the irish trill

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    Manou Liebert

    I’m a classically trained pedal harpist and now have a very gifted student, who is mainly interested in irish folk. I can do a lot with him but we’re starting to get into virtuoso territory now, and I’m missing some elementary irish ornamentation techniques. Especially the 432 trill on the same string. I tried to figure it out by myself but it never sounds as clear as I can hear it in recordings.

    Anybody got some help? I’m very willing to learn myself so that I can teach.


    If you’re trying to do these on your pedal harp, that is part of the problem. They sound much clearer and are easier to execute on a lighter-strung Irish style harp. Keep your fingers (4,3,2) right near the string and aim to pluck in the same spot, one finger right after the other. The finger action must be quick-you won’t have time to pull your fingers into the palm. Grainne calls these a treble, rather than a trill.


    Some great books that employ this technique that would also be challenging:

    Grainne Hambly’s “Traditional Irish Music Arranged for Harp” vols. 1-2
    Michael Rooney’s “Harp Tunes Vol. 1”


    Kathy is very good at this, but I must confess I’m absolutely abysmal at it, even after a lesson on them with Grainne. She did try to console me by remarking that pedal harpists often have a hard time.

    Another good audience piece that uses this to much effect is Laura Zaerr’s Celtic Concerto.

    Manou Liebert

    thank you very much. I’m gonna try it on my little harp first then.

    Seoid OC

    Does your student play a pedal or a lever harp?

    Abby Kent

    I am a Celtic harper who took up the pedal harp in the last 2 years, and I was the US National Scottish Harp “Pre-Professional” (Journeyman level) winner

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