Sunday, 15 October 2017

A New Harp Journey

I was quite happy downsizing my harp collection to four this year and really, (honestly) had no intention of buying anything else.  I have two Triplett Lever Harps, a 46 string pedal harp and a brass wire strung lap harp (clarsach).  Plenty of harps here for me to play.

Now, I often go on the web looking for new music to play and I was doing this a few days ago.  I must have put in a search for music to do with "water" because it brought up a tutorial by Carolyn Deal on her own composition called "Water Fairies".  So, I listened and watched, but although the tune was absolutely lovely, it was the harp I was looking at.  A double strung harp, 29 strings on one side and 29 on the other.  I had heard of double strung, but had never seen one and really did not know how it was played.

After watching another of Carolyn's tutorials, I was fascinated.  So, I watched another and another and another.  The videos are really well done and Carolyn includes a piece of music, photo view of where she lives in the mountains of North Carolina and photos of her beautiful young granddaughter at the beginning of each video.  I emailed Carolyn to ask for a full list of her tutorials in the right order and she came back with a mine of information, which was great for a newbie to double strung harps like me.  Carolyn plays Stoney End Double Strung harps and is also a distributor for them.  You can find demos of these harps on Carolyn's videos on Utube.  Click here   I showed my husband, Phil, a couple of the tutorials and he found them fascinating as well.

Anya arrived like this!

Now Phil is what I call "A Finder".  He has found all of the harps I have owned over the years. 

All bandaged up!
Anya finished

Take Anya for instance - 
a Selena 46 string pedal harp.  
Totally wrecked during a aircraft flight.

Piece broken right off.  But Phil found a way to join these pieces and then bandaged her up.  Then we waited for everything to dry.  But it was definitely worth the wait.

 Anya turned out beautifully.

Then there was Fiona, who was run over by a fork lift truck in transit.  Phil had a friend carve a swan's head to replace the piece broken off.  Then he put it back together, restrung her and replaced the broken levers with Truitt levers.  Phil also repairs other stringed instruments like guitars, cellos and violins.

I was so interested in the double strung harp that Phil decided to look for a secondhand one, but had no luck.  Then one evening he found a damaged one on the web.  No photo and very little information.  Phil called the seller a couple of times but no reply.  Finally he managed to make contact and made arrangements to collect it.  Now I have to mention here that the harp was 6 hours down into the United States and we hadn't even seen a photo and knew very little about it.  But Phil had a feeling?!?  Off he went at 4.30 am the next morning, returning at 6.30 pm that evening with the harp.

What a mess it was in.  A huge split down the right side and it was covered in grime, dust and candle wax (don't ask!).  After dinner Phil did some research and it turns out it is a Stoney End Marion 34 Double Strung (that makes 68 strings total!!!!).  

With the help of multiple clamps and a really good glue, Phil bound it up and we began the wait to see if it would hold.

Finally the clamps came off and the scraping and sanding began.  Then the painting to make it look like the rest of the harp.  It turned out great and I have been tuning for a couple of days and the strings are holding pitch.  We need to replace a number of the lower register strings, but she is saved.

Phil decided to call Stoney End Harps to purchase the missing strings.  Gary Stone of Stoney End explained that this harp was one of only two in existence and he was happy that we were going to restore her to her former glory.  Harpist, Joy Hoffman owns the other one. 

Little did I realize when I discovered Carolyn's tutorials that within 2 days I would own a double strung harp.  Fate has a strange way of intervening.  Now it is all down to me.  I have decided to follow Carolyn's tutorials and really learn how to use this harp to the best of my ability.  I can see from her very understandable and fun lessons that it will be a great instrument for improvisation, which is a skill I have never been able to master, but hope to do so in the future.  

Thank you, Carolyn, for pointing me in the direction of my new harp journey.

Wish me luck, everyone and stay tuned for my progress.

Here is my Stoney End Marion 34 Double Strung harp.

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