Harp glissandi inquiry

Posted In: How To Play

  • Member
    riffwraith on #186434

    Hi there. I am not a harpist, but a composer, and I have a question about glissandi.

    All of the work I do is with sample libraries (unfortunately), and I have a harp library which features glissandi. Thing is, they do not sound right. I was hoping someone who knows better than I can take a quick listen, and tell me if this sounds right:

    [audio src="http://www.jeffreyhayat.com/harpex1.mp3" /]

    That is supposedly an Em gliss. To me, something sounds off. Is it just me?

    Thanks in advance.

    Spectator
    Sid Humphreys on #186436

    I did a quick Emin gliss then listened to this. It sounds right. Perhaps maybe you would want to try an Emin7? That would be D, C flat, B, E, F flat G, A.

    Participant
    Gretchen Cover on #186437

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart to take the time and effort to contact a real harpist to help you with your gliss. It means so much to have the harp part written correctly and sound right.

    There is a great website you might want to visit: http://www.composingforharp.com.

    Member
    riffwraith on #186438

    I did a quick Emin gliss then listened to this. It sounds right. Perhaps maybe you would want to try an Emin7? That would be D, C flat, B, E, F flat G, A.

    Hi – and thank you for the reply. It’s not really what I want to try; it’s what has been recorded. It says “Em”, so I am expecting Em.

    Ok, I slowed it down, and here is what that sounds like:

    [audio src="http://www.jeffreyhayat.com/harpex2.mp3" /]

    You can clearly hear D# more than once as opposed to D; THIS is why it didn’t sound right to me.

    So, the Q is: when a harpist sees that the key of the piece is in Em, sees that they have been instructed to play a gliss where the first note is E and the last note is E, do they play: E F# G A B C D E F# G A B C D E? That’s what I would expect…

    Thanks again.

    Participant
    Gretchen Cover on #186440

    I don’t know why there would be a D#. The notes you show above for an e minor glissando is also what is shown in my gliss book “A Harpist Survival Guide to Glisses” by Kathy Bundock Moore – an invaluable book for glissandos.

    Participant
    balfour-knight on #186537

    What E minor is referring to is the Natural minor scale. Using a D sharp makes it into a Harmonic minor scale, just as using a D sharp and a C sharp would make it into a Melodic minor scale, basic music theory. It just depends upon which sound the composer wants, I guess!

    Participant
    Alison on #186564

    didnt anyone explain, the glissandi which work best play the chord and hide the unwanted notes enharmonically… so thinking thro…
    the ROOT chord of Emin has E G B E and then, in order to hide the other notes we set Cb to double B and Fb to double E.
    now A and D strings can’t be hidden or doubled, unfortunately, and don’t belong in the chord. The compromise is to leave D natural to make it sound like 7th chord, sounds better than D# in the scale, the A is a leftover and can’t be matched in this example.
    =================================
    here’s an easier example in the key of Gb
    set Gb, Bb Db for the root chord; hide other strings by setting F# A# C#
    so E is the only oddity, nothing can be done to hide it, so leave it natural and tolerate it.

    Participant
    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #186726

    My advice to a composer is, never rely on software to compose, especially the playback. It will lead you to write unplayable music. Learn about the harp, listen to harp music, and use your ears, your intuition, and the knowledge you gain. Study harp scores. That is the best way to learn. The playback is completely misleading, being automated.

    Participant
    Elizabeth Volpé Bligh on #186814

    When writing glissandi, write the notes that you want as a scale in a small-case font or as 32nd notes, so that there is no confusion. I dislike it when it just says “Em”, because it does not tell you which kind of Em (natural, harmonic or melodic) or if they want the chord. Personally, when in doubt, I choose the harmonic minor scale, but my ears will tell me if I need to change that assumption. I don’t recommend putting in pedal patterns, especially if you are not a harpist. They can be wrong, but the notes don’t lie.

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