Harp technique

  • Member
    Clare McDonogh on #150652

    Hello to all the professional harpists :-)

    I’m currently researching harp technique (focusing on Salzedo method) as part of an honours project. I just wanted to get an idea of how many professional harpists:

    a) never press the right fore-arm against the sound-board but occasionally touch it
    b) press on the sound board for occasional passages (certain techniques, perhaps trills)
    c) lean on the soundboard most of the time

    I understand that Salzedo players are less likely to lean on the soundboard, but still thought it would be interesting to hear your responses. Please don’t think I intend on starting a technique debate here, I am in no way suggesting the superiority of any particular method.

    Thanks and hope you are all well,

    Clare McDonogh

    Participant
    carl-swanson on #150653

    The wording of your questions is odd. You didn’t use the one word that best describes the contact of the right arm on the edge of the soundboard, and that is the word “rest.” So your questions should be worded:

    a) never rest the right fore-arm on the soundboard but occasionally touch it.
    b) rest on the soundboard for occasional passages(certain techniques, perhaps trills)
    c) rest on the soundboard most of the time

    I don’t know of any technique that tells you to press the arm against the edge of the soundboard.

    Participant
    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #150654

    It seems to me the question is how much weight is in the arm if it is “resting” against the sounding-board and I would add, how that affects its movement or inhibits or relieves it. It’s not so simple. In the Salzedo method one might accidentally touch it while doing something, but one never rests against it. The distinction in the Method is, whether your elbows are in an upward position, such as when playing chords, melody, and in the downward position when playing a series of octaves, harmonics and trilling. In that position, it may touch or brush against the soundingboard, but it does not press or rest, or restrict movement.

    What I have observed in some other techniques is that there is little or no movement in the arm, and the hand/fingers do everything, most particularly in the right hand. Salzedo Method has more free and constant movement, as I would describe it, but all integrated for specific purpose, not free as in whatever one feels like doing.

    It is interesting that if I play an 18th- or 19th-century piece without applying myself, I will often “revert” to playing with my right arm resting on the board and lower on the strings. It seems to come, either out of the music, or out of how previous harpists have played it. New music is absent of that, no precedent when no one else has played it before. All performers are to some degree conscious of those who have performed before them, I think. Actors have to deliberately make choices in roles to avoid doing what predecessors have done. Call it telepathy if you like, I think I would.

    Participant
    carl-swanson on #150655

    -What I have observed in some other techniques is that there is little or no movement in the arm, and the hand/fingers do everything-

    You left out one critical element, and that’s the wrist. In French method and all of the methods derived from it, the wrist is loose and supple and is constantly flexing. That’s what allows the player to play very difficult pieces or to play for a long time and not tire. What I’ve observed in Salzedo players, at least at the lower levels, is that the wrist(both left and right) is rigid and inflexible. The joint may as well not be there. Instead, the player ‘raises.’ Using the wrist as it is done in French method completely eliminates thge need for raising.

    Participant
    Lynne Abbey-Lee on #150656

    Would it be remotely possibly to just answer this student’s question and not deteriorate into another Salzedo/French debate? For Pete’s sake, if we as a harp community can’t just help out a student with a simple, legitimate query, then why would she want to become part of it (the harp community)? Jeez. . .

    Clare, my answer is a. Good luck with your project!

    Participant
    carl-swanson on #150657

    If you’re referring to my two posts, I just read them again, and i just don’t see any problem with either one. What’s your problem with some clarification? If her paper is going to be accurate, she needs to start by asking the right questions in order to come to accurate conclusions. As far as Saul’s post is concerned, he didn’t mention the one thing that is at the core of French technique. I thought he might like that clarification. The best test of any idea is how well it stands up to withering examination. That’s the foundation of scientific and legal endeavors. Why can’t we apply that to musical education?

    Participant
    unknown-user on #150658

    If I may interject, I believe Lynne was just pointing out that neither Carl nor Saul actually answered the question and instead ended up talking about the techniques themselves.

    Participant
    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #150659

    I didn’t answer because I didn’t feel the wording was an accurate reflection of the technique. A is the closest.

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