Harp for Today

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    Karen Johns

    Sylvia Woods Music Theory and Arranging Techniques for Folk Harp is pretty good to get started on, it covers left hand patterns in different time signatures, chords, plus contains many songs to play around with.


    The Complete Idiots Guide to Arranging and Orchestration.

    Actually all of the music books in the Complete Idiots Guide series are very good. Music theory, Solos and Improvisation, song writing… All good starter material on the various subjects.


    For the harp, you may want to read the ABC of Harp Playing, the second part of which is on arranging, and Beatrice Rose’s book on orchestra parts.

    The best education comes from playing (and comparing) the best quality editions with others, and with the originals.

    If you’re asking about harp arranging.


    The above suggestions are good, and I’d add a few books by Louise Trotter: “Getting Started in Pop Harp”; “First Steps in Harp Improvisation”(including a CD); “The Creative Folk Harpist: Arranging and Performing”; and “Easy Fake Book for Lever Harp”(this one published by Lon and Healy). In each of these she gives valuable suggestions on how to handle a given melody. If you could visit a specialist harp music dealer and glance through these, you will know which you like best; or perhaps if you use several, you will be glad you did! A qualified harp teacher who makes arrangements should be a great help to you and answer your questions. Many Community Colleges have theory classes which are reasonable in cost; you need to learn how to find the chord symbol the composer intended for each part of the melody and this is easier when guided by a live instructor than from the printed page. Good luck!


    I have Louise Trotters First STeps in Harp Improvisation, which is very good. I also like Deborah Henson-Conanats Introduction to Importation, which also includes a CD of Jazz Vamps to practice with.

    In addition I am also very fond of Verlene Schermer’s books. Cool Chords and Groovy Rhythms which goes into the user of more Jazz type chords for arranging for lever harp, but is also very useful for any style of music.

    Her book, The Sing-Along Harper is a book on playing harp as accompaniment for singing, but can be used to learn to arrange the harp as accompaniment to other instruments. It includes a library of accompaniment patterns.


    I spelled Improvisation wrong in the Title of Deborah’s book.


    I received the 2008


    I have a copy and I agree, it is an excellent book. There are three books I have come to rely on when I need a refresher or have a question about technique. Salzedo’s ‘Method for the Harp’, Yolanda Kondonassis’ ‘On Playing The Harp’, and a little over a year ago I added ‘Harp For Today’.

    I got a copy just out of curiosity to check it out and didn’t expect to come back to it as often as I do.

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