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Beginning - 03 Feb 2024

Easy harp melodies from 18th-century Irish sources

Description

Do you find yourself frustrated that your playing isn’t as fluent as you would like? That you stop and start in performance? Or that pieces often feel uncomfortably difficult even though you feel that they shouldn’t be? This is often due to problems we don’t even realise we are having with our with playing technique, that hinder us from playing more effortlessly and in a more relaxed way. This course will help you develop — or revisit, if you have been playing for many years — how to have a really solid technique that will get you through nerves in performance, and allow you to have much more relaxed fun in playing. But no boring scales for us! You will work on technique through learning three tunes: two airs collected from 18-century Irish harpers; one from Dominick O’Donnell, and another from Kate Martin. This course will finish up with an iconic composition by the famous Turlough Carolan.

Course Duration

6 Sessions

Level

Post-beginner+

Class Time

2:00–3:15 pm (Irish time)

Tutor(s)

Price

€130.00

Saturday | 2:00–3:15 pm (Irish time)

03 Feb

Session 1

An Bhradog Bhreagach (1 of 2)

This tune was noted by Edward Bunting from the playing of the harper Dominick O'Donnell in County Mayo at the beginning of the 19th century. The melody perfectly describes the title of the tune, evoking an image of the cunning young girl that is its subject. We will look at two different manuscripts, noting the differences in rhythm and key signature. We will then look at Edward Bunting's printed piano edition of 1840 and compare it with his manuscript pages. We will learn the treble hand with an historical fingering technique and ornaments.

10 Feb

Session 2

An Bhradog Bhreagach (2 of 2)

We will recap the work of the previous session. Now, we may also work on fleshing out the melody by adding a simple, historically plausible 'lower hand’. We will also focus on phrasing, breaths, accents, and playing both hands together.

17 Feb

Session 3

Lady Maisterton (1 of 2)

This "very ancient" tune was noted from one of the few female harpers of the 18th century for whom we have information: Kate Martin. We have two different versions from Bunting's manuscript 4.29 but we will focus on the one which we also find in manuscripts that Bunting used as drafts for his printed piano editions. We will learn this beautiful melody using historical fingering technique, adding possible historical ornaments.

24 Feb

Session 4

Lady Maisterton (2 of 2)

We will recap the work of the previous session. Now, we may also work on fleshing out the melody by adding a simple, historically plausible 'lower hand’. We will also focus on phrasing, breaths, accents, and playing both hands together.

02 Mar

Session 5

Separation of soul and body (1 of 2)

This iconic tune was composed by Turlough Carolan, the most famous Irish harper. The two parts of the tune represent the two different parts of a human being that we can describe with our harps. For this last tune we will work from the first printed collection of Irish music, edited in Dublin at the beginning of the 18th century. Adding ornaments and using historical fingering technique, we will play a plausible reconstruction of a setting for early Irish harp.

09 Mar

Session 6

Separation of soul and body (2 of 2)

We will recap the work of the previous session. Now, we may also work on fleshing out the melody by adding a simple, historically plausible 'lower hand’. We will also focus on phrasing, breaths, accents, and playing both hands together.

What to Expect

In this course, students will

  • have demonstrated, and learn, appropriate posture, hand position, and playing techniques for the early Irish harp
  • be taught two 18th-century airs, and an elegiac composition by Carolan
  • develop critical thinking skills around historical (both printed and hand-written manuscript) vs. more modern sources of Irish harp music, and how to access the best source material including free online resources
  • learn how to 'reverse engineer' from later editions of Irish harp music to get closer to the original music
  • learn plausible historical accompaniment for Irish harp melodies, based on the latest cutting-edge research into performance practice in the old, pre-1800 tradition

Technical Requirements

  • A laptop, desktop or tablet computer; we do not recommend using a phone to participate
  • Speakers or headphones
  • Access to a printer for downloadable course materials
  • Access to the Zoom platform; further information to help you get set up for participating over Zoom will be sent after you have registered

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