January 14, 2011

Why I'll play harp music from period if I damned well want to.

When last we met, I lamented the extreme paucity of harp music that survives in written form from period.  There's the Mudarra piece I mentioned for double-harp and, for the wire-strung harpists in the audience (ie - not me), there's the Robert ap Huw MS (recorded after 1600, though not by too terribly much, and certainly including much older songs).

BUT THAT WON'T STOP ME!!!  I have found, in my couple of years as a harping bard, that what I love the most is the sort of musical anthropology that goes along with early music.  Troubadour or early German music is more fun for me than later period stuff because we don't entirely know what it sounded like.  We have to use what little we do know in creative ways, like using the tuning of a lyre to tell us what a German harp c. 800 might have played or lists of who paid what to whom in X's court to figure out what instrumental accompaniment troubadours used.

And in the same vein, I get a kick out of recreating what we lack when it comes to period harp music.  Finding parallels between early harp and lute music and then creating new harp pieces based on that is even more fun than learning a pre-existing piece.  Just because we don't have the music doesn't mean we can't play something awfully close to what period harpers would have played.

And I find that to be terribly exciting.  ^_^

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