The Harp – Manipulate the Strings with your Hands

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 13,601
    Cynthia Cathcart, a teacher, recording artist, performer, and author demonstrates the 3 ways to manipulate the strings of a 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 we are now going to talk about the three things you can do to a metal string. First and probably the most basic is we can touch a string then we move our finger finely, touch it and remove it. You might wonder why one would want to do that if the string is sounding, thats the damp.

    The other thing that you can do with a string is to strike it; you put your finger on the string only long enough to pull the nail of. Now, let me show you, its not much of a pull, it doesnt take much to get these strings going.

    The other thing you can do harping it and notice a little bit about this, a little bit of this while I was showing you that, as you can put your finger on a string and you can leave it there. It really is something different. For instance here I am, these fingers are waiting to strike, this has returned and stopped the sound, this was ready right from the very beginning of that passage. So, its all a matter of combining these three things you can do with a string. See this finger I decided not to return.

    So, you choose which strings do I ring by not returning to them, the other strings I decided to stop their ringing, this can be pretty effective.

    So, I am going to play G Major scale and by choosing which strings I am going to return to and the silent damping touch, going to leave you with a G Major chord. (music) as opposed to this (music) no where near as nice.

    We control the ringing on the wire strung harp by choosing which strings to let ring and which strings to damp, its a matter of controlling the ringing of the harp. So, Ill play a little tune here to show, you might want to look at these fingers, since they co-operate, choosing who is going to ring and who is not. My right hand is going to be a little more free, its mostly striking. (music)