Harp Sheet Music for Bass

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Boplicity, Oct 27, 2003.

  1. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    Just saw the two sisters, Elisabeth and Mary Catherine Smart play a beautiful duet on their twin pedal harps. That gave me the idea that maybe harp sheet music would make excellent drills for bass guitar. I guess my thinking is those beautiful arpeggios the girls played on their harps would be good practice material and good sight reading practice too.

    But I know nothing about orchestra harps. Are they played one note at a time like bass or do harpists play chords? Also, I wonder what clef harp music is written in. Is there a "harp clef" or do they play the same range as the piano or what? Anybody here know? Has anybody here ever seen harp sheet music? I'm really curious about this.
  2. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    There used to be a Japanese harpist who lived in the Phillippines when I did. He played smooth jazz on the harp. I loved that. Unfortunately he was murdered a few years ago. What a tragic waste!

    I'll look up the artist you named because the idea of jazz harp really intrigues me. I bet it is wonderful.
  3. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    Having checked your link, I realized I have actually seen Lori on the cable jazz channel BET on Jazz. I thought she was amazing. And, yes, fortunately , her web site does have sound samples. I was enchanted with her solo CD "Bossame Mucho" and her harp and band CD "Going HOme", a Christmas jazz CD. Thanks for telling me about her. I plan to order those two CDs.
  4. Aram


    Feb 2, 2003
    New York, NY
    I think it would be very difficult -- probably similar to playing piano music on bass. AFAIK, they read both treble and bass clefs. They definitely do chords/octaves as well.

    You could probably pick out melody lines and transpose them, etc. but iI think it'd be more productive to scour the cello (or even violin or viola) repertoire for etudes. Many (not all) of the Bach Suites for unaccompanied cello work well for upright bass, and translate to electric nicely as well. You can hear a couple of them on 6-string electric here:


  5. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    Thanks for the link, Aram. It was interesting how Shroeder used a volume pedal to get the dynamics of sound in Bach's music.

    Also, thanks for filling me in on how harp music is written with both trebel and bass clef. I enjoy harp music, but really have no clue as to how the instrument is played. It must be a BEAR to tune with all those strings.

    Now that you have added to my knowledge, I have even more respect for harpists than I had before. I am really impressed that the two Smart girls could be such accomplished players at such a young age.
  6. Aram


    Feb 2, 2003
    New York, NY
    I actually didn't even realize he used a volume pedal...I'll have to give it another listen. I thought the jazz/fusion stuff on his other album was excellent too. I actually found out about him through a banner on the top of talkbass...otherwise i'd have never known about the recording. (although I think John Pattitucci also did the Bach Suites on six string)

    No problem. I know the harp pretty well because I played in an orchestra where my section was right next to two harpists. Not only is it a beautiful instrument, but you're right: it seriously must be one of the most difficult instruments to play. All flats and sharps are executed through foot pedals, and when you press one down it makes every note on the harp flatted or sharped (so lets say you make a D natural into a D sharp, ALL D strings on the instrument become D sharp strings). Not sure if that makes sense, but I don't know how else to explain it.

    Plus, there are so many different timbres on the instrument...just by plucking it in different ways, not to mention muting and harmonics, which appear to be VERY difficult.

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