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SM100: Lever Harp 2000

Cover ImageLever Harp 2000
New Advanced Pieces for Lever Harp

Commissioned and edited by Danielle Perrett and David Gough the 11 pieces in this book were composed by 8 different composers of accessible but varied styles for advanced players of the lever harp. They were designed to originally to complement the Trinity College, London harp exam syllabus, from Grade 7 upwards.

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Further Information

When approached to devise a new Trinity College syllabus for small (i.e. non-pedal/lever) harp up to and including Grade Eight, I was delighted when my proposal to introduce performer’s certificate exams for the first time was given the go-ahead, but then I hit a stumbling block. Pieces for the exams have to meet strict criteria in length and parity with lists for other instruments but I found that there was a dearth of repertoire which could conform to those criteria. This book is attempt to fulfil that need and I find the wide variety of styles from composers who have brought new insights into the capabilities of the instrument both stimulating and exciting.

Their brief was to write for an instrument with 34 strings to challenge players musically and stylistically as well as technically. Most of the composers had a basic E flat major tuning of the instrument in mind, but several pieces are playable in other tunings. It is assumed that most players will make all lever changes with the left hand, but this does not rule out players who wish to use the right hand where appropriate.

Whether these pieces are used in an examination context or not, I hope they will prove to be interesting new additions to the repertoire.

Danielle Perrett, June 2000

Foreword to 2nd edition
This new edition benefits from improvements in both typesetting and printing. The type, though clearer, is slightly smaller and there are consequently fewer pages in some pieces, resulting in fewer page turns and a slight overall reduction in the number of pages in the book as a whole. Some minor errors which were previously missed have been corrected. Some suggested fingerings have been added and a few have also been changed. Unless otherwise specified by l.h. or r.h. text, fingerings below notes refer to the left hand and those above refer to the right hand.

David Gough, 2006




Lever changes are shown as diamond notes enclosed in boxes, generally on the lower stave. Where there is a clef (usually treble) also inside the box next to the note, this relates only to the lever change, and the following normal notes revert to the existing clef. Of course, clefs not in boxes indicate genuine changes of clef which apply both to diamond and normal notes.

As levers will usually be operated one at a time, multiple lever changes are generally slightly spaced apart. However, in some cases, they may be shown as a ‘chord’ of diamond notes. This is purely for layout reasons and does not imply that the levers should be changed simultaneously although this may indeed be possible where they are close together.

The order in which multiple lever changes are actually performed may be decided by the player (or their teacher, where appropriate).


TOCCATA - David Snell
This piece is all in one tonality and should be played very precisely (sempre ritmico) with the melody brought out in the right hand and with a melodic middle section.

IDYLL - Nigel Springthorpe
This piece started out as a setting of a poem by W.S.Collins called June Twilight for tenor voice and piano. The poem is one of a collection written at the turn of the 20th century describing life in rural Ireland, June Twilight describing a tryst between lovers down a wooded lane. The unashamedly pastoral and romantic music lent itself well to adaptation for lever harp. The performer should try to contrast the introductory and accompanying music (bars 1-4, and bars 14, 16, 35 and 37) which was originally the piano with the cantabile vocal line. In general, the music should be played flexibly, keeping in mind the words “dallying down the lane’

DANCE - Fiona Clifton-Welker
‘Dance’ was written in January 2000 for the Trinity non-pedal harp syllabus. London was dull, dreary, wet and cold at the time so I decided to compose something that would evoke a balmier climate. I wanted the two outer sections to sound like slow, fluid improvisations to contrast with the middle section which is in strict tempo.

RAG-BAG - David Gough
This is a re-writing of an experimental piece composed originally for piano. I started with a fairly basic pastiche of a Scott Joplin rag. Using a combination of technology and research, I then imposed on each section a number of traditional and ‘World Music’ modes (Lydian mode, Indian Ragas, Oriental scales etc.) selecting the most appropriate style for each section and compositionally welding them together. Some awkward accidentals have had to be removed but I hope the essence and fun of the rag is still present.

HOUSE MUSIC - Danielle Perrett
Most people in Britain associate lever harps with traditional music, but as players we know the instruments are capable of far more. This piece is both an attempt at dispelling any ideas of the lever harp’s limitations and also a study in lever glissandos and agile lever changes.

THE HEART’S JOURNEY - Nigel Springthorpe
This is another adaptation of a song for high voice and piano. There is also a choral arrangement of the piece. The text is a poem by Siegfried Sassoon which describes the ecstatic joy and feelings of great yearning created by new love - the opening line is “A flower has opened in my heart’: The music should be performed with boldness and great momentum.

THE GREEN MAN - David Bessell
I had in mind when writing, the idea of villagers dancing at a festival in honour of the traditional pagan figure of the Green Man. As the dance progresses a stranger (the Green Man in disguise) merges with the dancers, signified by a change from conventional to synthetic modes and a subtly more ambiguous mood (bar 19). As the dance finishes the stranger disappears and we are returned to the tranquillity of rural England (bar 31) and familiar modes.

VARI8 - Paul Ayres
Vari8 was written in February 2000, after the composer was demonstrated the lever harp by Jade Hamilton. The work is constructed around a gradually-changing 8-note scale, reflected in the many lever changes, which keep the player very busy! “in” is a dynamic level between “mp" and “mf’ ie. a medium volume, which is neither “a little soft” nor “a little loud’

MILLENNIUM HOPE - Gabriel Currington
This piece was commissioned at the same time I lost a close friend of mine and the music has very much a bearing on my thoughts at that moment. The theme in the middle section of the piece represents the happy and kind person my friend was. The other parts aim to reflect the hectic and frenzied culture we live in today and no matter what the result is we should never give up hope of a brighter and optimistic future, hence the unresolved ending.

AFTER DEBUSSY - Danielle Perrett
Why should only pedal harpists have the whole colouristic range of impressionist music at their disposal? This piece is unashamedly a pastiche of Debussian style, form and in the use of modes rather than conventional major and minor scales. Experiment with the tonal colours possible on your instrument and try to make these an important feature in your interpretation.

RONDO - Nigel Springthorpe
Rondo is an original piece for lever harp. It commences with a kind of moto- perpetuo which contrasts with the more lyrical and rhapsodic sections commencing in bars 24 and 64. The poco meno mosso should not be played too slowly though, but with flexibility and rubato.


Score cover


Sample Page
Title Lever Harp 2000
Composers David Snell, Nigel Springthorpe, Fiona Clifton-Welker, David Gough, Danielle Perrett, David Bessell, Paul Ayres, Gabriel Currington
Instrumentation: Lever Harp
Level Advanced
Printed Parts: A4 stapled
Pages of music: 44 (11 works)
Weight: 190g
Our Ref: SM0100
Publisher: Beartramka
Edition/Year: Second Edition 2006 (First 2000)
Origin: UK