"...Wiktor's a Jekyll-Hyde personality..." - Lycos Music
A - B - C - D - E - F - G
(in other words, all 7 notes of a diatonic scale)
the left foot controls (from the outside in): D - C - B
the right foot controls (from the outside in): A - G - F - E
you can retune on the fly. there are physical limitations on the speed and number of notes you can retune.
Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't the seven-pedal harp tuned in Cb? I believe the middle position of the pedals is:
Db - Cb - Bb | Ab - Gb - Fb - Eb
This is off the top of my head.
the upper position is all-out flat (the dampers do not touch any strings)
the bottom position is sharp, both sets of tuning pins touch the strings.
it doesn't change anything to my initial comment. the 7 pedals are related to the 7 pitches of the diatonic scale. whether it be all flat or all natural or all sharp, the 7 pedals are related to the 7 pitches.
Note: The Bottom two or three notes on the harp have to be tuned by hand and are not pratical to change druing the middle of a piece.
Harp music makes use of a lot of enharmonic spellings in their written music.
Note: Harp players only use four fingers, not five, so many "piano figurations" are not pratical on harp.
COMPOSING FOR HARP
"Each pedal has three positions: flat (the top position of the pedal), natural (the middle position) and sharp (the lowest position). There can only be seven distinct pitches on the harp at a given time. Every time there is a change of key or an accidental, this change is made with the feet, both for the accidental and to return to the starting pitch. It is important to note that the lowest two strings of the harp, C and D, are not controlled by the pedal mechanism. The harpist must tune each to the desired pitch and leave them at this pitch for the duration of the entire movement or piece (e. g. C# and D natural)"
Last edited by Ed Sharpe; 12-29-2010 at 04:24 PM. Reason: More info
// Ars longa, vita brevis
DCB EFGA up means b, down means #
There is no spoon.
As a harpist I can concur with our esteemed harpmeisters here.
Pedal harps are tuned diatonic in C flat, with all the pedals in the upper position.
The middle position of the pedals the natural position - C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C.
The lower position is a half step lower. So a pedal can produce a flat, natural, or sharp - corresponding to each note of the scale.
From the harpspectrum site boulifb mentioned:
Also some pieces may require alternative tunings where the tuning of a pedal harp will depend on the piece or repertoire being played. Experimental tunings can produce some interesting results. For the best tone, having the least pedals engage provides a more ringing sound and a harpist may retune accordingly for the repertoire. And retuning can make pedal changes easier to manage and produce less unwanted pedal related noise.
"How often, or at all, can the Harpist tune during a performance?" During mid song it is difficult or impossible to retune strings with a tuning key (you would never hear the soft tones over the orchestra).
Shifting keys and accidentals mid-pience is what the pedals allow. And this depends on the pedal abilities of the harpist. Some excellent harpists literally dance across the pedals and go in and out of keys easily with fancy footwork. To others, it is a challenge to do more chromatic works.
Wow, I have never worked in an orchestra big enough to have a pedal harp nor have I ever seen one. This is all really interesting. I love this forum.