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Purchasing a Harp

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poetlady 17 Dec 02 - 01:19 AM
BlueJay 17 Dec 02 - 02:45 AM
black walnut 17 Dec 02 - 07:27 AM
poetlady 17 Dec 02 - 07:58 PM
harpmaker 18 Dec 02 - 05:37 PM
poetlady 19 Dec 02 - 02:11 AM
GUEST,Jim Clark..London..England 19 Dec 02 - 04:58 AM
black walnut 19 Dec 02 - 07:05 AM
GUEST,leeneia 19 Dec 02 - 06:23 PM
poetlady 20 Dec 02 - 03:34 AM
black walnut 20 Dec 02 - 07:36 AM
poetlady 20 Dec 02 - 05:58 PM
Helen 21 Dec 02 - 12:00 AM
GUEST,leeneia 21 Dec 02 - 09:50 AM
black walnut 21 Dec 02 - 10:05 AM
black walnut 21 Dec 02 - 10:07 AM
black walnut 04 Jan 03 - 10:54 AM
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Subject: Purchasing a Harp
From: poetlady
Date: 17 Dec 02 - 01:19 AM

I was wondering if anyone could recommend a place to buy a reasonably priced harp in Colorado. I know purchasing harps was discussed in another thread which provided several links, but I've never played one before and would feel more comfortable if I could meet it in person. Thank you.


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Subject: RE: Purchasing a Harp
From: BlueJay
Date: 17 Dec 02 - 02:45 AM

poetlady- If you are anywhere near the Denver area, I'd give a call to the Swallow Hill Music Association. I don't think they sell instruments, but they are a great group, sponsoring all sorts of lessons, probably including harp. They also give concerts from top traditional musicians, and I'm sure they could help you, or else they know someone who can. You could also call the Denver Folklore Center, a music store that's been around forever. I bet they sell harps, or know who does. I know one harp builder in Denver, who makes fine harps, but they may be too expensive for you. His name is Rick Rubarth. Sorry I can't give you any of the phone #'s. But (thankfully), I know longer own a Denver set of Denver phone books.

I'll find Rick's number and PM it to you. He would be a great one to talk to even if you don't buy one of his harps. He could probably steer you to the best source for whatever type of harp you are looking for. (I guess I'm assuming you mean "harps", as opposed to autoharps. If you are looking for an autoharp, Roz Brown is the guy to talk to in Denver). Even if you live outside of Denver, I'll bet any of these folks would be happy to help you. Thanks, BlueJay


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Subject: RE: Purchasing a Harp
From: black walnut
Date: 17 Dec 02 - 07:27 AM

Don't sacrifice quality for the 'reasonable price'. Sacrifice fancy looks instead. You want something that sounds good and works well or you won't enjoy playing it for very long. BlueJay's given you some great leads. Enjoy the hunt!

~b.w.


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Subject: RE: Purchasing a Harp
From: poetlady
Date: 17 Dec 02 - 07:58 PM

Thank you both very much. I think the information you've provided will prove very helpful.


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Subject: RE: Purchasing a Harp
From: harpmaker
Date: 18 Dec 02 - 05:37 PM

Make shure you buy a harp with a solid spruce soundboard, as opposed to a laminate soundboard - is good advice, also, semitone levers are a real advantage. Make shure the neck and pillar though, ARE laminated.This is what I do.


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Subject: RE: Purchasing a Harp
From: poetlady
Date: 19 Dec 02 - 02:11 AM

harpmaker, they're very beautiful!


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Subject: RE: Purchasing a Harp
From: GUEST,Jim Clark..London..England
Date: 19 Dec 02 - 04:58 AM

As a lover of the harp sound myself and as you say you've never played one yourself i'd say go for a good multi voice keyboard instead...you'll much more easily get the same sounds without all the trouble of learning how to tune and play such a lovely but complex instrument....I have a Yamaha psr 1000 keyboard which can mimic very convincingly the sounds of most instrument...it mimics the sounds of several kinds of harp toboot...you can hear some examples as accompaniaments to several of the poems at my "acoustic musicians and poets sound archive"

Regards..

Jim Clark..
acoustic musicians and poets sound archive


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Subject: RE: Purchasing a Harp
From: black walnut
Date: 19 Dec 02 - 07:05 AM

All the trouble? There's nothing to compare to the feel and sound of a real harp...sorry. I play many different instruments, keyboards included, but the one instrument that is my passion, that I love to play the most, when I am alone or with others, is my harp. It holds the most magic. I didn't start to play it until I was in my forties, and I'm glad I didn't let

Tuning is not much trouble with a clipped~on electronic tuner (clipped on just while tuning, so that extraneous noises do not interfere). And with a good teacher, you can make some very satisfying music right early on. Also, a lever harp isn't so complicated. Maybe Jim you're thinking of a concert pedal harp.

~b.w.


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Subject: RE: Purchasing a Harp
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 19 Dec 02 - 06:23 PM

Well, I've tried playing harp and I hang out with harpers, so I know a few things.

The first thing poetlady needs to do is to locate a folk harp and try playing it. She might find that she doesn't like it at all. That's what I found. A harp is romantic, but having the strings jut out a couple feet out in front of you can be uncomfortable. Some people like it, some don't.

Next, if she doesn't hava a teacher, she could develop bad habits which will inhibit her playing or worse yet, cause hand or shoulder problems. A person needs a few lessons, at least.

The Sylvia Woods books someone mentioned are not highly thought of.   They say that Sylvia is not consistent in her approach, "doesn't even know herself how she will finger a phrase."

Then there's the question of what physical shape she's in. I know people who fall in love with a harp in the store, then don't take it anywhere (say to a workshop) because it's too much work. So watch out for that pitfall.

I think the best thing she could do is to locate the nearest chapter of the American Harp Society and then start hanging out with harpers, too.


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Subject: RE: Purchasing a Harp
From: poetlady
Date: 20 Dec 02 - 03:34 AM

I have not really enjoyed the keyboard too very much. I'm glad some folks play them, but I prefer not to, myself.

Oh, I don't mind toting it about. How much would you say they weigh, out of curiosity? It could prove unpleasant, I suppose, but I wouldn't let that discourage me.


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Subject: RE: Purchasing a Harp
From: black walnut
Date: 20 Dec 02 - 07:36 AM

Sorry about my unfinished sentence above. I must have gone out for a coffee.

Harp weight depends on the size of the harp (number of strings), and the builder. Mine is a 36 string but weights only about 21 lbs. It fits across the back seat of my car (an important consideration). It has a very good carrying case (another important consideration). Many similarly sized harps weigh much more than that.

The issue of strings jutting out in front was something that I found to be quite disconcerting at first. But it was just a matter of time for it to feel comfortable to look at an instrument from back to front rather than side to side.

I agree that a good teacher is far better than any method book. The Woods book is certainly popular, but not my cup of tea. Leeneia is right...it is very important to play and carry a harp properly to avoid injury. A teacher who plays the style of harp you enjoy is very important (don't expect a strictly classical harpist to teach you improvization of folk melodies), but also a teacher who can help you with good playing habits. That goes for any instrument, not just the harp.

~b.w.


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Subject: RE: Purchasing a Harp
From: poetlady
Date: 20 Dec 02 - 05:58 PM

Well, my niece (who often needs to be removed from places, because like all children, she gets into things, sometimes fragile expensive things :) ) weighs more than that, so it should be ok. I certainly do intend to get a teacher, because I'd be quite at a loss without one. :)


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Subject: RE: Purchasing a Harp
From: Helen
Date: 21 Dec 02 - 12:00 AM

Jim Clark,

I disagree about keyboards too. Nothing can replace that sympathetic vibration in your heart and body which comes from holding and playing a harp. Putting your ear against the soundbox as you ripple your fingers along the strings and feeling the music is a unique feeling, unable to be duplicated by playing a keyboard. There is more to playing instruments than just the sound.

Lots of good advice here. Leeneia is right about having to feel comfortable looking at the strings from the side. The feel of the instrument in your hands, and resting against your shoulder has to be right for you, too. Try to find a harp that you can play with to see if it suits you. Also, you need to consider how many strings you are looking for. For melody and accompaniment 34-36 strings is a really good option, but if price, size or weight have to be kept down, and mobility is an issue then you may opt for less strings. I personally wouldn't consider less than 26 strings. My smaller harp has 28 which is good but still requires a bit of forethought in fitting chords and melodies together so that my two hands don't run into each other.

Sylvia woods Harp Center has lots of harps to try, or there are other harp or general music shops which would be worth visiting to sit down and try a few different harps.

Again, if price is an issue a good but cheaper option is to get a kit harp - you can get them in various stages of completion. My larger (34 string) was made from Cambria Harp plans from Markwood, now available through Mountain Glen Harps.



      Click here

http://members.aol.com/harpkits/cambria.htm

Helen


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Subject: RE: Purchasing a Harp
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 21 Dec 02 - 09:50 AM

Sounds like you are okay on the issue of moving a harp around, poetlady. Keep in mind that the rest of us don't know anything about you - how old you are, what your health is, whether you are petite or robust.

Another thing to find out is how much replacement strings cost and where you will get them.

Are there any harpers near you whose harp you could try?

As for the statement, "don't expect a strictly classical harpist to teach you improvization of folk melodies," I think that's rather silly. The kind of improvisation we see in a Sylvia Woods book, for example, is based on well-known forms and can be taught by any qualified teacher. Who hasn't taken piano lessons and learned about the I, IV and V chords?


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Subject: RE: Purchasing a Harp
From: black walnut
Date: 21 Dec 02 - 10:05 AM

Why is that silly? I have a classical music degree. My (classical) piano and flute teachers didn't teach me to improvize. My harp teacher who is excellent at both classical harp and improvized Celtic/South American harp styles. She has taught me to play by ear, but not using any book at all during the first year of lessons. One year after beginning to play harp, I performed thirtysome pieces with a viola player for a wedding (service and reception). I accompanied him by ear. I could never have done that if I had had a 'strictly' classical harp teacher. There's a bit more to it than knowing I, IV and V.

The weight of a harp is deceiving because of how one needs to carry it on one side. It's not quite the same as carrying a child. It doesn't wrap it's arms around you to help out, either.

~b.w.


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Subject: RE: Purchasing a Harp
From: black walnut
Date: 21 Dec 02 - 10:07 AM

(Sorry about the grammar. I should remember to proofread).


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Subject: RE: Purchasing a Harp
From: black walnut
Date: 04 Jan 03 - 10:54 AM

So, poetlady, have you found yourself a harp yet?

~b.w.


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