brettwi at ix.netcom.com
Tue Oct 10 16:47:47 PDT 1995
>I am wondering if anyone on this list can recommend a source of
>information for learning how to "dampen" strings while playing
>wire-strung harps. I just purchased a wire-strung harp, and am used
>to the nylon strings, and have no one to show me in person. Is there
>perhaps a good book, instructional tape, or whatever, out there that
>I'm not aware of?
>Please advise! Thank you!
>Also, were harps played on the left or right shoulder in the Middle
>Ages and Renaissance? Is there documentation somewhere out there for
Documentation? Naah-- but I have a good story! :)
A number of years ago (I don't want to admit just *how* many!) I had
the honor of attending a house concert where the performers were Chris
Caswell and Danny Carnahan. Chris was playing an incredible five
octave wire-strung harp. It was built of koa wood, so not only was it
gloriously functional, it was drop-dead gorgeous, too. His wife,
Teresa, had made it for him.
During one of the breaks a number of us in the audience cornered him
and asked *lots* of questions about his instrument. From what I
remember of the conversation, he said that he had a hard time learning
to switch his technique from nylon-strung harp to wire, as he had had
to teach himself to damp with the fingerpads while he used the nail to
'ring' the string. He also said glumly that aside from growing his
own, he hadn't found *any* acceptable substitute or aid other than the
home-grown variety of fingernail. He said that he'd tried Lee press-ons
and all of the various false fingernail preparations and/or glue-ons on
the market at the time and that all of 'em would break.
At that concert he had a full set of nails. He added as a last comment
that he'd had to stop helping his wife in the shop as making harps and
playing the wire-strung harp were, for him, two mutually incompatible
So, guard your nails.
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