Musical range.

Posted In: Amateur Harpists

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    unknown-user on #161000

    Hi! Have encountered several systems of defining musical range, which is of course very relevant in the harp world, with the different sized instruments with different ranges. One of the best I have come across, and apologies, I can’t recall where it was, is this one:

    It’s based on the piano-the lowest note, an A, is designated A1, the next A#1 or Bb1, then B1, C1, up to G#1 or Ab1. Then the next chromatic octave goes A2 to G#2, next A3 to G#3, and so on right to the top note. Middle C is C4.

    For playing songs, in my experience, a minimum range is C3-A6, while C3-C6 or D6 is better. This gives adequate bass, and such a harp should still be lap-harp size.

    What do others think?

    andy-b on #161001

    I’ve not ever seen that particular way of noting range. The most common one for harps starts with the lowest note of a concert grand being C7, and going up to g00, with each octave numbered from the F to the E (C7, D7, E7, F6, G6, A6, etc). It’s also common to reference just the number of strings or octaves above and below middle C – Two octaves below middle C to three octaves above, for example.

    I’ve always loved lap harps and admired those who play them. I love watching and listening to beautiful music coming from such a small harp. For my own personal playing, I prefer at least five octaves. I play my 44 string Camac more than my 34 string lever harp, but everyone’s different in what they like. That’s what makes the world of the harp so interesting.

    Tacye on #161002

    It makes rather more sense if you think that the harp string naming
    starts at the top at 1st E -the top string on many early pedal harps
    which I assume is when this convention started.

    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #161003

    The Harvard Dictionary gives the designations as OO for the lowest octave, from the “Great C” on the piano downward (CBA), then O for the next higher, then 1, then 2. It is the opposite of our string ordering designations, but it is a standard for all instruments.

    william-weber on #161004

    A concert grand harp goes down to C7? Using the string convention Blevins Harps does, where C5 is one octave below Middle C, this places C7 as the lowest C on the piano. Does a concert grand harp really go this low?

    carl-swanson on #161005

    I just looked at my piano keyboard to verify what you said, and yup, the harp goes down as far as the lowest C on the piano.

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