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Thread: Harp v Piano

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    Sr. Moderator Taggart's Avatar
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    Default Harp v Piano

    This got going on another topic entirely, but I thought it needed its own space.

    I love Carolan and would like to find some piano transcriptions. Head_Case commented Your favorite piece of music to play?
    that piano misses the "nuanced portamento" of the harp.

    I was thinking about J J Sheridan's playing e.g.
    http://youtu.be/7EFp8c6O9AI
    which I think captures some of it.

    Any thoughts on either the transcriptions or the suitability of the instruments?

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    Senior Member Ingélou's Avatar
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    I think this piece is beautifully played. J. J. Sheridan, originally from Ireland, now lives in America and has made Carolan a centre of his professional career.

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    Senior Member Ukko's Avatar
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    Some pianists, e.g. Horowitz, could effectively emulate that 'nuanced portamento'. Not all of those deceased geezers were hammerers of the klavier.
    I spent a fortune on deodorant before I realized that people don't like me anyway.

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    Sr. Moderator Taggart's Avatar
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    After all, a harp is merely a piano without any clothes.

    (One of my favourite quotes )

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    Senior Member Novelette's Avatar
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    Beethoven's 6 Variations on a Swiss Song in F, WoO 64 was indicated for either the piano or the harp.

    Having heard it performed on the harp first, I always think that the harp is the proper instrument for it. I enjoy the harp immensely, largely because of its particular portamento abilities, in fact. Still, I will have to listen more carefully to Horowitz's recordings, I hadn't noticed his ability to produce that effect on the piano.

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    Senior Member DrKilroy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Taggart View Post
    After all, a harp is merely a piano without any clothes.

    (One of my favourite quotes )
    Reminds me of a certain film with Marx Bros.


    On the IMSLP site for Bach's Italian Concerto there is a recording of its second movement played on harp. It sound very well, I think.

    Best regards, Dr
    HASTINGS: Why don't you get yourself some turned down collars, Poirot? They're much more the thing, you know.
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    Hi there,

    I don't think I've let on how much I really can't stand the piano

    Just to throw something else in the mix - are you familiar with the chinese piano (called a guzheng, or a horizontal zither). It's not quite as small as the lap harp which you referenced in the other thread and blends the qualities of the harp and the piano. You can hear both tendencies strongly in its tonal calibre:



    Whatever portamento Horowitz manages to impart into his Scriabin works will require a magnifying glass when you listen to the effortlessness in this piece on the chinese piano. The textures - both variety and nuanced blending - of the tremelos and arpeggiated dreamlike harmony scales are just incredible in this piece. Like Carolan's work, it is based on more folk-traditional music, rather than the classical tradition per se.

    Here's another more aggressively stamped piece:



    I love this instrument!

    The Finnish Kantele is another lap harp derivation:



    Maybe you'll agree, that the kantele sounds closer to a cross between a harp and a harpsichord, than say, piano?

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    Wouldn't fit in the above...

    and deleted the rest of the post

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    ...well the last bit which horrible editing incompetencies on my part ended up deleting was in answer to the transcription task.

    You can hear all the various harp derivations have marked portamento and tremelo, with the oriental chinese harp having the greatest degree of appogiatura requiring left hand bending of the strings. As you move towards the predecessor of the piano, the harpsichord, these finer plucking details are sacrificed for the keyboard strengths. The drumming effect on the chinese harp is also peculiar to this kind of harp on a half-tube zither, which can then 'echo' like a drum. Now for transcription:

    The Pachebel piece which you should be familiar with:



    If you listen to it on lap harp vs piano:



    Which do you prefer?

    I know which I prefer ....the piano version sounds stilted with deadened gaps, rather than meditative silence; it just doesn't have the sparkle and crystalline clarity which the lap harp or any of the plucked string harps would offer...

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    Senior Member hreichgott's Avatar
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    The harp is a beautiful instrument. I like listening to both harp and piano. I have always enjoyed the massive variation in tone quality/attack possible on the piano -- it can be lush, delicate, muscular, brassy, robotic, watery, percussive ... all on the same instrument. Piano will always be hands down my most favorite thing to play.
    Heather W. Reichgott, piano
    http://heatherwreichgott.blogspot.com

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    Quote Originally Posted by Head_case View Post
    Hi there,

    I don't think I've let on how much I really can't stand the piano

    Just to throw something else in the mix - are you familiar with the chinese piano (called a guzheng, or a horizontal zither). It's not quite as small as the lap harp which you referenced in the other thread and blends the qualities of the harp and the piano. You can hear both tendencies strongly in its tonal calibre:
    I've played the instrument's Japanese cousin, the koto (very briefly, only at "chopsticks" level, really). The notation looks like this:

    59 Koto Notation.jpg

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    Senior Member aleazk's Avatar
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    Why not both?:


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    Senior Member Ingélou's Avatar
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    What a lovely set of clips, H'case! Harp has the loveliest tone per se, but I prefer the piano for Pachelbel's Canon - it has more depth & moves me more. But yeah - why do we have to choose? Or limit the choice to these two?
    Mr Spock has supplied me with an equation that explains the science:

    Harp vs Piano = Harp / Chord > ***<3 --- and the answer's a Harpsichord!
    ~ Mollie ~
    My fiddle my joy.

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    Senior Member hreichgott's Avatar
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    Harpists, what do you think about the difficulty of bringing out a long "singing" line on the harp? (or I could ask the same thing about guitar?) I have only heard a few harpists (or classical guitarists) able to make a really sustained, connected cantabile sound, especially over a faster-moving accompaniment pattern. Whereas that's a basic part of Suzuki Piano books 1 and 2. Is it true that the longer sustain on a piano makes it easier?
    Heather W. Reichgott, piano
    http://heatherwreichgott.blogspot.com

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    Another "nude piano" but again an alternative to the harp:



    Marvellous to see all the variations on a theme - bit like hreichgott I feel that although they all have their own charm, the piano is Queen.

    Thanks for all the interesting posts

    The one thing I am still curious about is piano transcriptions of Carolan - any thoughts?

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