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One simple question

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  • #87039
    unknown-user
    Participant

    I am not a harp player but i need to know this bc i am trying to compose something for harp…

    So what is the fastes rate of plucking one string more times? I don’t know if i explain this good. How fast you can pluck ONE same string more times in a row??
    I assume that lower strings are harder to pull

    #87040

    Playing repeated notes is difficult in any range of the harp.

    #87041

    If you want to write well for the harp, avoid repeating the same string within two beats. The more you keep your line moving around the instrument, the better it will sound. In time you will master the subtelties, but in learning to write for the harp, do what you know will work and build on that. You can make an excellent piece out of the same resources that Tchaikovsky used: scales, arpeggios, glissandi, melody and standard patterns. It’s all in what you say with them.

    #87042
    john-strand
    Participant

    If you want to try the repeated note idea, (and I am assuming you are writing for pedal harp)

    #87043
    vince-pierce
    Participant

    Take a look at the Debussy Danses. There are sections with fast repeated notes in the second movement, and he uses enharmonics, harmonics, and octaves very creatively. I think they might be written differently in different editions, but the Durand edition (which I believe was edited by Henriette Renié). If you can’t find a copy, I could scan pages and e-mail them to you. As a composer myself, I would love to help you out!

    #87044
    unknown-user
    Participant

    Well thanks everybody for the explanations. It really keep me thinking about what John Strand write about problems of composing… I will try to keep that in mind all the time.

    As for Vince Pierce you are problably more expierenced composer than me so if you like you can contact me on my e-mail. About the music scores you talk about, yes you can send that to me on my mail and also if you have some mp3 of

    #87045

    Yes, but those are the most difficult and trying sections of the Danses! I think it is important as a composer not to copy the exceptional or extreme examples, but to work from a secure place. We can catch at a string just played, but it is hard to make it clean-sounding, and doing it over and over is exhausting. This Little Babe is evocative, but rather a nightmare to keep clean, and the buzzing interferes with projecting the right notes. On the other hand, bisbigliando and trills are timeworn safe devices with repetition. Having space between notes so the strings can continue ringing is a sure way to have the music and the harp sound evocative and fully colorful. So, therefore, in general, I would allow at least one beat between repeated notes at 72 or slower to the beat, until you are completely sure of playability.

    #87046
    john-strand
    Participant

    Hi again – here is a link I ran across with a couple of demonstrations that you might find interesting –

    http://www.philharmonia.co.uk/thesoundexchange/the_orchestra/strings/harps/techniques/

    You can probably surf this site for

    #87047
    David Ice
    Participant

    Regarding “This Little Babe” I was told by David Watkins (who knew Britten) that the repeated chords are supposed to be buzzy and “nasty”….they are machine guns in a war!

    #87048
    vince-pierce
    Participant

    Yes, you are completely right – I think he can use those sections of the Danses as an example of sort of the technical limit regarding repeated notes. It’s a great piece for anyone to hear, though.

    At the same time, repeated notes that do not necessarily ring for their natural duration can have a particular effect, like David Ice refers to. My first harp composition employs repeated notes this way, where they sound a little buzzy and nasty. It helps dispel the idea that harps are for angels 🙂

    Danilo, I will be glad to send you those things, as well as a recording – it may take some time, though, with school and all. I’ll get to work on it!

    #87049
    unknown-user
    Participant

    Thanks again All. And thanks for the internet link… Yea it is really amaizing what you can find on the cyberworld…

    I am progresing a little slow on my composition but it will be done soon… Also i have a problem with my computer so i don;t know when i will be on the net but if you have something interesting and halpfull send on my mail!!!

    Thanks!

    #87050

    On lightly strung harps, it is possible to play three repeated notes (a fast triplet) on the same string by strumming the string with a succession of alternate fingers, such as 4, 3, 2. Many Scottish harpers can do this technique. On South American harps, the same string can be strummed backwards and forwards with the front and back of the same finger. However, pedal harps are strung much more tightly, and the strings do not speak as quickly. It is still possible to do the same techniques but the results are not very satisfactory. If you really want to repeat a note that has no enharmonic, you could do octave trills, or have nothing else in the bass clef, so that the left and right hand can alternate. Aaron Copland uses a repeated note that has no enharmonic in one of his orchestra pieces, and it’s just the right speed that it can be done with one hand, by placing the thumb on the note above and playing the second finger.

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