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Introducing Know The Score [Know the Score S2:E0]

Hi, I’m Cynthia Shelhart. You can call me Cindy. And it’s time for some #DoubleTalk. Double-strung harp, that is!

Welcome, or welcome back, to our channel featuring the modern double-strung harp and its music. We’ve just finished up a series of double-strung harp FAQ videos, featuring everything from “What is a double-strung harp?” and its historical roots, to choosing an instrument for yourself and getting started playing a double harp. If you missed those episodes—hey, it’s never too late for some Double Talk! Make sure to catch those episodes to catch up. And make sure you’re subscribed for future episodes.

About Know The Score

You’re here at just the right time for some exciting stuff. Starting with this episode, we’re switching gears for a new season. We’ll dig deeper into arranging music for double-strung harp with a new series called Know The Score.

Know The Score, which is new to Series 2, is a behind-the-scenes look at arranging for double-strung harp, based on The Shelhart Method™️, my approach to tunes, technique, and theory for double-strung harp.

Each episode also goes deeper on The Technique Triangle™️, my signature framework for double-strung harp technique, as part of The Shelhart Method.

This new series is going to focus on using The Technique Triangle in different ways with different arrangements, to really help your double-strung harp “sound more like a double.” You’ll see this in action with arrangements from my Double Dozen Series books: Double the Weddings, and Double the O’Carolan Tunes.

About The Technique Triangle

You might recognize these double-strung harp techniques from my method book, Make Mine a Double; they’re now known as The Technique Triangle, as part of The Shelhart Method. (I also wrote a blog post recently introducing The Technique Triangle, and I’ll put a link to that post in the show notes.)  If you’re new to these techniques, or if you’d like a little reminder, we’ll take a look under the hood.

Each technique of The Technique Triangle is named for its main job in playing and creating double-strung harp music.

  • You can use these techniques to create an unlimited number of double-strung harp patterns, but they’re still based on 1 or more of these 3 double-strung harp techniques. And the same pattern can be used in a variety of ways.
  • Also, you don’t need to use all three of these techniques in the same arrangement. Using even just ONE of these techniques can help your double-strung harp “sound more like a double.”

The 3 Techniques

So let’s take a look at the 3 techniques:

Echo Technique

Echo Technique is the foundation sound of the double-strung harp—what everyone expects to hear from 2 rows of strings. This melodic technique features the 2 string rows, and they’re tuned in unison. And both hands echo the same notes back and forth.

Split Technique

Split Technique serves as the double-strung harp’s problem solver. It’s also a melodic technique. And it helps out, when you have repeated notes or an extended scale pattern, when you can split similar notes back and forth between hands, so that it’s easier to play. And Split Technique also includes some elements of Echo Technique.

Overlap Technique

The third technique, Overlap Technique, is what I like to call the “combo platter” of double-strung harp techniques. It weaves independent parts together, as both hands overlap in the same range to play two or more different parts at the same time, including accidentals. So that’s where some of the lever changes, or maybe not even having to make lever changes, can come in handy. In Overlap Technique, harmony and rhythm and texture share the same stage with the melodic techniques and elements from Echo and Split Techniques.

Wrapping Up

So, these 3 parts of The Technique Triangle, the part of The Shelhart Method that really helps your harp “sound more like a double,” are the foundation for our new look behind the scenes at the arranging process. You’ll see how I used these techniques—and how you can, too—with example arrangements from my Double Dozen book series.

Thanks for joining me today for Episode Zero, the overview of our new series. If you liked what you heard today, please make sure you’re subscribed, so you can be notified of future episodes. And if you really want to be the first to get some more Double Talk, head on over to my website, CindyShelhart.com, and sign up for my mailing list.

So stay tuned (and subscribed) for next time—our first Series 2 episode features some great ways to arrange with Echo Technique, that unmistakable sound of the double-strung harp. Get ready to Know The Score… see you next time!

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Which Music Can I Play on Double-Strung Harp? [Double-Strung Harp FAQ S1E5]

Hi, I’m Cynthia Shelhart. You can call me Cindy. And it’s time for some #DoubleTalk. Double-strung harp, that is!

Welcome back to our FAQ series on the double-strung harp. In the past couple of videos, Parts 1 and 2 of Episode 4, we took a look at the double-strung harp’s family tree, all the way from late Renaissance chromatic harps to the 20th century birth of the modern double harp. If you missed those episodes, we’re sorry we missed you! You need to make sure you subscribe, so you can be notified of future episodes.

This time, it’s a very special Episode 5— can’t wait to share it with you. It’s actually ripped from the pages of a workshop that I just taught. And I thought this would be a great way to share a glimpse for you of what it’s like to work with me in a workshop. So sit back, relax, and enjoy a very special FAQ Series Episode 5, where I answer the question: “Which music can I play on double-strung harp?”


Which music?

Which music can I play on double-strung harp? This is really a concern or a question that people have.

At first, I have a very short answer: I say, “The easy answer is, almost ANYTHING!”

And then after that, there’s an easy answer with a short disclaimer: “ALMOST anything, if it works for your HARP, and works for YOU.”

We’re not just talking about musical elements like melody, or harmony, or genres or styles here. We can actually dig a little deeper, and talk about the actual source material of where the music really comes from.

For example, if a piece of music is written down in permanent form—somewhere—it usually comes from 1 of 3 categories of the source material: a composition, an arrangement, or a transcription. This means that, for compositions, you’re playing something that’s exactly the same, that somebody has written down, and the expectation is, you will play it as written. Or, maybe you are going to adapt music in the original source, and it will be different from its original form. So let’s compare those two things quickly.

Compositions for double-strung harp

For compositions, you’re doing something that’s exactly the same as the composer intended, whoever they were (and whenever they were). The double-strung harp is a new and growing instrument. And that means that we are excited about it! It also means that we have a small and growing number of original compositions written for the double-strung harp. That’s not a whole lot of repertoire—YET. We’re working on that.

So it’s important, when we are thinking about growing the double-strung harp, to take advantage of our instrument’s potential (which is amazing, by the way, I think you would all agree with that). We need to grow our repertoire by also adapting music from other instruments, from other sources. That’s why I’m personally active as both a double-strung harp composer and arranger, so I can help add to the repertoire that’s available for our instrument, and help bring other people into our world.

Arrangements & transcriptions for double-strung harp

There are two types of musical adaptations where we would change the music around a little bit (or maybe a lot) to make it work for us and our double-strung harps. Those are arrangements and transcriptions. This is a time honored practice, by the way; this isn’t something like, “oh, we’re messing with it, that’s not a good idea.” This is something that people have been doing for centuries, since the beginnings of musical history, in all different cultures.

Arrangements are pretty closely related to the original compositions. They can actually be a little simpler, or they can be made more complex than the original. And the arranger might make musical changes in the fingering, for accidentals, the range, etc., that work better on the non-native or non-original instrument. And this is also what happens when we adapt music from, say, our single-row harp libraries, or from other kinds of harps (pedal harps, wire-strung harps, etc.). When we take that music and adapt it for double-strung harp, we are making arrangements.

Transcriptions are another kind of arrangement that are intentionally even closer to the original. They are played as written. And this isn’t just for classical music, as you might expect; this could be anywhere from Western classical music to jazz and rock. I did a couple of arrangements/transcriptions on my first CD. One was a jazz piece by Chick Corea called Children’s Song, and the other was an arrangement of a Southern rock tune by the Allman Brothers called Little Martha. So you never know what might you might be inspired to try, with arrangements and transcriptions.

(Of course, in this process, we’re also making sure that we respect intellectual property, and observe copyright law as needed, if this music isn’t in the public domain. Very important.)

Arrangements + arranging = more repertoire!

So once we understand that arrangements—and ARRANGING—are our friends, and they’re acceptable in the musical community, we can take on almost any kind of music we like (including the arrangements in today’s workshop, in our Irish music workshop), as we adapt and play original musical source material from a wide world of genres and styles. So again, to make the the the appropriate answer: you can play ALMOST anything, if it works for YOUR double-strung harp, and works for YOU.


Wrapping up

Thanks for joining me in this special Episode 5 of the Double-Strung Harp FAQ Series. If you liked what you heard today, please make sure you’re subscribed, so you can be notified of future episodes. And if you want to be the first to get some more Double Talk, more news from my website, go to that website and sign up for my mailing list at cindyshelhart.com. And we’ll get the word out to you as soon as it’s available.

In Episode 6, coming up, it’s that magical moment: you’ve got your double-strung harp and you need to know what to do next. So we’ll answer the question: “How do I start playing double-strung harp?” See you next time!

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Consider the source: compositions, arrangements, & transcriptions

In previous videos and posts, we talked about the history of the double-strung harp as an instrument. But did you ever consider that a specific piece of music has its own history?

We might know about its musical elements—its melody, rhythm, harmony, texture, and form—and its genre or style. But we can dig deeper, all the way to its source.

Same or different?

If a piece of music is written down in permanent form, it usually comes from one of three categories of source material: compositions, arrangements, and transcriptions. This means that you’re playing music that’s either the same as or different from its original form. Let’s take a closer look at these categories.

Same: compositions

A composition is a piece of music that’s originally written for a specific instrument or ensemble. Whether or not you know who the composer is, you’re expected to play their music as written, on the same original instrument (or with that same ensemble).

Different: arrangements and transcriptions

If you’d like to play a piece of music that wasn’t originally written for your instrument, this implies that you (or someone else) will make some changes to the source material. There are two types of music adaptations: arrangements and transcriptions.

  • Arrangements are closely related to compositions, and can be simpler or more complex than the original. The arranger might make musical changes in fingering, accidentals, range, etc. that work better on the non-original instrument.
  • Transcriptions are arrangements that are intentionally closer to the original, and played as written. Transcriptions are created in many musical genres, from Western classical to jazz and rock. (The term “transcription” is also used to describe process of writing down music that doesn’t already have musical notation (from a live performance, improvisation, sound recording, oral tradition, etc.).

Stay tuned

I’ve got more to share about compositions, arrangements, and transcriptions in next week’s Double-Strung Harp FAQ Series video, “Which Music Can I Play on Double-Strung Harp?” Watch this space!