Irish harp

From the introduction to my book, Progressive Lessons (2017):

Nowadays, there are many different types of harps from many different countries, all competing for space in a post-modern global melting pot. But people have always known about the old Gaelic harp traditions of Ireland and Scotland, using a big harp of “…about thirty brass wires, the twang of which give the music a striking metallic brilliancy. The high notes are given with the left hand, reserving the more powerful member for the deep notes of the bass.” (Chambers’ Edinburgh Journal 19th Sept 1840)

I started with an interest in the oldest strands of the Scottish and Irish harp traditions. But in 2017, I decisively changed direction; my current work is concentrating on the tradition-bearers of the late 18th and early 19th century. I am interested in lineage, transmission and trying to connect to the broken end of the living tradition 200 years ago.

In 2018-19 I researched, and commissioned from Atelier Rumor, a detailed “archaeological” copy of the 17th or 18th century NMI Carolan harp owned by the National Museum of Ireland, which I am now using to explore old Irish harp playing techniques, style and idiom.

The reconstruction copy of the NMI Carolan harp. Photo: Atelier Rumor