muffle, damp, dampening

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    Sylvia on #185327

    I was taught using the word “muffle,” and I’m wondering what others were taught.
    The reason I ask is that the Music Braille people are editing a harp chapter for the next revision of the code book. They plan to use the word “damp,” and it sounds strange to me.

    Janis Cortese on #185330

    That seems like a bad idea; they should stick with the jargon used by the rest of the harp community.

    Sylvia on #185331

    They seem to think that damp is what the harp community uses.
    This is sort of a survey of a limited sample of harpists, but I thought I’d see what word others use. Damp sounds like something got wet. I’ve heard dampening, but not damp.
    So Janis, I assume that you use the word muffle?

    kreig-kitts on #185333

    The only thing I dampen is a fingertip if I have a fast page turn. I muffle. Maybe they’re inspired by pianos and the damper pedal.

    Biagio on #185336

    I’ve always seen “muffle” with respect to pedal and lever harps; “damp” with respect to wire strung. Beats me why. As a wild guess maybe because wire harpers “finger damp” – usually only one or two ringing strings – whereas harpists more often use the palm of the hand over a range(?)

    Since the book is directed at the blind I’m guessing that, ergonomically, a finger damp would be thought easier for return placement on gut/nylon as well.

    Or maybe not:-)


    Sylvia on #185337

    “Maybe they’re inspired by pianos and the damper pedal.”
    Indeed. He did mention that the word was used in relation to pianos.
    So far, my little survey is resoundingly in favor of muffle.

    Janis Cortese on #185338

    Yeah — it sounds like a decision made by someone unfamiliar with harps and thinking of them as propped up piano guts, which is unfortunate. Whoever this person is, he needs to be made aware of the correct term.

    Sylvia on #185339

    It’s probably not too important what they put in the code book. I think they just want the code to cover all types of music.
    However, it really made me wonder what other people called muffling.
    Pedal patterns are called “Salzedo diagrams.” I have always used the patterns, but I didn’t know Salzedo invented the diagram, and I wonder if he really did.

    emma-graham on #185342

    Perhaps it’s a geographical issue. I, and every other UK harpist I know, say “damp”. It’s also printed in many books published here. If I see “muffle” I know what it means but I would never use it myself.

    Tacye on #185351

    Is Salzedo diagram widespread as a term in the US? I don’t think I have ever come across it before. (And agree with Emma – damp over here, except when etouffee.)

    Sylvia on #185354

    I had never heard pedal patterns referred to as Salzedo diagrams, and Salzedo was my teacher’s teacher. (I left that camp decades ago, but pedal patterns are essential…no matter who invented them.)

    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #185379

    It is not called a Salzedo diagram, but nice to give him credit. Do we have a set name for it? I am trying to think. It’s a pedal diagram, pedal setting diagram. If it has a distinct name, it will say so in one of his books. Another way is to write the key of the setting, or if only two pedals are not in flat, to just write what those two are, but both are set off by a three-sided box around them, open on the bottom.
    Damping the strings is an old musical term, it is logical. Dampers are used in other instruments, where mufflers are worn around your neck. Damping the strings is equivalent to muffling. Damping may be more common in England.

    Marco Hilgeman on #185399

    Hi all,

    In relation to this subject there’s something I’m curious about, not about how one would name it though…but it’s obvious that damping the strings is an important thing to all harpists. And especially for the style I play, which is the Andreas Vollenweider style on electro-acoustic harp. This means a melody line on the right hand (with nails) which often includes staccato chord patterns, and the left hand (without nails) plays a bass pattern in bass guitar style (together with a drummer and percussionist, my harp forms the rhythm section of the band which is accompanied by some other instruments as well). This staccato chord patterns and bass lines obviously require a lot of damping, which is possible to do by hand as I do right up to this date, but a damping system could make it much easier and it definitely cleans up the sound.

    Now for the damping system: I include a picture of the great Vollenweider where you can check out the damping system he developed himself: it’s a felt strip over the entire length of the sound board. Vollenweider operates the mechanism with his left knee; you can see his knee close to a black box and if he pushes that box towards the strings, all the strings are dampened. From what I understood, the system’s also divided into two sections, which is not very clear on this pic, but the bass section has a separate damping mechanism; I’m not sure how he operates that section to be honest. Here the pic:

    Andreas Vollenweider

    Last year I was also approached via internet by Frank, a Norwegian harpist who had built his own electric harp and also developed a similar damping system for it, which he operates by his knee as well. I’ve heard his system and it works really well. He had also contacted Camac harps in France to see if they were interested in developing such a system, but he didn’t get an enthusiastic response right away.
    Frank and I are definitely convinced of the use of this damping system so we would like to get this system into production, making it available for all harpists.

    So my question is: could a damping system like this make its way into the harp world and would it be of any use for contemporary harpists playing various genres? I would really like to know what you guys at the forums think, as your opinions are always very valuable.

    Best of luck,

    EDIT: don’t know what went wrong, but obviously the pic was not included here, alas; well if you google Vollenweider, you’ll get some pics where you can check out the damping system…

    emma-graham on #185421

    Interesting. It seems there is so much diversity in the harp world! Of course Nicanor Zabaleta helped develop a dampening system for the wires with Horngacher harps. It is still available on their harps and is operated with an 8th pedal. I guess it could be extended to the whole harp?

    paul-knoke on #185424

    This type of damper pedal was actually developed by Wurlitzer (not Zabaleta), and was available as an option on some of their harps. Damper pedals of various sorts have cropped up intermittently since the 18th century, but none has been popular or lasting. I think it’s one of those things that seem like they might be a good idea, but then turn out to be not so useful in practice….

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