Yes, I’m still playing the harp!

I realized that I’ve posted only two audio clips of myself playing the harp, so I decided to record a few more. That was about three weeks ago. This internship is really intensive! I’ve hardly got the time to practise regularly and I’d rather practise new pieces for my lesson than record the old ones. Anyway, I managed to record one, so here for your listening pleasure (or not!).

It’s Danses d’ Automne II. Even though I’ve spent many hours on it, it still sounds kind of lame, so my teacher and I agreed to move on to the next one. It still sounds a lot better than the previous recording, doesn’t it? 🙂

One of my major points of improvement (or whatever, I’m just using touchy-feely-medicine-speak) is dynamics. Somehow, I’m VERY BAD at it. During improvisation etc. it just comes naturally, but as soon as I learn a piece from sheet music, all dynamics go right out of the window and I manage to play pp parts extremely ff and vice versa. It seems as though I can’t do it anymore when I have to. Of course, I practise a lot on it, and then I manage to make parts sound a bit different from each other – but it’s nothing compared to how good harpists play. They make the piece come alive, transcend the notes – they can make an etude sound interesting an refreshing by their dynamic control. Yes, my teacher is such a harpist – it’s a real privilege to watch her play (and fortunately, she’s happy to play for me!). Sitting there and hearing the beautiful sounds she produces (do you know how awesome a pedal harp sounds when you hear it IRL instead of via youtube? It sounds beautiful) is a real inspiration. And I could blather on and on about the wonders of harp music and how awesome it is…

Things I’m currently working on: Danses d’ automne #3 (that one is DIFFICULT. Poor neighbours.), Rigaudon from Automates (compared to Danses, the Automates are easy) and Gigue from Marcel Grandjany’s petite suite classique.

That Gigue is really interesting. First of all, it’s actually quite easy, I can actually sightread it. BUT then the lever changes come. And suddenly, this easy-peasy piece of music is reduced to a wreck of dynamics (because, of course, when your left hand is flipping the lever, how can you still control the dynamics in the right hand?). So I will never mentally complain again that I don’t learn anything from these pieces – it’s probably a good preparation for when I finally get to play a pedal harp , after all, then you need to do pedal changes without messing up everything in your hands. The suite from Marcel Grandjany is also interesting because it contains interesting chord progressions (cadenzas?) because it was actually written for pedal harp (hence the need for lever changes). In the Gigue, it only goes to the harmonic minor and back to the normal minor (aeolian mode?), but in the Joyful Overture, it goes somewhere else (don’t know where, sorry for the lack of theory!) which was very interesting.

Sometimes, I wonder whether I’ll ever achieve my goal… but I convince myself that I need to keep practising, keep working and I’ll eventually get there.



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