Ogden tension question

  • Participant
    Aleisha Cassidy on #246584

    Hi all,

    I may have found a Lyon and Healy Ogden harp available in my area. I have never played a higher tension harp, and I wanted to ask for input from those who have. I am still a beginner and I would like to be able to play folk music. My question would be whether or not the Ogden would be suitable for playing faster folk tunes as well as classical pieces. I adore the sound of the Ogden, but it is important to me to be able to comfortably play folk tunes.
    Thank you for any input!

    Participant
    wil-weten on #246589

    Hi Aleisha, the L&H Ogden harp has pedal gut string tension. One must be a very accomplished harp player to be able to play fast folk tunes on it. This harp is much better suited for playing classical pieces.

    Participant
    Aleisha Cassidy on #246594

    Good to know – thank you for your reply!

    Participant
    harpist123 on #246596

    Hi, Aleisha! I have played folk tunes on both the Ogden and my current Triplett Eclipse. I think it depends on just what a person considers “fast”, and if “fast” means lots of embellishments. Then I would say that it is far more difficult to play quick-paced embellishments on the Ogden than it would be on a lighter tension nylon strung harp. I play a variety of folk tunes, traditional tunes, etc. I don’t consider myself an “accomplished” harpist, but was able to play satisfying folk music on either harp. I do not play classical music. I am older now, and play my Triplett almost exclusively: (1) I love the sound (2) the lighter tension saves my fingers and hands from some of the pain that results from higher strung harps at my age (of which I have 2 — L&H Style 100 Pedal harp, and Pratt Chamber harp), and by pain I mean achy hands after playing a 1-2 hr gig). I loved my Ogden when I had it, and sold it so I could purchase the Pratt (also high tension) but BIG SOUND which I needed for playing gigs without amplification. Then I bought the Triplett Eclipse, lighter tension, nice big sound with lots of bass and clear higher register, but higher tension from some other nylon strung harps I tried. I love the flexibility it offers, for both quicker embellishments and hands and fingers that don’t ache after playing for a couple hours. Also something to consider is, you say you are a beginner. If folk music is what moves you, perhaps you are still learning technique and will master speed later, which means you could learn the technique at a slower speed on a harp that gives you the sound you currently love. I have enjoyed playing a simpler style/version of folk tunes on my higher tension Pratt harp to accommodate my level of playing along with the higher tension. You could do this. However, as time goes on (as it always does), you may just want to find yourself a folk harp later on, as I did. There really is no right or wrong way (at least not in my opinion). It is all about individuality and what moves and resonates with you. When you listen to alot of traditional music (and folk tunes) played on the harp, you will hear how most of these musicians are playing on folk harps (or lever harps) that have a lighter tension and are typically nylon strung. All the best to you, and enjoy making your decision. I would say in conclusion that I find my Triplett more conducive to folk and traditional music (sound), regardless of whether you are playing fast or slow tunes. But that is my own personal preference. That’s what I enjoy about this forum. Hearing what moves us as individuals 🙂

    Participant
    balfour-knight on #250540

    I am one harpist who likes good tension on my strings! I use pretty traditional classical technique which works well for all kinds of music. I can play “fast” on my Camac Atlantide Prestige concert grand pedal harp or my Dusty Strings FH36S. Of course I do not use my nails like some Celtic harp players do, and in that event, you might need lighter tension strings more like on a guitar to get the sound you desire.

    I hope this helps. I play all kinds of music on both my harps and do not worry too much about a certain type of harp for a certain kind of music. I guess it is sort of like playing harpsichord music on a piano, or piano music on a harp–I say, whatever you like, ha, ha! Of course, for more formal, academic, period performances of great music, it is far better to have the authentic instruments on which to play.

    Have a great day!
    Balfour

    Participant
    Aleisha Cassidy on #250548

    @Harpist123 – thank you so much for this wholesome response! I really appreciate it. I think it’s easy to get caught up in what’s “right” or “wrong.”But I think you’re right in the fact that there is no right or wrong way to go about learning – I think I am going to take your advise and go for the sound that I like best. 🙂

    @Balfour – thank you for the response! I went and tried the Ogden, and I find that I actually like the higher tension as I previously had the habit of pulling the strings a little to hard. Glad to know that any style of music can be played on any harp!

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