Online Group-Tuition Programmes

Acadamy Programmes

Beginning - 05 Feb 2022

Rediscovering the early Irish harp: history and craftsmanship

Description

This course takes an in-depth look at the early Irish harp as an historical musical instrument. We will explore its history and craftsmanship through investigation of the surviving instruments and study of historical source material. Course participants will learn about the materials and construction methods used to make these harps, how to examine an historical instrument, and how to interpret and use that information. Participants will also learn to observe and interpret evidence of historical repairs, modifications, and signs of use. Course sessions will include interactive activities, and assignments to work on during the week to further explore the course material and develop skills and understanding. This course provides a fundamental foundation of knowledge and skills not only for musicians but particularly for instrument makers, to inform and develop their harp-making craftsmanship.

Note: the final session will be a presentation on reconstructing instruments from historical evidence, with guest speaker, Dr Alice Margerum.

In this course students will:

  • gain an understanding of the history of the early Irish harp, and its musical and cultural context
  • become familiar with the surviving historical harps, and how to examine and study them
  • develop skills of investigation, observation and interpretation of historical instruments
  • learn about design philosophy and 'replica' instruments, and understand why these concepts are important
  • learn how to use observations and understanding of early Irish harps to inform playing style and make informed choices when making or acquiring a new harp
  • learn about reconstructing instruments from historical evidence

 

Course Duration

6 Sessions

Level

All

Class Time

3.30pm – 4.45 pm

Tutor(s)

Price

€120.00

Saturday | 3.30pm – 4.45 pm

05 Feb

Session 1

History and context: an overview

History and context: an overview

In this session, we will survey the history of harps in Ireland and Scotland, from the medieval period to the present day, paying particular attention to the metal-strung harps played in Ireland and the Highlands and Islands of Scotland until the early 19th century. We'll consider these harps in the context of their historical time periods and the music that was performed on them.

12 Feb

Session 2

The surviving instruments, and how to examine and study them

The surviving instruments, and how to examine and study them

In this session, we will look at the surviving early Irish harps and explore their construction and craftsmanship. We'll discuss methods for examining an historical instrument, what to look for, and what to record and measure.

19 Feb

Session 3

Historical decorative work

Historical decorative work

In this session, we'll focus on the decorative work of the surviving instruments. We'll discuss style, methods and materials, and historical and cultural context. We'll also discuss how to identify and interpret evidence of decoration that may have been reworked or added later.

26 Feb

Session 4

How to look for, and interpret, signs of use on the historical harps

How to look for, and interpret, signs of use on the historical harps

In this session, we'll discuss how to identify and interpret signs of use on the surviving instruments. We'll explore how these can inform performance practice, and what they can tell us about the working lives of these harps.

05 Mar

Session 5

Design philosophy, historical modifications and 'replica' instruments

Design philosophy, historical modifications and 'replica' instruments

In this session, we'll look at how to identify, assess and interpret historical modifications, damage, and repairs. We'll also consider the design of these harps — What was the maker's intention? —  and we'll discuss 'replica' instruments in this context.  

12 Mar

Session 6

Reconstructing instruments from historical evidence [Guest speaker: Dr Alice Margerum]

Reconstructing instruments from historical evidence [Guest speaker: Dr Alice Margerum]

This session addresses musical instrument construction, the practical application of information gleaned from museum examples, and the difference between ‘replicas’ and historically-informed ‘reconstructions’.

What to Expect

  • Six live classes, each lasting 1.25 hours, in an online Zoom room, shared with other participants
  • Each session is video-recorded and available to you, 48 hours after the live event, until your course-access period ends
  • You will  have access to downloadable PDF  and / or audiofile class materials

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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