SM397: Gestures

Harp Technique
Simon Chadwick

Cover ImageThis book gives a whole palette of techniques to make your harp playing more expressive and articulated. Subtitled “Harp technique from old Irish, Welsh & Scottish tradition”, the book presents annotated editions of the lists of fingerings and grace notes from the Robert ap Huw manuscript, and from Edward Bunting’s 1840 book, The Ancient Music of Ireland. These are then brought up to date for present day harpers, with a detailed description of how to play a comprehensive selection of gestures, based on and expanding on the ones presented in the historical sources. Additional sections give discussions of performance and interpretation, and examples from three different tunes are presented and the use of gestures to perform them is described.

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Introduction (part)

The system of gestures is one of the ‘secrets’ of historical Irish and British harp technique. It takes some time to learn the gestures, but the results can be startling, especially to modern harp piayers who have not come across them be ore.

The historical harp traditions of Ireland, Scotland and Wales p reserve a lot of interesting information about ancient native idiom, style and technique. It is possible that they represent the tail end of much more widespread European indigenous traditions that died out or changed with the spread of fashionable art music in the late medieval, Renaissance, baroque and classical periods of music.

These native harp traditions all became extinct hundreds of years ago. The Welsh harp tradition known as cerdd dant (the art of the string) died out in the 17th century; in Scotland, the Gaelic harp had disappeared by the mid i8th century, while in Ireland it started on into the 19th century. But none of the old players was recorded on wax cylinder, and only one, Patrick Byrne, was photographed.

The reason why the traditions died out, I think, is that they were archaic remnants of much older strands of European learned culture. I suspect that in earlier medieval times, this is the kind of tradition that was common across Europe. As literate learning took over, and developed through the centuries from medieva times right through to the 19th and 20th centuries, the older oral learning was displaced; and became confined more and more to the edges .........

Library Information

Title: Gestures
Format: Bound
Size: A5
Total Pages: 94
Weight: 160gm
ISMN: Not issued
Our Ref: SM397
Publisher: Early Gaelic Harp Info
Edition/Year: First Edition 2012
Origin: UK

Sample page

Sample page