Question about Jazz

Posted In: Amateur Harpists

  • Participant
    Fairy Reel on #163549

    Hey everybody,

    I’m a Celtic/Classical harpist. I listen to most kinds of music but I’ve never really gotten into Jazz. I do, however, love how jazz sounds on the harp (Carol McLaughlin rocks!). Are there any good, interemediate jazzy works out there? I’d really like to expand my repetoire. I’ve been playing just under two years and I think Carol’s stuff is still a little beyond me…and advice would be appreciated!

    Thanks, Fairy

    Participant
    Bonnie Shaljean on #163550

    Try Deborah Henson Conant’s “New Blues” – it looks a lot harder to play than it actually is, owing to the difficult-to-decipher score. But it’s very hand-friendly, has no lever-changes, and is a great audience-pleaser.

    Participant
    vince-pierce on #163551

    There is a neat piece called ‘Hot Cucumber’ by Jakez Francois (owner of Camac Harps), and you can hear it on their website. I believe you can order it from either Vanderbilt or the Harp Connection, or maybe both. It has some neat pedal slides, but it’s not fast and is very charming. Actually, I need to order it and learn it myself!
    Good luck!
    Vince

    Participant
    e-nb on #163552

    Ray Pool has arranged quite a few classics for both pedal and lever harps. Check out “American Classic Pop” volumes 1 and 2, and also “Tea At The Waldorf”, also in two volumes. I love all his stuff.

    Member
    tony-morosco on #163553

    I use both Ray Pools arrangements and Deborah Henson-Conanat’s. They are very different in approach but both do wonderful stuff. Of course for true Jazz you need to go beyond the arrangements and improvise on the melody. That is really what Jazz is all about, and many Jazz standards are just Show-tunes that have been modified and improvised over.

    Most Jazz players play from lead sheets and not from full arrangements.

    Deborah Henson-Conant has a fun little book on Jazz Improvisation that comes with a CD of backing tracks you can learn to improvise over. Also the “Idiot’s Guide To…” series of books has a very good book in improvisations and Solos.

    To really get into jazz you need a decent understanding of music theory and how to apply it on the fly. Improvising melodies, altering rhythms, using chord substitutions, are just some of the techniques that separate playing an arrangement from playing real jazz.

    Once you start, however, you will get hooked. Jazz is addictive. If you have a basic understanding of music theory then I would suggest also The Jazz Theory Book by Mark Levine. This book is like the Bible to the use of music theory in Jazz, much like the Real Books are the Bible of lead sheets of Jazz Standards.

    Another good book is Cool Chords and Groovy Rhythms by Verlene Shermer which shows how to “Jazz” up tunes on lever harp. It can easily be applied to pedal harp as well.

    Participant
    Fairy Reel on #163554

    Thanks so much, everybody! You’ve all been a great help. I’m looking forward to learning these great pieces. Thanks, Tony, also on the improv advice. I do a lot of chordwork in churchwork (easiest way to learn

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