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Topic: A Question on Harp Chords

  1. #1

    A Question on Harp Chords


    I've just about finished the intro (approx 128 bars) to a Celtic piece and I was wondering about harp chords - may as well get this right at the start. The instrument list so far is:

    Chromatic Harp - I'll add Gliss Harp later now that at last I've got the harp packets working ok!
    2 solo violins, doubled +8 in places (the sv's that come with GPO)
    Tremelo Strings
    1st violins
    Violas section
    Cello section
    Pizz Bass
    Synthesizer - yes a synth!, sounds good doubling the tremelo strings

    At the moment the harp is split over two tracks - the chords and the melody. I'm rolling the harp chords over six notes 3rd-5th-root-3rd-5th-root. So you can hear them ok. Originally I was just rolling the three notes of a normal triad - still sounded ok if a bit thin, but I could alway "pump up de volume". My question is, left to his/her own choice, how many notes would a harpist roll on a normal chord?

    I've bought Cakewalks Dimension Pro synth (hasn't arrived yet) and I see that it comes bundled with Garritan Pocket Orchestra. Are the strings in the "pocket orch" more produced or are they the same?

    Cheers, ColinD

  2. #2

    Re: A Question on Harp Chords

    Quote from "The Study of Orchestration", S. Adler

    "It is important to remember that the harpist uses only four of the fingers on each hand to play (the little finger is never used); therefore an eight-note chord is the maximum for the harp. Three-note chords (per hand) spread wide are the most effective... [T]enths are quite simple to reach."

    Six notes per chord are quite common. If the arpeggiation is slow it is quite possible to play more notes than three or four notes for each chord in each hand. It is also practical and common to continue the chord into the "melody hand" much like a piano can. Just remember to keep the note span within a tenth for each hand.

  3. #3

    Re: A Question on Harp Chords

    Here's a good site to visit if you need to know more about writing for the harp:


  4. #4

    Re: A Question on Harp Chords

    thanx, message received


  5. #5

    Re: A Question on Harp Chords

    A harp is played with four fingers in every hand, so if you play a chord with two hands, you can play eight notes, with one hand, till four (as dvincent has pointed correctly)
    If you are writing celtic music, three notes per chord is the most commonly used IMO. Also writting for celtic harp is different than for an orchestral one.

    Eduardo Tarilonte |Sample Library Developer
    SampleLibraries |MyWeb

  6. #6

    Re: A Question on Harp Chords

    Most people do not play the harp; thus, there is a great need for competent players and instructors in heaven. Earthly harp experience makes up for quite a bit of sin in the admissions process, almost like a get-out-of-hell-free card, so beware the harpist.

  7. #7

    Re: A Question on Harp Chords


    Do you like my devilish harp?

    Eduardo Tarilonte |Sample Library Developer
    SampleLibraries |MyWeb

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