What Key?

Posted In: Amateur Harpists

  • Participant
    Marisa Klages on #164257

    Hi all,

    Just got a new lever harp—what key do you tune yours too…I keep reading different opions of C vs. Eb, so I’m just curious—-

    brook-boddie on #164258

    Definitely Eb, unless your levers are just so bad that the tone of the strings is compromised too much.

    Cheryl Z. on #164259

    Hi Marisa,

    I tune the harps to C.

    jennifer-buehler on #164260

    If you don’t have enough theory to understand Eb tuning then brush up your theory especially if you want to play pedal harp or folk music.

    kay-lister on #164261

    Hello Marisa,

    I would definately go for Eb, even if you are not into changing levers yet.

    Briggsie B. Peawiggle on #164262

    When you say Eb, you really mean you tune it in

    tony-morosco on #164263

    I’m not sure what you are saying here.

    To tune a lever harp in the key of Eb means that when the levers are NOT engaged the strings are tuned as follows:

    Eb F G Ab Bb C D Eb

    It doesn’t mean tuning the C string to Eb. It means tuning the E string to Eb, the A string to Ab and the B string to Bb. All the other strings, including the C, are left tuned to natural.

    Yes, the relative minor is C minor, but I don’t know anyone who thinks of it as tuning to C minor. Most people think of it in term of the Major scale.

    But you are right, when tuned to Eb you need to raise the E, A and B levers in order to play in C Major.

    Pedal harps are not tuned to C. Without the pedals engaged a double action pedal harp is tuned to Cb Major. That is all strings flatted. When you refer to how an instrument is tuned typically that refers to how the strings sound when they are “open”, without any mechanical or physical action taken to alter the string. No levers up, no pedals engaged, no fretting or Capos or anything like that.

    unknown-user on #164264

    People with lever harps think of it as tuning to the key of Eb because when you tune

    Briggsie B. Peawiggle on #164265

    I see your point about pedal harps….didn’t think of it like that. I just think of them in C because when the pedals are in natural it’s C. Thanks for the clarification. My lever harp is tuned as you described, but I always think of it as c minor when the levers are not engaged, even though I tune it with E, A and B levers engaged. I’m glad my brain is straightened out now. 🙂


    sherry-lenox on #164266

    The concept of “key” was difficult for me because I had played transposing instruments in the keys of Bflat and Eflat most of my life. Would it be correct to say that if a harp is fully levered, there isn’t any particular advantage to tuning this way

    tony-morosco on #164267

    “Would it be correct to say that if a harp is fully levered, there isn’t any particular advantage to tuning this way”

    No, that would not be correct. With levers on a

    sherry-lenox on #164268

    Thank you! Understood! (sorta).

    tony-morosco on #164269

    Don’t worry, this stuff takes time to get. The important thing is to try. I can’t believe the number of musicians I know who don’t even bother to learn the basics of theory.

    Stick with it and eventually it will start to make sense. It all confused the heck out of me at first.

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