The Harp – Learning Your First Tune

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 19,720
    Cynthia Cathcart, a teacher, recording artist, performer, and author breaks down how to play your first song on the harp.

    Cynthia Cathcart

    Cynthia is one of the world's experts on the Clarsach, the wire-strung harp of the Highland and Islands of Scotland and of Ireland. Performing and teaching internationally, she is leading a new wave of interest in the wire-strung harp. Based near Washington, DC, Cynthia represents Ardival Harps of Strathpeffer, Scotland and is their North American Artist in Residence. Cynthia is a recording artist, and the author of several books for the clarsach. She holds a number of prestigious awards, including two-time U.S. National Scottish Harp Master Champion, three time winner of the Clan Lamont Trophy (in Virginia, Texas and Ohio), and holder of the Pennington-Grey Award for service to the wire-strung harp.

    My name is Cynthia Cathcart, and lets learn the first tune. Since the first tune I usually teach the little fun called The gentle rain fall. Start with your base-hand, fingers four, three, and two put them on strings D, E and F-sharp, you want to have your F tuned sharp for this tune. Treble-hand, fingers four, three, two on D, E, F and auto fire, so both hands, fours are on D, threes are on E and twos are on F-sharp. Base-hand, skip a string and put your thumb on A, treble-hand skip two strings and put your thumb on B, you are now on these strings D, E, F-sharp, A, D, E, F-sharp, E. Okay. The first element we are going to learn in this tune is treble-hand four, three, two, thats it. Four, three, two, as you strike, each succeeding string, return the previous finger to the string. Be comfortable with that, and then one time, strike the thumb, and as with the treble-hand, elements of this tune, base-hand just straight down the strings, thumb on A, two F-sharp, E and D, fingers three and four.

    Once you are comfortable with that, here is the tricky part. Turn it around, come back up, but leave your second finger on the F-sharp, its an anchor, dont move it. Fourth finger D, third finger E, thumb A.

    The elements are quick review, with sometime, okay and then base-hand straight down and one tricky time, straight up, but leaving the second finger on the string. It goes together like this; treble-hand plays this bit, base-hand plays this bit.

    Heres the tricky bit; treble-hand goes all the way up to the thumb, base-hand comes up, skipping that second finger, dont play the F, and then its back to the way it began. One more time, treble bit, base-hand; treble-hand up, base-hand down. Treble-hand all the way up, base-hand up, four, three, one, treble-hand, base-hand, One more time without my talking [Music]