How To Play

Index

      TETRACHORDS FOR THE LEFT HAND.

      Following straight on from the logic of the right hand the left hand covers the same exercises with their part being notated in the bass line of exercises 9, 10 and 11. In the case of the left hand, you must link with the fourth finger or the thumb as you move from one tetrachord to the next; the fourth when in descent and the thumb when in ascent.

    Watch the position of your elbow and make certain it doesn’t drag the arm down. Keep the thumb placed as close as you can to the cusp so that the pentatonic row is always a near neighbour. You will see that there are times when the thumb can be slipped in quite high on its string; on the B-C and E-F string spaces.

      • TETRACHORDS FOR BOTH HANDS. Now that you have come to this stage it is vital to remember posture, When you are doing the following exercises, be careful that the head is held up and that the shoulders are not slumping forward. Lift the head to staighten the spine and keep in mind all those points about arm position, following through with the finger tips, keeping the palm open and staying close to the cusp.

        Very slowly and with great attention to overall evenness of tone and tempo, go through Exercises 9, 10 and 11 using both hands. Remember to keep breathing, even though you may be concentrating. Do not inject unnecessary tension into the movements. You need to consciously avoid the propensity to tighten up, all the way from the shoulders to the finger tips.

        Exercise 12 is a two handed alternating scale exercise that moves right up and down the range of your harp. It is ideal for getting the arms used to moving the entire range of the instrument, as well as training the hands to follow the line of the cusp and getting you used to the notion of the left and right hands playing the same phrase in alternating turns, up and down the full range of the harp.

         If you have a smaller harp, play as many of the notes as are covered in your range. Remember to maintain a close placement to the cusp and to support the movement  with the entire arm unit, leading up with the elbow and  downwards with the knuckles. You are aiming for a seamless passage with perfectly balanced attack, tone, volume and tempo.

        One of the most important things to develop is an absolute inaudibility of difference in the change from one hand to the other in either the tone or the tempo. To achieve this, remember to press into the tetrachord when the fingers first descend on the strings and use the strength of the whole elbow –forearm unit.

      Try the same thing in fours, which is pretty normal, and then in threes, which requires a concentrated effort to establish the correct pulse of triplets as opposed to sets of four. You will find that it helps to accent the first beat of each group of three. This exercise is a great warm-up when you first sit down at the harp.

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