Instruments

HARPS

LEVER HARPS

Lever harps are more mobile due to their smaller size and lighter weight. Lever harps come in various shapes and sizes. However, they are more limited in their repertoire as the pitch of strings can only be sharpened when engaging the levers at the top of the string. Once engaged, the lever pinches the string raising the pitch by one half-step. The lever harp Nichole performs on is built in France by Camac Harps and has 32 strings. It is a fully electric harp and has a beautiful blue finish.

PEDAL HARPS

Nichole performs on two different pedal harps. Both harps are made in France by Camac Harps. The smaller harp has 44 strings and ways about 55 lbs. The larger harp is more elaborate in design and is a full concert grand harp with 47 strings and weigh in at about 100 lbs. Both harps use a complicated mechanism that attaches to 7 pedals at the bass of the harp. There is a pedal for each note name: A, B, C, D, E, F and G. Each pedal as 3 positions, the flat position, natural position and sharp position. The pedal mechanism is connected to discs that can pinch into the string tightening to raise the pitch much like the levers when the foot pedal is moved.

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BOWED STRINGS

VIOLIN

The violin, is probably the most well known and recognized of the bowed string family.  It has been prominently displayed in the orchestra as the section is typically situated closest to the edge of the stage and the conductor.  The violin also has the highest range of the string instruments and has been said to be resemblant of the soprano voice. Historically many works have been written for violin both solo and orchestral.  Music for violin is composed in the treble clef [which is one of the most common clefs of music].  The violin is typically tuned to concert A and often carries many of the moving melodic lines in the orchestra or ensemble playing.  There are 4 strings on the violin, G, D, A and E with G being the lowest and E being the highest. Different pitches can be obtained by pressing down on the strings at different intervals while drawing the bow across the strings or plucking the strings.  The violin is held up under one’s chin and can be played standing up or sitting down.

VIOLA

This instrument is often confused with the violin as they are similar in shape and size.  However, the viola is a bit larger than the violin and has a lower range than the violin.  In the orchestral setting, the string section is typically arranged 1st violins, 2nd violins, violas and cellos around the conductor in s semi-circle.  Unlike the violin, viola music is written in the alto clef.  Like the violin, the viola also has 4 strings, but the are C, G, D and A with C being the lowest pitched string and A being the highest pitched string.  Different pitches can be obtained by pressing down on the strings at different intervals while drawing the bow across the strings or plucking the strings.  The viola is held up under one’s chin and can be played standing up or sitting down.

 

VIOLINCELLO/CELLO

The cello is much larger than the violin and viola.  It is sometimes confused with the Contra Bass which is almost double the size of the cello.  The cello has an end-pin at the bass of the instrument which can be adjusted for height and is set on the floor to hold the cello in place.  The cellist pulls the cello back toward the left shoulder. Like the violin and viola, the right hand is used to draw the bow across the strings while the left hand positions fingerings to elicit the accurate pitches by pushing down the strings on the fingerboard.  Cello music is most often written in either bass or tenor clef.  The rich tones of this instrument give it a very soulful sound which compliments the harp and other string instruments making it one of our favorite pairings.

WOODWINDS

FLUTE

The flute, while part of the woodwind family, is not a reed instrument.  It is classified as being an aerophone.  Sound emitted from the flute is the result of air flow across the opening on the flute.  There are many different types of flutes, but the most common in orchestral music is the Western concert flute.  The instrument of professionals is typically gold or even platinum plated. The embouchure hole is the opening where the flutist, places their lips to blow air through the instrument.  a series of tone holes are strategically situated the length of the long metal tube with key mechanism and fingering system allowing the player to change the pitches as the air passes through.  The flute has a range from middle C to 3 octaves above.  The concert pitch for the flute is in the key of C.

 

LIMITATIONS OF SOLO REPERTOIRE FOR STRINGS AND WOODWINDS

Many works have been composed for bowed string instruments and woodwinds over hundreds of years.  From solo works to chamber works to concertos with full orchestra, bowed strings have been the staple of the classical and contemporary repertoire.

However, as artists like Lindsey Sterling and the Piano Guys have made acoustic string versions  of hits like “A Thousand Years” popular on traditionally “classical” instruments, the solo approach is not the best approach for meeting the client’s expectations.  Unlike the harp, piano or guitar, that allow for different melodies/harmonies to be played simultaneously, bowed strings are limited to playing one line of music at a time.  When applying a solo string instrument without any accompaniment to popular hits like “Secrets” by One Republic or “Marry You” by Bruno Mars, it leaves the audience with a feeling that something is missing.

The best practice to meet audience expectations is to pair strings together in an ensemble.  The result is a beautiful combination of harmonies and melodies working together to provide a fuller and more well-rounded representation of the selected works.

It is for this reason that at Harp and Soul, we offer solo booking options for piano or harp only.

For clients set on solo violin or solo cello, pairing these instruments with harp helps to fill out the sound and provide a product that clients and their guests rave about and enjoy.  As the harp is centric to what we do and also very flexible to a variety of situations [no electricity required for a power source], we promote the harp as the primary solo and string accompaniment instrument.

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