Sylvia Crawford

An Introduction to Old Irish Harp Playing Techniques

Published 1st July 2021

This book explains how to play the three first tunes traditionally taught to young Irish harpers. Working phrase-by-phrase through each of the tunes, Sylvia’s descriptions, photographs and music notation guide your fingers to learn the playing techniques of the old Irish harpers.

There is also an introductory section explaining Sylvia’s work in reconstructing the lost art of playing the old Irish harp.

Sylvia is originally from County Armagh. After studying music and musicology at Queen’s University Belfast, she moved away from the area in the 1990s. One of her motivations was to seek out and learn Irish traditional music, playing the fiddle, and she also started to play the old Irish harp. It wasn’t until she returned to live in Armagh that she discovered the local traditions of Irish harp playing in County Armagh from a bit over 200 years ago. She made a special study of the old Irish harper Patrick Quin, who was from county Armagh.

Patrick Quin was a key tradition-bearer, and the music collector Edward Bunting wrote down the three first tunes from Quin’s playing. Sylvia’s study of Quin and his music fed naturally into her interest in teaching. This book is the result of her efforts to reconstruct the playing techniques of the old Irish harpers, by marrying the three first tunes, with the traditional fingering techniques collected by Bunting from the old harpers. Sylvia has taken what she has learned from her study of Patrick Quin and the wider traditions he was part of, and used her insights to bring these traditions back to life.

Sylvia’s harp was made for her in 2020 by Pedro Ferreira ( It is based on the Castle Otway harp (Trinity College Dublin) which was associated with Patrick Quin.

Published in Armagh by Simon Chadwick, 2021
ISBN 978-1-8384891-0-6
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