Usually, the classical Anglo-European pedal harp is framed as the exact opposite of the Irish harp. But my recent visits to Hospitalfield house to see their 1830s Erard pedal harp have got me thinking about how these instruments fit in to the native traditions.
I found this project proposal I had written back in the Autumn of last year, but had never followed up on. Continue reading “Archæological” copies of old Gaelic harps
On Saturday I was at Hospitalfield house, near Arbroath. This amazing 19th century country house is now conserved and run as an arts centre. A recent project was to restore the Erard Grecian double-action pedal harp that has been at the house since about 1830.
Saturday’s event was an inaugural concert for the newly-restored harp, and I was asked to give the pre-concert talk on the harp and its place in Scottish music. Continue reading Erard Grecian harp
Today I was at Verdant Works in Dundee. The High Mill of this 19th century jute factory is an interesting space for music events.
The video camera malfunctioned so there’s no video of the event for you. But here’s the complete audio: Continue reading Verdant Works
The Museum of the University of St Andrews has an exhibition currently called “Victorian Visions”, looking at 19th century items in their collections, and with a focus on the rediscovery and restoration of the medieval heritage of St Andrews.
When they asked me if I could come in and do a concert of medieval harp music to tie in with the exhibition, I started thinking of musical parallels to this rediscovery. Continue reading Victorian Visions
People have talked for a long time about left and right orientation. Sometimes the question is, why did the old harpers play with their left hand in the treble and their right hand in the bass? And sometimes the question is, what should we do now?
It is a common trope in the world of historical Gaelic harp studies that the tradition was “broken” in the 19th century, that the revivers of the harp of Ireland and Scotland had no contact with the last of the old tradition-bearers. But yesterday, Sylvia asked me if I was sure that this was true, and so I started to wonder.
I was discussing Burns’s March with one of my students, saying how it was the most important model for old Gaelic harp (Irish harp, clarsach) technique and style. They said that there was a need for written-out versions fully marked up with fingering and damping.
Looking through the books from the Jimmy Shand Collection in Dundee library for a tune to play on Saturday week at the free community concert in Dundee, I noticed “Carlione a Favourite Irish Tune” in Neil Gow’s third collection (1792). It is Dr John Stafford, or Carolan’s Receipt (no. 161 in Donal O’Sullivan’s index).
Whether or not I’lI get it up and running to play in two weeks time, it got me thinking about tunes titled with strange variants of Carolan’s name.
I’m working on the 3rd edition of my book Progressive Lessons. I decided to be more focussed and concentrate only on the three beginners’ tunes from the testimony of Patrick Quin and Denis O’Hampsey. Looking again at the manuscript sources, I am seeing a lot of things that I had not paid attention to before, and which are worryingly different from the way I have been playing and teaching these tunes up to now.