New harpist introduction

Posted In: Amateur Harpists

  • Participant
    randal on #156208

    Greetings, I’m a 50 year-old stay-at-home father and active on a couple of other music instrument forums–enjoy discussions on wide ranging musical subjects.

    Ive been in love with musical instruments since the age of 7 when school-based arts instruction was still a priority in public schools and I was provided a saxophone on which I excelled. But it only lasted a few years until I began studying guitar. I later studied all stringed folk instruments as well as doublebass and fiddle. I’ve played in ensembles of all kinds including salsa, reggae, Dixie-style ragtime, rock, blues, country, Irish trad, Scandi and American traditional styles.

    I’ve always wanted to play harp, but never committed as I was always too occupied with all the other instruments, as well as a large hammered dulcimer on which I assuaged my ear for harp tunes and learned a repertoire of O’carolan tunes–which I’ve collected over the last twenty or so years and play on many instruments including HD, fiddle, mandolins, flute, concertinas, and of course guitar. But what I’ve always wanted was a harp, but I never located a wire-strung and always maintained long nails on my right hand for classical and flamenco guitar.

    Well, a couple of years ago I finally gave up playing solo guitar–as I rarely practiced as I was having too much fun with folk music. Now that I had finally devoted myself increasingly to folk music, the problem was that my hammered dulcimer is too unwieldy for many playing opportunities–it weighs 40 pounds. Finally acquired a modest 22 string but ideal for travel and tutoring my kids.

    It’s everything I’ve imagined it would be: i find that it satisfies my tactile need to have strings in my hands, as well as being very intuitive. I immediately set about learning my O’carolan repertoire. For better or worse, my hammered dulcimer will be going unplayed now–but what I really wanted was to be able to play my repertoire conveniently…which the lap harp affords.

    I’m becoming increasingly immersed in Irish traditional music as I also play fiddle, concertina, and a bit of flute. I find there is tremendous depth of expression in this idiom–and with my harp enough to satisfy me most of the time (I also gig in various bands for fun and currently play keys/synths in a weekly performing ensemble, so I have lots of opportunities to assuage my musical imagination).

    But the harp satisfies like no other, frankly (as I’m sure you all know). Sorry for the long rant!

    Cheers, randal

    kay-lister on #156209


    Welcome to the forum!

    randal on #156210

    Thank you Kay–yes I’m kinda bad that way…I never saw a musical instrument that didn’t captivate my imagination and compel me to try to learn it. Funny–all the times I considered taking up harp (beginning at lesst 20 yesrs ago!) I justified avoiding it because I didn’t want to take on yet another new system…now, I can’t recall how many instruments I’ve learned in the interim. But, I always had the nylon string guitar impeding me, I think, which feels to me enough commonality with harp that I didn’t want to do both. So, I’ve been in the “contemplation” stage of harping for a very long time–which is very unusual for me as I typically assuage any compulsion for musical curiosity by diving right in when the inspiration is there.

    Harp is a bit unique, I think, in that–unlike most instruments–contemplation or mental imagery can actually translate into productive technical progress on the instrument–as its technique is so straightforward, like a piano. So when I first got the harp in my hands it felt exactly like I’d imagined it and many of the technical elements such as chords, arpeggios, hand positioning, finger placement were natural after a lifetime of nylon string guitar. One challenge of course is bringing along the left hand, but I’m pleased to find this rapidly developing.

    Mind you, I’m only playing folk harp–I’m not aspiring to play some of the same repertoire as I did on guitar…Bach, Debussy, Ravel, Satie (lovely as these are on the harp!)

    rod-c on #156211



    randal on #156212

    Thanks Rod

    jessica-wolff on #156213

    I play guitar, harp and banjo and picked them up in that order. They complement each other. Would not want to drop any one of them, though in a desert-island scenario, I would choose the harp.

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