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Posts Tagged ‘harp’

 

The thing is, I don’t have an inferiority complex or social awkwardness, or any of the usual excuses for being camera shy with regard to playing harp. I just get so distracted from music when a camera is around. Why?

It may be that my amateur-photographer mother insisted on full smiles and total cooperation from her four children as she snapped away on her Graflex.  We were polished, posed, and portrayed, her four little angels of photographic perfection.

There was little resistance. My brother stuck out his tongue in a couple of shots (mild enough to be adorable rather than mutinous), and in one glorious instance my oldest sister leaped in front of the camera just as my other sister and I were to be immortalized in our Halloween costumes. We were hobos. Oh, the irony.

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“Okay. Now lean in and pretend to whisper… Nooooo! Laura!!!!”

Then there is the pinky thing.  When I was 12, there was an accident involving my left hand, a gold fish bowl I was cleaning in the back yard, and a bit a concrete. Eight stitches and a monstrously bandaged month later, I was left with a pinky refugee, never to return normally to its sisters. It won’t fold flat, it won’t go where I want it to go, and (yes, I know that only I and a handful of other harpists would notice) it doesn’t do Good Hand Position at the harp, preferring instead to curl up as if I’m sipping tea at a bloody cotillion. Normally I don’t think of it much, but put a camera in front of me and The Voice of Dysfunction whispers in my ear, “cream or sugar?”

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So, for whatever reasons, I have never been comfortable playing music with a camera on me. But I am determined to overcome! I may never be able to smile perfectly (or even speak) while playing, but I will make more YouTube videos!

How? Snippets! For the past few weeks I have been recording small portions or shortened versions of songs on the harp as a sort of conditioning therapy. I am calling them “Saturday Snippets” because I have a weakness for cutesy alliteration. I have been posting them on my Facebook page rather than YouTube; I suppose it seems less exposed. After all, the snippets are not always my best work. And it’s just me, my harps and an iPhone. There are little mistakes, the cat starts meowing, my pinky goes out for tea… Nothing polished. Sorry, Mom.

But it’s a start. And I really think it’s helping.

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If chocolate had a sound

Talk to harpists about their impressions upon first hearing a harp and you will find a common theme.

“I found the sound irresistible.”

“I was drawn to it as I never had been to other instruments.”

“I knew right away: I just had to play harp someday.”

Have you ever heard anyone say, “The first time I heard a trombone, I just dropped everything and was mesmerized by the sound”?  Drums? Flute? Hurdy Gurdy?

I know those instruments have their appeal, their reasons, and their own magnetism. But harp… it’s different. There is so much pleasure in the sound of a harp. Sometimes I think we harpists are the hedonists of the musical world.

Those of us who get snagged by The Harp seem to do so on a deep and mysterious level. We want that sound, and those fingers, and the feeling it gives us when we first hear it. We want it so bad.  And yet, it is so hard to express and describe. What is it that beauty we hear? What is that quality of sound we must pursue?

Wind going between tall buildings.

A piano under water.

Something from a half-forgotten dream.

Soft and round, yet percussive.

A pine tree seen through fog.

A voice, but not voice-like.

The sound of chocolate if chocolate had a sound.

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