Venezuelan Harp Technique

Posted In: How To Play

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    radenwa on #226783

    Hi everyone, rather new here…

    So recently I watched that BBC documentary on harp. What intrigued me most however was when they got to the Venezuelan Harp. I can see lots of two-handed quickly muted triplets and playing with thumb, but what I can’t figure out is their really percussive left hand technique.

    You can see it at around 32:09, and another at around 34:50 … what I see is that it’s playing a chord then quickly muting it, but I can never make it sound as loud and resonant as theirs, it almost sounds like a snare drum.

    Does anyone know of this technique or can figure out how it’s done? Or maybe it’s only possible on this specific kind of harp due to the string or the build?

    Thanks in advance for entertaining my curiosity…

    Biagio on #226792

    Alfredo Rolando Ortiz discusses that and other South American effects in his DVD “Special Effects for All Harps.” Unfortunately it is no longer offered by Dr. Ortiz but you may be able to find a used copy somewhere. Alternatively, there may be instructive videos on Yutube – for instance by Edmar Castaneda. It’s a harp version of Slap Bass which is more commonly seen by guitarists – but then SA harp music imitates the guitar in many ways.

    You could also study this piece by Jonathan Fanganello – the video is taken from the side which makes it easier to visualize.

    It’s true that the SA harp is characterized by very loose bass strings and a very wide sound box which enhance that booming percussive sound; but you can certainly use the technique on any other harp (not metal strung though haha).

    If you feel you really want to play an SA harp they are not expensive; happily Dusty Strings has recently come out with their version.


    radenwa on #226795

    Ah, I see, do you know if there’s an exact term for that that I can use as a keyword when I search?

    EDIT: I found it, it’s called Bordoniado as mentioned in . Can’t find any tutorial on it, but I can kinda guess how it’s done.

    So it seems the booming sound really is due to the build of the harp… I do notice that SA Harps are a lot taller in the bass area, I reckon that’s how they get the booming slap bass sound.

    Thanks for all the help!

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 1 month ago by radenwa.
    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #229191

    Or maybe the guitar imitates the harp?

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