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Introducing the Technique Triangle™

Back in November, I had a great time presenting an online workshop for double-strung harpists.

Along with 2 of my brand new holiday arrangements, we also talked about my signature framework for double-strung harp technique—which you might recognize from my DSH method book, Make Mine a Double.

But now, I’m officially unveiling this framework to the world as The Technique Triangle™, as part of The Shelhart Method™ for double-strung harp. I thought now would be a good time to share this with you…so, here’s what it looks like.

About DSH Techniques

Just to be clear, double-strung harp techniques fit into two categories, instrumental and compositional:

  • Instrumental techniques (aka performance techniques) train the hands, fingers, eyes, and brain for DSH sound production. You’re actively teaching your body how to play.
  • Compositional techniques are used to create music with DSH effects. Despite the name, these aren’t just for composing music from scratch, but also used in lead sheet performance, and in arranging music from other sources.

About The Technique Triangle

  • All 3 techniques of The Technique Triangle are used as both instrumental AND compositional techniques.
  • Each technique is named for its main job in playing and creating DSH music.
  • You can use these techniques to create an unlimited number of DSH patterns—but they’re still based on 1 or more of these 3 DSH techniques, and the same pattern can be used in a variety of ways.
  • Also, you don’t need to use all 3 of these technique types in the same arrangement. Using even just ONE of the techniques helps your DSH “sound more like a double.”

Echo Technique

  • Echo Technique is the foundation sound of the double-strung harp.
  • This melodic technique features the two string rows, tuned in unison; both hands echo the same notes.

Split Technique

  • Split Technique serves as the DSH’s problem-solver.
  • Also a melodic technique, the hands split similar notes—repeated notes or extended scale patterns—between hands for playing ease.
  • Split Technique also includes elements of Echo Technique.

Overlap Technique

  • Overlap Technique weaves independent parts together, as both hands overlap in the same range of the DSH to play 2 or more different parts (including accidentals).
  • In Overlap Technique, harmony, rhythm, and texture share the stage with melodic elements from Echo and Split Techniques.

More to come

I’ll be sharing more about The Technique Triangle™ and its uses for DSH next year in blog posts, workshops and more. In the meantime, consider this your invitation to subscribe to my mailing list for all the latest news & events in the world of double-strung harp!

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A tale of two Eleanors

Eleanor who? Rigby, right?

Especially after Sir Paul McCartney’s New Yorker article about how he wrote the lyrics?

You might think so. After all, I’m a Boomer who was just barely old enough to be a Beatles fan. I even had a rocking horse named Ringo.

Later, I grew up listening to the Fab Four in their various solo projects, but The Beatles always stayed with me. The Red and Blue albums on cassettes. Beatlemania on national tour. Sgt. Pepper’s and Abbey Road LPs at my local library. The December 8 news about John at the Dakota, from my local Top 40 radio station (WLS 89 AM Chicago).

So, yes, Eleanor Rigby comes to mind. But there’s another Eleanor—and she’s my harp BFF.

The same summer that I started harp lessons at Penn State, one of my first music purchases was Sylvia Woods’ collection of Turlough O’Carolan arrangements. (Remember “the purple book?” Mine finally fell apart. I moved over to a PDF version for my iPad Pro.)

From that book, my teacher and I chose Eleanor Plunkett—my first O’Carolan tune (and first Irish tune). Unlike Eleanor Rigby, Eleanor Plunkett was a real person, and O’Carolan wrote tunes for her and her family in County Meath, Ireland.

Since then, I’ve played Eleanor Plunkett on pedal and lever harps of all sizes, including double-strung harp since 1992, at concerts, weddings, and everything in between. “She” became the lead-off tune in my O’Carolan set in this performance video

And now, Eleanor has a honored place in my own book of O’Carolan arrangements for double-strung harp—published and available for orders starting today!

Thanks, Eleanor. To both of you, actually.

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The book is coming! The book is coming!

Couldn’t wait to tell you any longer… Double the O’Carolan Tunes, my newest book in The Double Dozen Series, is coming earlier than planned.

Like, NEXT WEEK early! Watch this space!

PS: here’s a preview of how it’ll look on your music stand.

PPS: And if you still need to place your pre-order for the PDF, or the PDF/print book package, you can do that here.

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O’Carolan on the double

My newest book, Double the O’Carolan Tunes (Book 2 of The Double Dozen Series) is coming soon!

While it’s in production, I thought it might be a good time to answer some questions about this new book of arrangements for double-strung harp.


So, what’s in the new book? Anything digital to go with it? 

  • This book, Double The O’Carolan Tunes, is a collection of 13 compositions by Ireland’s most famous harper and composer, Turlough O’Carolan (1670-1738), arranged for intermediate-level double-strung harp.
  • Performance advice and technique tips in each Performance Note help you sound like a polished pro.
  • Want a head start on learning the music? Online MIDI audio recordings can help you out, especially if you learn best by ear. (Download tracks soon at cynthiashelhart.com/resources.)

You can play music from this book if:

  • You’ve just finished the Make Mine a Double method book. You’re in the right place! The intermediate-level music in Double the O’Carolan Tunes is a great addition to your repertoire, just like the Chapter 5 arrangements in MMAD.
  • You’re an experienced double-strung harp player. This book is for you, too! These custom arrangements bring out the unique qualities of the double—and make it easier for you to sound even better.
  • Each arrangement has 2-3 pages of music, depending on the length of the tune. (Longer tunes, longer arrangements.)

Can I play these arrangements on MY double-strung harp?

  • Absolutely! These arrangements are written for medium-sized (26 x 2 strings) double harps, or you can change them to fit your smaller or larger instrument.
  • Wondering about keys and tuning? I recommend a full set of levers for this book. The key signatures range from 1 flat to 2 sharps.
  • 2 of the Double the O’Carolan Tunes arrangements use pre-set tunings to help avoid lever changes, and only 1 arrangement includes a lever change. However, if you’re missing a couple of levers for a pre-set tuning, no worries. Just manually re-tune those strings.
  • In each arrangement, you’ll see register shifts for both hands, notated with treble and bass clefs, so that notes are written where they sound (with fewer ledger lines).

Where do the tunes come from? Which ones are in the book?

  • These tunes were compiled from historical manuscripts and publications by Irish music scholar Donal O’Sullivan in his book Carolan: The Life Times and Music of an Irish Harper. This is THE book for O’Carolan tunes and information.
  • Most of O’Carolan’s music was written down and published after his lifetime, so O’Sullivan used categories and sequential numbers (instead of composition dates) to organize the tunes. You’ll see these corresponding O’Sullivan numbers on the arrangements. (O’Sullivan did NOT call these tune numbers “opus numbers.” In Western classical music, opus numbers are used to catalog a composer’s works by date.)
  • Here are the arrangements you’ll find in Double the O’Carolan Tunes:
    • George Brabazon (Second Air)
    • Sir Festus Burke
    • Carolan’s Concerto
    • Carolan’s Draught
    • Carolan’s Welcome
    • Planxty Drew
    • Hewlett
    • Colonel John Irwin
    • Charles O’Conor
    • Eleanor Plunkett
    • Fanny Power
    • Sheebeg and Sheemore
    • Captain Sudley

Double the O’Carolan Tunes is available in 2 versions: a PDF digital download, or a print book/PDF download combo package. If you’re a print book person, you’ll love how the coil binding opens flat on your music stand, and the PDF is perfect for tablets! (I love using mine on my 12.9” iPad Pro with the forScore app.)

You can pre-order your copy of either version today for the first shipment (available by November 2021) right here.

Cheers!
-Cindy

PS: If you’d like to preview an arrangement from Double the O’Carolan Tunes, I’ll send you a PDF copy of Carolan’s Welcome. It’s yours when you join my list. Thanks!

PPS: And if you’re wondering how I arrange these tunes for double-strung harp, guess what? I’ve got a new book in the works about this… stay tuned for articles, videos, and more!

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Year 30 starts today

Double-Strung Harp Day

Can you believe it? 29 years ago, on September 7, 1992, I picked up my first double-strung harp at the Fox River Valley Folk Festival in Geneva IL. (That’s why I always celebrate September 7 as Double-Strung Harp Day.)

So… not only have I performed, recorded, arranged, composed, & taught double-strung harp for 29 years… today also begins YEAR 30! I’ve got big plans in store, and I’ll start by telling you about a couple of new additions to Harp Central.

New harp: Hi, I’m Dunstan

On May 19, my awesome new Double Morgan Meghan harp arrived from Rees Harps. It’s a 27×2 double-strung harp, which means it has 27 strings in each string row (that’s 54 strings, for those of you keeping score at home). It’s technically a lap harp, but has a big, warm voice. (Videos coming soon!)

The harp body’s made of cherry wood, and the soundboard is poplar with a maple veneer. The most eye-catching part is the custom soundboard, handpainted and handgilded (yes, it’s real gold leaf!) by Rees Harps’ own Garen Rees. Garen and I came up with the design from photos of medieval churches, and this Westminster Abbey holiday ornament (inspired by the Abbey’s triforium windows).

Why Dunstan? May 19, the day my harp arrived, is also the feast day of St. Dunstan of Canterbury (924-988). Among other things, St. Dunstan helped found St. Peter’s Abbey—the beginning of Westminster Abbey—and HE PLAYED THE HARP.

For real. And I’d never heard of this guy before.

So it all adds up: Harp delivery date on the feast day of a harp-playing saint? The Westminster Abbey connections? You know I had to name that harp Dunstan. You’ll see and hear Dunstan in upcoming videos!

New book coming soon

Preview cover for Double the O’Carolan Tunes book

The next book in the Double Dozen arrangement series is… Double the O’Carolan Tunes!

Stay tuned for more information in my next post. And if you want to be the first to know about the new book, make sure to sign up for my mailing list.

Cheers!
-Cindy