Posted In: Amateur Harpists

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    Geri McQuillen on #161336

    I’m hoping to be at a level within this next year that I can feel comfortable playing in small venues, such as street fairs, art festivals, pubs, etc.

    renate-kvalsvik on #161337

    You should maybe look into some music by O’Carolan (1670-1738), a very famous Irish harper and composer. There is a music book by Sylvia Woods: “40 O’Carolan Tunes For All Harps”, which has two arrangements of every song, one easy and one more advanced, and you can play them after each other to make a varied set. I love his tunes, you can do a search on Youtube and see what I mean.

    jennifer-buehler on #161338

    I highly recommend any of Beth Kolle’s books.

    Geri McQuillen on #161339

    Thank you both for the suggestions.

    harpglo-jean on #161340

    Hi Geri,

    If you can play lead sheets, check out O’Neill’s Music of Ireland, 1850 free celtic tunes in lead sheet form, (there might be a few with bass clef also, and a few O’Carolan tunes are included also).

    Audrey Nickel on #161341

    I can tell you one thing…as a traditional Irish musician, I would run screaming in the opposite direction if I heard someone playing “Danny Boy” (aka the so-called “London” Derry Air).

    Geri McQuillen on #161342

    Thank you Gloria and Audrey.

    Geri McQuillen on #161343


    Audrey Nickel on #161344

    The tune that “Danny Boy” is supposed to have been drawn from (“Aislinn an Oigfhear” in Modern Irish…The Young Man’s Dream) bears so little resemblence to it that they’re really not recognizable as being related, unless one is really stretching things.

    liath-hollins on #161345

    I agree, Danny Boy is dire…

    However, Geri’s post is asking which traditional songs are most requested – and sadly, that one is top of the list! I’ve got jobs before solely on the basis that I can play it… it’s usually someone’s grandad’s favourite tune 😉

    Other traditional tunes that are much requested for me are :

    Wild Mountain Thyme
    Greensleeves (yawn)
    Linden Lea
    The Ash Grove
    Barbara Allen
    Waly Waly/Water is Wide
    Star of the County Down
    Scarborough Fair
    Lovely Joan
    My Love is Like A Red, Red Rose
    Oh Rowan Tree
    Skye Boat Song
    She Moved Through the Fair

    (These aren’t necessarily ‘Celtic’ – but as Britain is a small place, there isn’t always a distinction in the public mind)

    Much as I love Carolan, the general public don’t request it because they’ve never heard of it.

    Audrey Nickel on #161346

    I’m sorry, but I simply can’t stand the tune.

    Briggsie B. Peawiggle on #161347

    I like it too, Tess. There are a lot of jigs that make me want to do what Danny Boy makes you want to do, Audrey.

    Karen Johns on #161348

    Some songs in my rep are the following:

    Down by the Salley Gardens (Irish)

    The Gentle Maiden (Irish)

    The Ash Grove (Welsh)

    The Butterfly (Irish)

    Land O’ The Leal (Scottish)

    Archibald MacDonald of Keppoch (Scottish)

    The Water Is Wide- O Waly, Waly (English, Scottish)

    Scarborough Fair (English), paired with The Next Market Day (Irish)

    Greensleeves (English), paired with The Grenadier and The Lady (English)

    Hope this helps! Best of luck to you :-)


    sherry-lenox on #161349

    Somewhat OT- there is a lovely set of songs by Vaughn Williams that includes “Linden Lea”. I did them 83 years ago as part of my college graduation recital. Well it feels that way anyhow. Also “Bright Is the Ring of Words”. Unfortunately it was written for baritone but we altos are used to singing all sorts of oddly misplaced lyrics.

    I like “Danny Boy” if it’s done simply with a nice accomp. I make no apologies either. Taste is taste. I promise not to criticize anyone else’s choices and we can all afford to be polite.

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