Harp Notation Questions

Posted In: How To Play

  • Participant
    notesetter on #210354

    I’m a music engraver and would like to ask some questions regarding some relatively basic notation procedures for harp. I’m guessing these questions might be so basic that they don’t seem to be covered in the texts or websites I’ve explored.

    First of all, slurred passages. As far as I know, the harp does not “slur” notes or phrases in the traditional sense of string or wind instruments. If no damping is indicated, the notes are allowed to resonate. The many slurred passages found in Debussy and Ravel, for instance, seem to be phrasing indications instead. Is there any compelling reason to include slurs to indicate phrasing? Are there any other techniques on harp that are notated using slurs?

    Second, laissez vibrer. Many music engravers in love with their notation will include l.v. ties/arcs after each note of a simple arpeggiated passage. I can see using this convention after a damped note(s) as a reminder to return to ordinary playing. Are there any hard and fast rules for use of the arc shapes or the text “l.v.”?

    Thanks very much,

    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #211389

    Yes, we need slurs for phrasing, though some have wanted to do away with them. It affects how we play. But they should not obscure fingerings or pedal markings.
    Such engravers as you describe sound incompetent. No one has used arc shapes that I can think of. “L.V.” is only needed where there is a pause, rest or at the end of a piece where it is not desirable to muffle the strings. Consult responsibly produced harp music, or contact me directly.

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