The Concert (pedal) harp
When most people think of the harp, it is the instrument of the
angels that comes to mind. A delicate, beautiful instrument of
an ethereal world. But the harp is an instrument of endless
possibilities. Have you ever heard ragtime, Harlem Nocturne,
or The Pink Panther performed on the harp?
The concert harp is considered the world's most difficult
instrument to play. With 47 strings and 7 pedals, each of
which has three positions, the odds of playing a wrong note
are insurmountably higher than playing the right one. But
this is the magic of the harp: to make it all look easy, and to
hide the pedals with a long, flowing skirt!
My particular instrument was custom-made for me by Salvi
Harps in Italy, and, aside from its striking tone, the ivory color
makes it a beautiful complement to any venue and occasion.
The Celtic harp is obviously a
much smaller instrument than the
concert harp, but the main
difference is that there are no
pedals, so pitch changes are
controlled by levers across the
harp's neck. This means that more
chromatic repertoire is much more
difficult, or impossible to play.
This instrument is perfect for
light Classical and popular music
with the same volume capacity as
the concert harp and can be lovely
in a more intimate or
The word "clarsach" is a Gaelic
term for the ancient Celtic harp,
which, although looking very
similar to a modern Celtic harp, is
extremely different in the fact that
the strings as made of wire,
traditionally bronze or steel. To play
this harp requires dampening
certain strings after they are played,
so as to keep a clear tone quality.
Most of the music I play on this
quieter instrument is traditional
Celtic music, although holiday
carols sound particularly beautiful
as well. When I perform on this
harp, many people remark that it
sounds like bells, or even a dulcimer.