Teleri (telerib) wrote,

Somerset Folk Harp Festival, Day One

Arranging Pipe and Fiddle Tunes for Harp with William Jackson: Jackson is very personable. Most of the 90 min class was spent learning two tunes by ear. We learned two basic ornaments, and he mentioned how he was building the intro. Song 1: A-E intervals for tonic, G-A-E for "away," which is how pipes do it. I wouldn't have thought of that. Song 2: Similarly, bass hand played "home" interval/chord while other hand alternated home, away and random intervals. We got a one-page handout with 4-5 ornaments to practice at home.

Wire Harp 'Masterclass' with Ann Heymann: Heymann herself wasn't sure what the right title for the class was. By far, I got the most crunchy bits here. How Ann does hand position, harp position (she likes the smaller harps held lower, not on the lap), striking technique. Only 3 in the class, so we got personal attention, and she stuck mostly with the things she has to show, not tell. That is: I can learn the idea of Combination Technique from her book, but those black and white pictures do not convey hand position as well as someone taking your hand and putting it where it needed to be.

Scandinavian Ensemble with Beth Kolle: I'm better at playing in an ensemble within my limitations, but that wasn't taught. I realized my harp learning is very visual: I need to see my fingers on the strings playing the song before it "sticks," which is not conducive to jamming. (Also not taught.) The information on ensemble playing could be summed up as "Look at and listen to each other. Mind your tempo. A strong ensemble leader is good." I was hoping for some more details. Still, heard some nifty music, played some nifty music, and learned some good things to know (even if they weren't on the syllabus).

Dealer's Room: I learned that my Ardival Rosemarkie harp that I got on eBay is an early model that is not solid-body construction and was meant to by nylon-strung. (Rosemarkies now are solid-body and they're gut-strung.) It is, in fact, the 47th harp Ardival ever made. (They are up past 800 now.) So that's pretty cool.

I spoke to the leading proponent of South American harp in the folk harp community and bought one of his CDs. Latin music is awesome on harp, and the techniques they use with their lower-tensioned harps are varied and neat. If I had infinite time, I would love to learn that way. As it is, I have enough trouble keeping up with my early music performance goals, so I will table learning an entire other genre.

Other: I am spoiled by the sheer amount of information typically conveyed in an SCA class/workshop. I know people learn in different ways, but... two ornaments and two techniques to build an intro? In 90 minutes? There are no widely-known folk tunes in Mixolydian mode that switch between tonic and a note below? That's the bagpipe tune structure, apparently, and if we could have started with something like "Twinkle, Twinkle"...

Sigh. Different priorities. Because the workshop was also stealth-teaching learning by ear and suchlike, which is an important skill, but... it was not what I wanted to get from the workshop. I wanted to learn about arranging. And there was not much content on arranging. Ditto on ensemble playing.

I asked the event organizer what one had to do to become an instructor, because I've got some nice classes on harp improv and early medieval music theory I could teach... maybe next year, depending on where it's being held...
Tags: music
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