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Tuning in C or Eb ?

Home Forums Teaching the Harp Tuning in C or Eb ?

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 18 total)
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  • #85968
    Indra Prabowo
    Participant

    So, today I’ve just had my first harp lesson. My teacher plays pedal harp (her harp is a beautiful gold Salvi)

    #85969
    barbara-brundage
    Participant

    It is best to tune a harp as it is designed to be tuned: for the prelude, this is E-flat. Just put your levers up to change the key to C. Aside from the fact that IMO harps that are constantly retuned to different keys often don’t hold pitch well, as a lever harpist you need to get used to what it looks like when the levers are where they need to be in different keys. If you tune in C, yah, it’s easy to find that one F-sharp lever you want, but once you go back to tuning in E-flat it’s going to disappear in the forest of raised levers. Get used to finding things now. It saves time and effort in the long run.

    Yes, the L&H levers are string busters. That’s just part of the cost of doing business, I’m afraid. If your harp was levered properly, it shouldn’t be too bad. If you keep breaking a particular string, inspect the lever. You may be able to help matters.

    #85970

    Keep it in Eb and raise the Eb, Ab and Bb levers. I don’t think you want to take a new harp and start retuning to different keys. I would want my new harp to get used to being tuned in the key of Eb for stability. It just makes good sense to tune in Eb in my opinion, for versatility sake. Besides, after a a few months, you may wish to pick up something in G or F just for the fun of it, or improvise a little on your own. Hearing music in the same key gets tedious to my ear. It probably will to you, too.

    Briggsie

    #85971
    unknown-user
    Participant

    I am not a pro or teacher, so take what I have to say with a grain of salt.

    #85972
    unknown-user
    Participant

    I should have also said that I wouldn’t do any re-tuning now.

    #85973
    barbara-brundage
    Participant

    You can play a pentatonic scale when tuned in e-flat. It’s just not the same pentatonic scale.

    #85974
    unknown-user
    Participant

    Barbara, you’re right!

    #85975
    tony-morosco
    Member

    Personally I think it all depends on what music you want to play. If you are not going to be playing in flat keys or needing accidentals in flats often then it makes sense to tune to C. Even the best levers will have an effect on tone, although many of the newer levers are much better than they used to be.

    I have three lever harps that I use for different kinds of music and one I keep in C and two in Eb.

    I agree with those who suggest not changing the tuning back and forth. What ever tuning you want to use stick with it and if it is Eb then just raise the necessary levers to play in sharp keys.

    However, I do think that if you want to tune to C for now and then at some later point tune to Eb you shouldn’t have a problem, but I would make a major change like that as part of a full restringing of the harp. It takes a while for new strings to hold their tune anyway.

    I actually did this. One of the lever harps I use now I got early on and I was taught to tune to C. Later on, many years later, I decided I wanted to try more classical music so I restrung it and tuned it to Eb. It took a couple of weeks to settle but I have had it tuned to Eb ever since and despite years of being in C it plays in Eb just fine and holds it’s tuning very well.

    The thing is not to just go back and forth, one week in C, one in Eb, the next back to C… that would just be hell for trying to keep it in tune.

    #85976

    I think it’s not just a matter of tuning but lever technique as well.

    #85977
    Indra Prabowo
    Participant

    Dearest friends,
    Thank you for all of your suggestions. My long term goal is to play classical music on my Prelude, so I think it’s best to keep it tuned in Eb.
    For avoiding repetitions of mistakes on levered strings, I think I’ll do the exercises in key of C minor instead then raised all of the levers necessary when I have quite mastered it…

    Bowie

    #85978
    barbara-brundage
    Participant

    >For avoiding repetitions of mistakes on levered strings, I think I’ll do the exercises in key of C minor instead then raised all of the levers necessary when I have quite mastered it…

    Hi, Indra. I’d recommend not doing it this way if you were a student of mine, but each to their own. The sooner you get used to what the lever setup for the key of C looks like, the better, IMHO.

    #85979
    barbara-brundage
    Participant

    >I have just started reading I Mac’s book on the blues and he recommends a special blues tuning.

    I’m curious, Heide. I don’t have his book, but he has an article on playing the blues in the latest issue of the American Harp Journal. The four blues scales he gives there are all accessible to anyone who tunes in E-flat without any special tuning. Does he advocate something else in the book?

    #85980
    unknown-user
    Participant

    It is not too far from Eb tuning: Eb, Bb and a couple of Ab, a couple of A naturals and a G#.

    #85981
    barbara-brundage
    Participant

    > Eb, Bb and a couple of Ab, a couple of A naturals and a G#

    But you can do all those with your levers with E-flat tuning. Does he want G-double sharp at some time or something like that which would require retuning the harp instead of setting those levers? The examples he gave in the article also included that scale, but the lever/pedal changes he talked about were all attainable with regular Eb tuning and lever changes, like Bb to B natural and so on.

    #85982
    unknown-user
    Participant

    Here is the scheme of I Mac’s F Blues Tuning:

    Flatten all Bs and Es.

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