If you’re like me, just the thought of a harp creates a sort of magical wistfulness inside. When I was twelve years old, I heard about an opportunity to take harp lessons. Something came alive inside me and I instantly wanted more than anything to learn to play. It’s been an ongoing love affair ever since.
Playing the harp takes years to master, and a great deal of learning to play comes from technique, not just learning to read music. It has been said that harp is the second most difficult instrument to learn to play. (Apparently bagpipes is the hardest.)
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the harp, here are the basics of a classical pedal harp’s anatomy.19
The base is the bottom part of the harp where it stands on the ground. The little claw looking things on the base all around are called the feet. When the harp is being played, the harp balances on the feet and rests against the harpist’s knees and lightly against the right shoulder. The long, thin part at the left of this picture is called the column. It’s filled with long mechanical gears that help change the strings and is usually intricately carved. Some of the more expensive harps are also gilded with gold leaf.
The photo on the right is a close up of the base of the harp where you can see the feet. You can also see the pedals. Each pedal controls every octave of that note. For example, one string controls all the harp’s C strings. Moving the pedals into different positions can make each strong sharp, natural, or flat. There are seven different pedals, one for every note in all the octaves.
This photo to the left is a close up of the top, curving part of the harp, called the neck, which also has a great view of the harp string pegs and the action, which is what all those little lever thingies are called. These move when the harp pedals move, and shortens or lengthens the strings to change key depending on the position of the pedal.
You’ll also notice that some of the strings are red, some a black, and the rest are white. The red strings are C, the black are F. This allows the harpist to easily find the correct strings, although advanced harpist pretty much know where the strings are by touch, but everyone needs an occasional guide, especially for performance. The strings are laid out like a piano(minus the black keys)–A, B, C, D, E, F, G.
Harpists spend years perfecting the art of performance, and if done correctly, make it look easy by the graceful motion of their hands. Because of my great love for the harp, I mention a harp or harpist in all of my novels, and most of my short stories and novellas.
Since music is such a part of my life, I decided to write a series of novels about musicians. The first one in the series is called Heart Strings which features a harpist and a violinist.
Here is the backcover blurb for Heart Strings, book 1 in the Songs of the Heart Series, coming soon:
Gently bred young ladies don’t run away from home to find employment, but when forced to choose between marrying a brutish oaf or becoming another man’s mistress, Susanna makes an unconventional decision. Following her passion for music, she flees to London with dreams of securing a position as a harpist. Becoming entangled with the handsome opera concertmaster who calls himself Kit, but who seems more an aristocrat than an ordinary violinist, may be even more dangerous than sleeping in the streets.
Kit’s attention is captured by Susanna’s breath-taking talent, admirable grace, and winsome smiles…until a lawman exposes the new harpist both a runaway bride and a thief. Now Kit must not only choose between his better judgement and his heart, but must also embrace the life to which he swore he’d never return.