February 13, 2010

Harp Autopsy

We were sitting there eating dinner in our dining room when from the living room, we hear a sudden "KA-POW," like all of the strings on my harp had broken at once, or like she had fallen off a table onto a tile floor.  This was somewhat bewildering, as she had been resting on her back on the carpet floor.  The picture I posted earlier is what happened - she spontaneously snapped along the neck and pillar and flew apart.

Harps are at their strongest when the grain runs long down a piece, and at their weakest when it runs out across it.  You can see that where the split happened in the pillar was where the pillar starts to curve against the grain of the maple.  In order to counteract this, Aeron builds his necks and pillars out of three layers of wood with the grains crossed, so that a weakness in the grain of one wood is strengthened by another piece - essentially building his own plywood.  Unfortunately, 14 years ago this was only the second harp Aeron had built with this particular design, and he hadn't yet settled on the grain alignment he now uses.

The bad news is this happened two weeks before Bardic Madness.  I am as much an instrumentalist as I am a singer, and I feel very strongly that musical bardic performance is many times better with instrumental accompaniment, when possible - it's more of a complete musical experience.  And I wrote my songs for Gertrude.  I don't think I can bring myself to perform my songs a cappella

The good news is Aeron thinks he can build her a new neck and pillar in time for the event.  And, if that doesn't happen, I've already had one offer from a wonderful woman in my barony to let me use her harp at the event.  So.  Gertrude will rise again.  Like the mother-effing phoenix.  And phoenix or no phoenix, there will be harping at Bardic Madness.  Oh yes.  There will be harping.

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