than that, even if this was not so. The harp must fit in my (even more
cramped) wardrobe to keep it out of direct sunlight and as far “away”
from the heating as possible within the available dimensions so there
is little choice there.
So, taking into account my harp-addiction, would you advise against a
22-string lap harp? If so, on which grounds?
Assuming, a 22-string lap harp was a prefectly reasonable and fine
choice, which one should I choose?
If I am to buy one at the local music shop it must be a Stoney End, as
they have no others. I am not particularly happy with their knowledge
about harps, though. They put them in the front bay window and the
owner hadn’t even heard about loveland levers. The alternative to the
Stoney End (which is priced at 1000 British pounds, complete set of
sharpening levers included, I suppose) would be a harp from a Welsh
harpmaker, Alun Thomas. According to “celticharper” he is “long
established” and I found him via a link from that site. Does anyone
know about him or his harps? The smallest of his harps would be a
22-string Telyneg at a comparable price to the Stoney End. If I should
indeed go for a Telyneg I could (if he has one available) hire another
Telyneg while he is making my harp. Is that good practice?
The Telyneg has a range from third octave A to top A. By your
experience, is that a good range to be confined to?
I am also not yet used to the English terms for certain music-aspects,
so if anyone has the leisure and the will to describe “third octave A
to top A” to me very briefly, this would greatly help me as my
dictionary is not quite forthcoming in this and I am not sure if my
notion of the terms is correct.
Assuming I have a 22-string lap harp (hired or bought – the latter of
which would be ultimately cheaper for me), is it true that it is more
difficult to learn than other types of harps?
So far I have read about problems regarding position, the harp keeping
to slide down (I noticed that when I tried out the Stoney End) and a
limited sheet music repertoire to draw on. Is anyone out there who
plays a 22-string lap harp who could share his/her knowledge with me
on these matters?
These are the most important questions I can think of so far, and I do
apologize for this very lengthy post, Thank You Very Much in advance
for your answers!