You Too Can Play a Concert Harp
Ever attend a really swag-time event, like a nurse’s cap ceremony or a fraternity initiation, or ever walk into the ladies room by mistake, and fall in love with the wonderful harp music filling the air? Bet you have, and wouldn’t it be awesome if you—yes, you, Jerry Morgan of 1511 West Adamsley of Lake Perch, Iowa—could play the harp like that?
Playing the harp is easy! Basically every harp performance boils down to these three steps:
- Look at the music for the song you want to play
- Match the appropriate note on the sheet music to the string on the harp
- Pluck the appropriate strings in the order they appear on the sheet music
That’s easy! Gosh, even a moron with no musical sense at all could do that instead of always being the drummer. With this essay, the Czar will show you how you can play the harp.
First, you need to understand the parts of the instrument. The harp is generally a big golden yellow frame with a bunch of vertical strings. If your harp has only horizontal strings, turn it 90° upright. If your harp has no strings, you should entertain the idea that whatever it is you’re holding at the moment may not be a harp.
There are two types of harp: the pedal and the lever harp. There may actually be several more types of harps than this, but that would require substantially more research than the Czar is planning to do on this post.
Longer strings produce deeper notes, and shorter strings produce higher notes. Using measuring tape, carefully measure out all the strings to be certain the longer ones are at one end, and the shorter ones are at the other.
You wouldn’t know it to merely look at pictures of a harp on the internet like we did, but actually the strings on a harp are different colors. This is because professional harp players with decades of experience have no clue how to tell the strings apart, either. You think you’re dumb? Anyhow, all the red strings are C notes, and all the blue strings are F notes. The other strings are similar colors, often the natural color of whatever the strings was made out of. ‘Puter, we learned after he fell asleep in the Castle lobby, has a leopard-print G string. Imagine how that sounds? Sure didn’t smell all that great.
Okay, you’re asking no one, so that means after the red string comes a D and an E, then the blue string (F), and then the G, A, and B strings. So how do you do sharps and flats on a harp, or are harp players eternally cursed to play “Yankee Doodle” over and over in a C major scale like the harp is some $20,000 wood and brass Flutophone?
Well, the lever harps fix this by having you stomp on a lever. This causes the strings to stretch or slacken by a half step or so, so that you can do your damn sharps and flat. In a piece with a lot of sharps and flat, heck, this can be a lot of work. And the pedal harps can change all the strings to a new key entirely. Feel free to mess around with this until nobody understands what the hell you’re doing.
So if you have a piece written in D♭, you better learn to read music in C♯ on the fly because there is no different setting between the two. Which brings up a point: having really good knowledge of music might be a good thing to have when learning to play the harp.
That’s about all there is! As a result, the harp is probably among the easiest of all incredibly difficult instruments to play. The Czar is quite confident you can play a harp as well as he can, even though he’s never actually touched one.
Божію Поспѣшествующею Милостію Мы, Дима Грозный Императоръ и Самодержецъ Всероссiйскiй, цѣсарь Московскiй. The Czar was born in the steppes of Russia in 1267, and was cheated out of total control of all Russia upon the death of Boris Mikhailovich, who replaced Alexander Yaroslav Nevsky in 1263. However, in 1283, our Czar was passed over due to a clerical error and the rule of all Russia went to his second cousin Daniil (Даниил Александрович), whom Czar still resents. As a half-hearted apology, the Czar was awarded control over Muscovy, inconveniently located 5,000 miles away just outside Chicago. He now spends his time seething about this and writing about other stuff that bothers him.