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SM102: Pedal Harp World

Cover ImagePedal Harp World
Intermediate pieces for Pedal Harp
commissioned & edited by David Gough & Danielle Perrett

The 11 pieces in this book were composed by eight composers of accessible but varied styles for intermediate players of the pedal harp. They were designed to complement the Trinity Guildhall harp exam syllabus, from Grade 4-7.

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Further Information


01 A Cheerful Piece for a Wintry January Afternoon  - John Simpson          
02 Homage Krumpholz - Errol Hui
03 Nice Cup of Tea - David Gough
04 A Nostalgic Piece for May - John Simpson
05 Persian Dance - Jade Hamzelou
06 The Forest of White Leaves - Mehtap Omer
07  Shadows in the Mist - Matt Taylor
08  October Waltz - John Simpson
09  Harp Ascending - Nathalie Bleicher
Two Christmas Pieces:
10 Mary’s Lullaby - Nigel Springthorpe
11 Christkind - Nigel Springthorpe

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Programme Notes

A Cheerful Piece for a Wintry January Afternoon - John Simpson
composed the first of these pieces on one of those afternoons of brief light in late January when Spring still seems a long way off. Perhaps I needed something bright to cheer myself up. This is a very simple piece to the extent that no pedal changes are required. The sadness of Winter makes a brief appearance in the central section but thereafter all is light again.

Homage à Krumpholz - Errol Hui
The piece is directly inspired by the “Romance” in Krumpholz’s Sonata No. 1 -- hence the title, and the choice of key and time signatures - as well as the harmonic progressions in the first section. The quaver=76 metronome mark should be adhered to as much as possible, to give the piece more of a 4/8 feel than the
2/4 written. The appoggiaturas in bars 24 and 26 should be played ON the beat.

Nice Cup of Tea - David Cough
This is essentially a study in playing 3 against 2 rhythmic groups. Danielle uses this spoken phrase as a teaching aid for students getting to grips with it, “Nice”, “Cup” &“Tea” being the 3, and “Nice” &“Of” being the 2. The LH part has been written close to that of the RH so that some upper LH notes contribute to the melody, so don’t bring out the RH too much over the LH. The gentle mood is also intended to convey the quiet satisfaction that is to be had from Britain’s favourite beverage.

A Nostalgic Piece for May - John Simpson
By the time I came to write the second piece I had the feeling that I might have embarked on a cycle of twelve, one written in each month of the year reflecting my mood at the time rather than the picturesque. May is possibly my favourite month but all too quickly the blossom departs so that the final days can be tinged with nostalgia for transitory things. Several pedal changes are introduced in this piece.

Persian Dance - Jade Hamzelou
This should played with a driving rhythm and in a lively manner. The melodic line is vocal like and lilting, with exotic flavour. This is a dance and should be played as such, keeping in strict time. A touch of flair and drama lifts this piece into the air.

The Forest of White Leaves - Mehtap Omer
Whilst writing this piece I pictured the soundtrack of a forest, but one that was shrouded in cold, mist and frost; a forest that was completely covered in glistening white. The motion of the piece is almost that of someone walking into the forest and being overwhelmed by the immense blanket of glittery white, finding that everything has become so still like a painting. The frost has encased the leaves and branches as they are so that not even the wind could shake them. But the sun will soon be rising, so the forest can breathe again.

Shadows in the Mist - Matt Taylor
I wanted ‘Shadows In The Mist’ to carry a filmic quality. I envisioned a vast lake at dusk, whose surface is completely covered by a misty fog. In and amongst this fog, a group of animated shadows are dancing in and out of focus across the surface of the water. Each shadow is beautifully melancholy in nature, and is striving to break free of the mist. The shadows are trapped, however, and will be haunted and imprisoned by the fog for an eternity.

October Waltz - John Simpson
The third piece was composed during a brief respite at home between visits to Vietnam/Cambodia and Spain. Although it reflects nothing of those new experiences of the Far East the choice of a conventional Western dance form perhaps suggests the need for stability during a period of whirlwind travel. More importantly the piece includes more in the way of pedal changes so that each of the three represents a clear line of technical development for the player.

Harp Ascending - Nathalie Bleicher
In Harp Ascending I decided to explore different harmonies and modes available on the harp, through ascending scales which pervade the piece and contrasting legato chords. Throughout the piece we gain glimpses of its main melody, a descending three- or four-note motif, which should be played expressively to contrast with the calm of the other two themes.

Mary’s Lullaby - Nigel Springthorpe
Originally composed for girl’s choir and organ, the modal characteristics of the melody and harmony lend itself to being arranged for harp and first performed in that version by the Senior Choir of St. Albans High School in December 2003. The first performance of this version for harp was given by Danielle Perrett in Memphis, October 2007.

There should be a slow two-in-a bar pulse to the opening which feels as if it starts to pick up speed in bar 32 50 that the melody in 35 feels brisker than the opening. This then sets up the tempo for the ‘a little faster’ section in bar 39 where the pulse should be felt as brisk crotchets. The music should build in volume and speed to the natural climax in bars 53 to 56 which should be the loudest and most exciting moment. The momen­tum and excitement in the music should then quickly dissipate in the ‘poco meno mosso’ in readiness for the ‘tempo primo’, which is a reprise of the music in bar 11. Grade the tempo carefully so that momentum is not totally lost through the gradual rallentando and pauses towards the end.

Christkind - Nigel Springthorpe
Another piece that started life as a vocal work, this time as a song for soprano and piano by the German composer Peter Cornelius
(1824-1874) published as No.6 of his Wiehnachtslieder. (No. 3 of these songs is the famous Epiphany carol entitled ‘The Three Kings’, made famous in David Willcocks’ arrangement for choir in Carols for Choirs i.) The translation of the text is:

Jesus, who once on earth did reign,
Every year is born again;
Down from the stars his light is cast,
Filling with joy this world so vast.

All children gladly greet the day
when Jesus in the manger lay.
The tapers twinkle all around
while bells and deep church organs sound!

Child Jesus comes to rich and poor,
To all alike he opens the door.
Then give him praises measureless,
To you he offers happiness!

The adaptation for harp is much freer in this piece, Cornelius’ original acting more as a starting point, where the emphasis has been on creating an idiomatic work for harp. However, be aware that the semiquaver pas­sages (such as bars 9 — 13 and later) probably capture the image of the flickering candles. The music should flow along at a good pace with a sense of energy that reflects the optimistic mood of the text and with the depth of tone suggested by ‘bells and deep church organs’ - ensure the semiquaver runs are played with full-tone. The challenge for the young player will be to maintain a sense of momentum and pace, particularly from bar 73, right to the final chord.

A note about fingering - Danielle Perrett
In most cases there is more than one way to finger this music. The fingerings given are therefore only suggestions and the player and/or teacher should use their own discretion.

Score cover


Sample Page
Title Pedal Harp World
Composers John Simpson, Errol Hui, David Gough, Jade Hamzelou, Mehtap Omer, Matt Taylor, Nathalie Bleicher, Nigel Springthorpe
Instrumentation: Pedal Harp
Level Intermediate (Grade 4 -7)
Printed Parts: A4 stapled
Pages of music: 33 (11 works)
Weight: 170g
Our Ref: SM0102
Publisher: Beartramka
Edition/Year: First published 2008
Origin: UK