We love that composers like to experiment with the instrument and see what it can create! We have listed a few, but always welcome more!
What is P.D.L.T?
P.D.L.T. not to be confused with 'bass of the chord' means to play as close to the soundboard as possible. This can create a little subtle change to your peice or an entirely new sound world. This sound is often associated with medieval, precussive, folk type sound. Playing at the base of the string means to play somewhere inbetween the middle and bass of the string. This is more subtle but can still create beautiful timres. Harpists can play anywhere on the strings creating subtle changes in timbre. This is a fantastic way to make repeated notes travel and create a story without changing dynamic.
Can harps Bisbigliando?
Yes! But it works best on the higher notes to avoid buzzing.
What harmonics can a harpist play?
This is one of the most common techniques used on the harp. It creates a beautiful tone that is almost uncreatable on any other instrument. By using the bottom part of the hand or knuckle of the finger a harpist can stop the string to create different notes using one string. The noise created is almost like a chime or bell. It is a very delicate and open sound.
How are harmonics on the harp indicated?
A harmonic is indicated by placing a small circle above the note/notes that are to be played as a harmonic.
Which strings are best to use for harmonics?
Harmonics are best on the lower gut strings. This is because the there is more room to create the harmonic. On the higher strings the hand becomes cramped and the string has less length to vibrate. Wire strings do create harmonics however these are not the same timbre as the gut strings.
How many harmonics can be played at any one time?
A harpist can play four harmonics at any one time. However this is tricky and repeated quickly will not allow the harp to sound to its optimum. The change in hand position also makes it tricky to move between regular notes and harmonics.
Can harpists use fingernails?
Harpists use the 'squishy' part of their fingers to create a resonant full sound. Playing with nails creates an entirely new sound. Harpists do not usually have long nails therefore the change between pads and nails is sometimes tricky. But the results can be fantastic. Things to be aware of when writing with nails are:
Make sure the harpist has more time. Because most harpists have short nails it is hard for them to play with them and extra care must be taken.
Chords with nails are possible but can be tricky due to placement
Playing with nails in both hands can be very difficult especially if the notes are fast.
You can also write glissandi with nails for a sharper more precussive sound.
Playing with pads (Suishy part)
Playing with nails
Project Director - Fran Barsby Photography by David Rann (Fotofilia Studios) Copyright Future Blend Project 2014
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