Pedal harps rule!Posted: 25 February 2012
I’ve had the privilege to play on a pedal harp during my last two lessons. It’s absolutely awesome! Perhaps this sounds a bit odd to people who’ve played the pedal harp for most of their lives, but for me it feels like a dream is coming true. I’ve always wanted to do this and now it happens!
I was most surprised by the fact that I could get sound out of it. I’ve tried a pedal harp once during a regional harp day and the tension was so high that I could barely play it. Either this harp has a much lighter tension (it’s an L&H style 85) or my finger strength improved tremendously in just a few months… (I don’t know what the reason is. Perhaps that other harp had an unreasonably high tension? :P). Of course, there’s still a big difference between me and my teacher – she can really making it sing, but I can produce more than a whisper, at the very least :).
Anyway, it sounds beautiful. I was encouraged to ‘play with it’ so I took the opportunity to improvise a little. WOW. Of course, my own harp sounds rather awful so I don’t have a good comparison, but the second octave under the central C sounds so beautiful! It really makes my heart sing. Yes, I’m being cheesy.
While playing my lesson pieces on the harp, I noticed that I really need to get used to the string spacing etc. but the difference isn’t as big as I thought it to be. Which makes everything a lot worse, as it will take at least 5-6 years before I’ll be able to afford my own pedal harp. So the wait is a lot worse now, now I’ve tasted what the real thing is like… 🙂
Also, I noticed that all the things my teacher stresses (making gestures at the end of a musical sentence, certain things regarding hand position and placing) make much more sense now. I can clearly hear the difference in sound! On the lever harp, it’s much less obvious so it’s easy to slip into bad habits again. On the pedal harp, my efforts are actually rewarded!
I also found that it is completely possible to play real folk music on the pedal harp! I can’t do triplets/trebles yet but cuts and strikes are easy to do and still sound good. When I get used to the higher tension, I’m sure I’ll be able to play fast reels and dances :). This is VERY encouraging because I was afraid that the pedal harp would somehow make playing folk impossible.
I’m too lazy to record anything now, so you won’t have to suffer my harp plucking for at least one post :).