Harp and recorder – easy arrangements

Posted In: How To Play

  • Participant
    evolene_t on #217342

    Hello everyone!

    I’m a fairly beginner in the celtic/lever harp and play double-strung. I’m not a pro and don’t intend to play for anything but pleasure.
    On the other hand, I enjoy practicing quite a lot, 10mn here and there multiple times a day. My lover, whose daughter has recently talked up the piano, is feeling a little left out 🙂

    So he’s taken up the recorder, and has chosen the alto and tenor (or bass, depending on the language) rather than the small soprano we all know. They have lovely deep sounds and sound wonderful with the harp. He plays the 3rd and 4th from the left here :

    <img src=”
    http://westmusic.cachefly.net/getDynamicImage.aspx?w=800&h=800&b=00ffffff&path=Harmony-30-Series-H305P-Recorders-Set-of-5.jpg&#8221; alt=”Set of 5 recorders Alto Tenor” />

    Neither of us are musicians but enjoy motivating one another. The trouble is, he finds it pretty easy to find the melody after 2 or 3 tries (what would be the equivalent of singing the tune), whereas I can spend days trying to find chords that would accompany the tune and get nowhere! 🙁

    For this reason, I was wondering if you had scores for simple accompaniment at the harp, like you would find with harp and song.

    For example, he would play the tune of “We Three Kings” but I have no idea how to find beginner’s harp score that doesn’t have the tune on the right hand, and simple 1-5-8 chords on the left. More advanced tunes leave me befuddled, even if I just look at the left hand, because it is ment to be played in harmony with the right.

    And most of the repertoire I find is for harp and flute : while very nice, it is simply not the same instrument (though we call it by the same name in french).
    Harp and Flute

    Otherwise, perhaps an advanced player or composer could enlighten me on how to compose simple chords that go well with most folk and popular songs?
    (I’m also looking into music theory books, check out my other post).

    I have the most flexibility with the harp, because I have levers, and, you know, don’t have just an octave and 2 notes above to play everything. This makes it all the more difficult to just play something nice together, but it is also why I love the harp.

    Any help, tips or inputs would be hugely appreciated! 🙂

    Participant
    wil-weten on #217353

    Hi Evolène think of ‘fake books’. In these books you find the tune and the names of the chords. You could simply play this chords as 1-5-8 to start with and make them more interesting when will have learned how to do that with e.g. Pamela Bruner’s book Harp accompaniment for Vocals.

    Participant
    charles-nix on #217365

    You might find Patricia Jaeger’s “Folk Harp with a Friend” useful. There are several in the series. Also Ray Pool has several books on arranging and harmony including “Three’s a Chord”.

    It occurs to me that particularly with Alto recorder you will have to get into some transposing of arrangements to find a key he can play in. Most arrangements will assume voice or flute type ranges for the melody, starting around middle-c. That matches tenor recorder if the low notes are loud enough to hear, but the alto’s lowest note is f.

    That suggests that learning to create simple harmonizations and arrangements yourself from lead sheet might be a more enjoyable path. It is not that hard. Folk tunes depend heavily on I-IV-V harmony, with the occasional II, III, and VI chords. Once you get into it, or have someone show you how, even from a book, you should be OK.

    Charles Nix

    Charles Nix

    Participant
    evolene_t on #217391

    It occurs to me that particularly with Alto recorder you will have to get into some transposing of arrangements to find a key he can play in. Most arrangements will assume voice or flute type ranges for the melody, starting around middle-c.

    Hello Charles,
    Yes, transposing is indeed an issue, as well as the fact that it is much harder to play accidentals. I actually find that the music I play tends to include accidentals (F sharp especially). It is also to overcome this issue that I want to be able to adapt a song, and not just play the left-hand chords with my right hand.
    Learning to create simple harmonisations does seem to be the way to go!

    Participant
    evolene_t on #217974

    Folk tunes depend heavily on I-IV-V harmony, with the occasional II, III, and VI chords. Once you get into it, or have someone show you how, even from a book, you should be OK.

    Me again!
    I’ve heard about these arrangements, but I still don’t understand what one means by “II ou VI chords”. Is it a third? (ej C and E)? Any teacher here that would be willing to give a quick explanation of what this implies and how to compose?

    Participant
    wil-weten on #217982

    Hi Evolène, I am not a harp teacher, but I think reading Sylvia Woods’ Music Theory and Arranging Technique for All Harps (see e.g. https://www.bookdepository.com/Music-Theory-Arranging-Techniques-for-Folk-Harps-Sylvia-Woods/9780936661025 (no shipping costs worldwide) will explain this and more in a simple and fun way. And you learn how to make your own simple arrangements. I really love this books.

    I-IV-V harmony is suitable for most simple tunes in major. The other chords would than be ii, iii and vi (not II, III and VI).
    In minor tunes this would be the other way round.
    So, in a tune in C, the I is the C-chord, the IV is the F-chord and the V is the G-chord.
    In a tune in G, the I is the G-chord, the IV is the C-chord and the V is the D-chord.
    There’s quite a lot more to say about this, but I think the aforementioned book will get you a solid base to start and make your own arrangements or learn how to play from fake books.

    In my previous post I already recommended Pamela Bruner’s book Harp accompaniment for Vocals. I’d like to recommend it again. Of course, a recorder is not the same as the human voice, but you would learn how to make a two handed arrangement while the recorder would have the tune.

    Participant
    evolene_t on #217987

    Hello Wil-Weten! I’ve bought Sylvia Wood’s book (PDF version, great stuff), and going though it little by little. I guess I haven’t reached that passage yet! I was thinking of going through it a little more before giving a review. Thank you so much for the the reference…

    Concerning Bruner’s book, I’m very interested in it as well. The only trouble is, I can’t find it in PDF (online version) like Sylvia Wood’s. Shipping costs to France are almost double that of the book… And it’s not available on the website Book Depository, I could have used these free shipping fees 🙂
    So I was thinking of finishing Wood’s book first, then checking out means of getting that book.

    Thank you for your explanation anyhow, makes things much clearer!

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 1 month ago by evolene_t.
    Participant
    wil-weten on #218027

    Hi Evolène, maybe shipping from the Netherlands or from Germany to France won’t be as pricey.

    You may have a look at: https://www.zingendesnaar.nl/bruner-pamela-harp-accompaniment-for-vocals.html?___store=en&___from_store=nl

    It looks like it’s also available from Glissando in Germany (https://www.glissando.de/harfe/kataloge/notenhaken.pdf ) and perhaps also from other German harp shops.

    Participant
    evolene_t on #218030

    Oh, thanks for finding that! I will definitely look into European harp shops!

    Participant
    emma-graham on #218033

    I really recommend this book for learning about harmony, chords and simple improvisation using lead sheets. It’s downloadable.

    Chord Town, piano or harp

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