March 16, 2010

Awesome Harpers Part 2: Harper Tasche

Harper Tashce is a harper and composer based in the Seattle area who specializes in small and cross-strung harps.  He's helped to promote the North American resurgence of cross-strung harps by expanding the limited repertoire and helping to establish a sound technique.  And he's contributed much-needed original compositions for small harp (I swear to God, if I have to hear "Star of the County Down" one more time...).

This is "Skua," one of his original compositions for 26-string lever harp (music begins at 3:10).  Note how the initial rhythmic freedom builds into a driving, syncopated beat over a steady left hand - it takes strength and good technique to be that even with your left hand!  I think "builds" is really the best way to characterize this song - it's got a wonderful feeling of inertia.  This is a far cry from the "plinky little chords and arpeggios" that I'm sick of hearing from folk harps.  Neither is it "pseudo-celtic muzak."  It's bright, it's interesting, it's evocative, it's original and it's what I, as a composer and arranger, aspire to.

He also plays the rennasaince bray harp, and it absolutely kills me that I can't find a clip of this anywhere!  Though primarily based in Washington State, Tasche gigs and teaches around the country.  Look for him at the Somerset Folk Harp Festival and at Harpcon late this summer.  He's recorded numerous albums and published several books of music and technique, all of which are available through his website.

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