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Know the Score: Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring [Know the Score S2:E2]

Hi, I’m Cynthia Shelhart. You can call me Cindy. And it’s time for some #DoubleTalk. Double-strung harp, that is!

Welcome, or welcome back, to our channel featuring the modern double-strung harp and its music. If you’re new here, make sure you subscribe to my mailing list and YouTube channel, so you can be notified of future episodes (and catch up on the back catalog)!

This series, Know The Score, takes a behind-the-scenes look at arranging for double-strung harp, based on The Technique Triangle™️, my signature framework for double-strung harp technique.

Each episode shows how I use The Technique Triangle in different ways, in different arrangements, to help your double-strung harp “sound more like a double.”

About the Tune

Today’s Episode 2 arrangement is an adaptation of Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring, by Johann Sebastian Bach, who, in turn, arranged and orchestrated an earlier hymn tune by Johann Schop. Bach’s version appears in his 1723 cantata Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben, BWV 147.

This arrangement comes from my book Double the Weddings, part of The Double Dozen Series (available at You can play this arrangement not only for weddings, but also for recitals, concerts, special events, and worship services.

In this video, I’ll play the arrangement twice through, leaving out the optional repeat of measures 9 through 24.

About the Arrangement

Throughout the arrangement, the left hand accompaniment is varied with single notes as well as chords.

In measure 12, the left hand D major triad stays above middle C, so the stacked thirds of the triad don’t sound muddy (if they go too low).

This arrangement features Overlap Technique—what I like to call the double-strung harp’s “combo platter.” It brings everything together. Both hands can play independent parts, and it also features elements of Echo and Split Techniques. If you need a refresher on Overlap Technique, watch the “Know The Score” overview episode for a review of The Technique Triangle.

In measures 9 through 16, while the right hand plays the chorale theme with chords, the left hand switches to a single-note line that imitates the basso continuo of Bach’s original.

Using Overlap Technique

Overlap Technique isn’t just a convenient way to play the left hand up an octave. It’s also a way to make “less” sound like “more.” This comes from arranging with simpler textures that make room for the double-strung harp’s extra resonance, from its extra strings.

This doesn’t have to be boring—nor is it dumbing it down. It’s an INTENTIONAL way to use musical texture, in a way that works best for the double-strung harp AND for your arrangement.

So this arrangement of Bach’s Jesu, Joy Of Man’s Desiring is just one example of how you can use the “less is more” texture of Overlap Technique to show off the extra resonance, the extra strings of the double-strung harp. 

For YOUR next arrangement, try a “less is more” Overlap Technique approach, with some ideas like:

  • Using left hand patterns and chord voicings that use consonant intervals: unisons, fourths, fifths, and octaves. 
  • Varying the accompaniment pattern between chord tone patterns and single notes.
  • And shifting between registers for contrast…you don’t need to use Overlap Technique all the time. You can move back and forth [in and out of Overlap] to vary your arrangement. 

For more details on double-strung harp arranging with Overlap Technique, along with the other techniques of the Technique Triangle, watch for my upcoming double-strung harp arranging book!

Wrapping Up

Thanks for joining me today for Episode 2 of Know The Score. If you liked what you heard today, please make sure you’re subscribed, so you can be notified of future episodes. And if you want to be the first to get some more Double Talk, head on over to my website,, and sign up for my mailing list. 

Next time, in Episode 3, it’s a double feature. We’ll use Split Technique AND Overlap Technique to work some Mendelssohn magic with accidentals. Stay tuned (and subscribe) for more #DoubleStrungExcellence with Know The Score… see you next time!

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Know the Score: Ode to Joy [Know the Score S2:E1]

Hi, I’m Cynthia Shelhart. You can call me Cindy. And it’s time for some #DoubleTalk. Double-strung harp, that is!

Welcome, or welcome back, to our channel featuring the modern double-strung harp and its music. If you’re new here, we’re glad you joined us. Please make sure you subscribe to my mailing list and this YouTube channel, so you can be notified about future episodes. (and catch up on the back catalog!)

Know The Score

Today we’re launching Series 2, called Know The Score. It’s a behind-the-scenes look at arranging for double-strung harp, based on The Technique Triangle™️, which is my signature framework for double-strung harp technique.

Each episode shows how I use The Technique Triangle in different ways, with different arrangements, to help your double-strung harp “sound more like a double.”

About the Tune: Ode to Joy

Today’s Episode 1 inspiration is Ode to Joy by Ludwig van Beethoven. This famous theme comes from the final movement of Beethoven’s Symphony #9. It’s also used for the English-language hymn text “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee,” and it is the instrumental anthem of the European Union.

This arrangement of Ode to Joy comes from my book Double the Weddings, which is part of The Double Dozen Series. It’s available on my website, In this video, I play the arrangement twice through.

Using Echo Technique and Echo Variations

This arrangement features Echo Technique, the foundation sound of the double-strung harp. If you need a refresher on Echo Technique, be sure to watch the Know The Score overview (Episode 0) for a review of The Technique Triangle, which includes Echo Technique.

Echo variations work well if your melody has mostly notes on the beat, like the quarter notes and half notes do in Ode to Joy. This way, you have room in between the notes on the beat to play echoes. But, if you echo ALL the notes, it’s too much of a good thing.

Ode to Joy‘s main theme is relatively short. So I arranged it with an echo variation, a section using Echo Technique, to keep things interesting a second time through. This especially shows up in the A part the second time through, in measures 25 through 32.

Echo Technique, Register Shifts, and Clef Changes

Echoing with the left hand means that it needs to move up and play in the same range as the right hand. So, in this section, you’ll see the left hand part written in treble clef.

Now, just because it’s an echo, doesn’t mean that every single melody note needs to be strictly echoed. And, for example, I do things a little differently on the first beat of each measure. The left hand plays a chord root or inversion to establish the harmony, and then it jumps up to echo the right hand in a different range.

In measures 33, 41, and 43, I break up the echo variation with some left hand block chords in the bass clef. So, changing to a different register on the harp, and giving it some accompaniment variety. So, watch for those clef changes when that happens.

Different Kinds of Echoes

And there are different kinds of echoes, too. In measure 28, in the left hand D-A-D pattern, the left hand’s A actually comes in before the right hand’s A. Maybe you could think about this as an “anticipated” echo, one that comes before the melody note instead of following it.

Later on, in measures 45 and 46, the left hand syncopation gives almost an “echo-ish” feel to the accompaniment. It’s not a MELODIC echo, but the ostinato G on the off-beats makes it almost sound like a RHYTHMIC type of echo.

Why Use Echo Variations?

Echo variations, like Echo Technique, come from the double-strung harp’s direct ancestor, the Welsh triple harp. Triple harpists in the 18th century composed and performed classical-style variations on Welsh traditional airs. And, we can use this practice for other types of music, too, like I did in this arrangement of Ode to Joy.

If you’re interested in finding out more about the history of the double-strung harp, and its relation to the Welsh triple harp, be sure to catch Episode 4 (parts 1 & 2), in our Double-Strung Harp FAQ series.

Wrapping Up

So this arrangement of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy is a great example of how Echo Technique and echo variations, from the Welsh triple harp tradition, can be used for other musical genres. My upcoming book on arranging for double-strung harp goes into more detail.

Thanks for coming today. Thanks for joining me on Episode 1 of Know The Score. If you liked what you heard today, please make sure you’re subscribed, so you can be notified of future episodes. And if you really want to be one of the first to get some more Double Talk, go on over to my website,, and sign up for my mailing list.

Next time, in Episode 2 of Know The Score, we’ll show how arranging with Overlap Technique can help make less into more. See you next time!

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How Do I Start Playing Double-Strung Harp? [Double-Strung Harp FAQ S1:E6]

Hi, I’m Cynthia Shelhart. You can call me Cindy. And it’s time for some #DoubleTalk. Double-strung harp, that is!

Welcome back to our FAQ series on the double-strung harp. Last time, in Episode 5, we took a workshop view to explore all kinds of music that you can play on double-strung harp. (Did you miss the episode? Hey, we missed YOU. Make sure you’re subscribed for future episodes, OK?)

This time in Episode 6, it’s the magic moment you’ve all been waiting for. Your double-strung harp is on its way, or maybe it’s even already arrived at its new home. It’s time to take those first steps—and it can be easier than you think. Today we’ll take a look at “How do I get started playing double-strung harp?”


Let’s start with some good news about technique.

If you already play single-row harp, if you already play lever harp with a single row of strings, you’re halfway there. The same familiar technique that you use for single-row harp is the same that you use for double-strung harp: the same placing for your fingers, plucking the string, closing and replacing, fingering conventions, these are all the same. So, you’ve already made a great start there.

And an ideal place to start, I think, is if you already play at an intermediate level—if you can play independent parts with both hands together at the same time. The double-strung harp has enough new and different things about it, for your hands and your eyes and your brain, that it helps if you can get some of the other stuff out of the way, the basic harp technique that you know from single-row harp. And if you can play hands together playing independent parts, well, you’re just putting the ball in your court.

But if you’re brand new to harp, the double-strung harp IS still doable; you’ve just got a little bit more to cover. I’d recommend harp lessons to get you up to speed with basic harp technique. And you CAN do this. I would recommend doing a little research, and making sure that you find the right teacher to help you out with both things at the same time. (And I’ll have a little bit more on that later.)

Single-Row & Familiar Repertoire

Speaking of familiar stuff, you can use familiar single-row repertoire to help you get used to your double-strung harp: not just technique, but also the music that you already play.

This helps you get used to the feel and the look of 2 rows of strings. And you might be surprised to know that when you’re playing double-strung harp, it’s not just all overlapped in the same range all the time. It also includes playing hands separated, with right hand high in the melody range, and left hand a little lower, like the single-row harp. So this will also fit right in with playing double-strung harp, if you bring your single-row repertoire over.

This also helps you get used to the sound of 2 rows. If you do a slight move of your left hand up an octave, so that you can play the melody, the same right hand melody, in the left hand, at the same time, you’re actually playing in true unison. And this is something that you can’t do on a single-row harp; you have to have a double- or triple-strung harp to be able to do that. So the two unison rows of strings allow you to play the same thing in the same range. And this is a great way to get used to the sound of 2 rows.

“Double Vision”

Now there’s one more thing that everybody gets a little bit concerned about when their double-strung harp arrives, and that’s something that we nickname “double vision.” And this is a temporary disorientation from looking at the two rows of strings, instead of one. And this DOES go away with time; please be patient with yourself, but also know that the time that this takes to go away varies with individual harpists. So for you, it may be something that goes away very quickly, or it may take you a little bit of time. But again, please be patient with yourself.

The main thing that we’re looking to do is to decrease your visual dependence on the strings. And there are some things you can try:

  • One is to focus on 1 row of strings at a time. You may, for example, want to focus on the left-hand row of strings (and I’m speaking about a harp on your right shoulder); the left-hand row of strings would be closer to your head and, by extension, your eyes. Or, it might work out better if you look at the right-hand row. That means that you’re looking at the row of strings that you usually play the melody on, and this is closer to the same plane as your eyes, at eye level. So, one row might work a little better than the other on a given day. And sometimes you need to change that around a little bit, depending on the piece, or depending on the day.
  • You could also try playing lower than usual on the strings, temporarily. Usually, we play in the middle of the strings (so that we have the best sound, and activate all the harmonics on the strings). But, temporarily, it’s totally okay if you want to experiment with playing a little bit lower on the strings. It might be easier to see the strings if you look at them with the soundboard nearby.
  • You can also experiment with angling the harp differently on your shoulder, so that the peripheral vision that we use for looking at the harp strings (you know, not looking with your neck cranked around to cause it some pain), we want to make sure that you’re using peripheral vision like you do on any other harp. But, maybe angling the harp a little differently on your shoulder can help you find that “sweet spot” for your peripheral vision.
  • You can also try changing your environment. You can change your lighting, the floor covering, maybe putting a different piece of fabric or a rug down in the area where you’re looking down at your strings. There might be other background distractions. Try changing your environment around a little bit.
  • And finally, you could actually try playing with your eyes closed from time to time, to help develop your sense of touch and your muscle memory to get used to the distance between the 2 rows of strings, and the distance between the strings themselves. Many Welsh triple harpists, just like their contemporaries who played wire-strung harp (from Ireland and Highland Scotland), were also blind. So they played without the benefit of being able to see the strings. And maybe that might work for you, to try it out a little bit while you’re getting accustomed to the look of the 2 rows of strings. And your ears will tell you when it’s right. 

Make Mine a Double & Working Together

So, if you found today’s tips helpful, I’ve got a lot more music and information for you in my best-selling method book for double-strung harp, which is called Make Mine a Double. It’s available on my website,, along with other music books, sheet music, and CDs—all for double-strung harp. And that’s also where you can contact me if you’re interested in working directly in 1:1 lessons, or small group workshops. I’d love to hear from you.

Wrapping Up

So whether your double-strung harp is on its way, or that new harp is just waiting patiently for some love in your harp room,  I hope that these tips on getting started are helpful for you. 

Thanks for joining me today for Episode 6 of the double-strung harp FAQ series. If you liked what you heard today, make sure you subscribe, so you can be notified of future episodes. And if you want to be the first person to get some more Double Talk, go to my website,, and sign up for my mailing list.

And you definitely want to stay tuned and make sure you’re subscribed for next time; I’ve got a whole new double-strung harp series coming up for you, and you’ll find out all about it in the next video. You won’t want to miss it. See you next time!

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Introducing The Technique Triangle™

Back in November, I had a great time presenting an online workshop for double-strung harpists.

Along with 2 of my brand new holiday arrangements, we also talked about my signature framework for double-strung harp technique—which you might recognize from my DSH method book, Make Mine a Double.

But now, I’m officially unveiling this framework to the world as The Technique Triangle™, as part of The Shelhart Method™ for double-strung harp. I thought now would be a good time to share this with you…so, here’s what it looks like.

About DSH Techniques

Just to be clear, double-strung harp techniques fit into two categories, instrumental and compositional:

  • Instrumental techniques (aka performance techniques) train the hands, fingers, eyes, and brain for DSH sound production. You’re actively teaching your body how to play.
  • Compositional techniques are used to create music with DSH effects. Despite the name, these aren’t just for composing music from scratch, but also used in lead sheet performance, and in arranging music from other sources.

About The Technique Triangle

  • All 3 techniques of The Technique Triangle are used as both instrumental AND compositional techniques.
  • Each technique is named for its main job in playing and creating DSH music.
  • You can use these techniques to create an unlimited number of DSH patterns—but they’re still based on 1 or more of these 3 DSH techniques, and the same pattern can be used in a variety of ways.
  • Also, you don’t need to use all 3 of these technique types in the same arrangement. Using even just ONE of the techniques helps your DSH “sound more like a double.”

Echo Technique

  • Echo Technique is the foundation sound of the double-strung harp.
  • This melodic technique features the two string rows, tuned in unison; both hands echo the same notes.

Split Technique

  • Split Technique serves as the DSH’s problem-solver.
  • Also a melodic technique, the hands split similar notes—repeated notes or extended scale patterns—between hands for playing ease.
  • Split Technique also includes elements of Echo Technique.

Overlap Technique

  • Overlap Technique weaves independent parts together, as both hands overlap in the same range of the DSH to play 2 or more different parts (including accidentals).
  • In Overlap Technique, harmony, rhythm, and texture share the stage with melodic elements from Echo and Split Techniques.

More to come

I’ll be sharing more about The Technique Triangle™ and its uses for DSH next year in blog posts, workshops and more. In the meantime, consider this your invitation to subscribe to my mailing list for all the latest news & events in the world of double-strung harp!

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A tale of two Eleanors

Eleanor who? Rigby, right?

Especially after Sir Paul McCartney’s New Yorker article about how he wrote the lyrics?

You might think so. After all, I’m a Boomer who was just barely old enough to be a Beatles fan. I even had a rocking horse named Ringo.

Later, I grew up listening to the Fab Four in their various solo projects, but The Beatles always stayed with me. The Red and Blue albums on cassettes. Beatlemania on national tour. Sgt. Pepper’s and Abbey Road LPs at my local library. The December 8 news about John at the Dakota, from my local Top 40 radio station (WLS 89 AM Chicago).

So, yes, Eleanor Rigby comes to mind. But there’s another Eleanor—and she’s my harp BFF.

The same summer that I started harp lessons at Penn State, one of my first music purchases was Sylvia Woods’ collection of Turlough O’Carolan arrangements. (Remember “the purple book?” Mine finally fell apart. I moved over to a PDF version for my iPad Pro.)

From that book, my teacher and I chose Eleanor Plunkett—my first O’Carolan tune (and first Irish tune). Unlike Eleanor Rigby, Eleanor Plunkett was a real person, and O’Carolan wrote tunes for her and her family in County Meath, Ireland.

Since then, I’ve played Eleanor Plunkett on pedal and lever harps of all sizes, including double-strung harp since 1992, at concerts, weddings, and everything in between. “She” became the lead-off tune in my O’Carolan set in this performance video

And now, Eleanor has a honored place in my own book of O’Carolan arrangements for double-strung harp—published and available for orders starting today!

Thanks, Eleanor. To both of you, actually.

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The book is coming! The book is coming!

Couldn’t wait to tell you any longer… Double the O’Carolan Tunes, my newest book in The Double Dozen Series, is coming earlier than planned.

Like, NEXT WEEK early! Watch this space!

PS: here’s a preview of how it’ll look on your music stand.

PPS: And if you still need to place your pre-order for the PDF, or the PDF/print book package, you can do that here.

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O’Carolan on the double

My newest book, Double the O’Carolan Tunes (Book 2 of The Double Dozen Series) is coming soon!

While it’s in production, I thought it might be a good time to answer some questions about this new book of arrangements for double-strung harp.

So, what’s in the new book? Anything digital to go with it? 

  • This book, Double The O’Carolan Tunes, is a collection of 13 compositions by Ireland’s most famous harper and composer, Turlough O’Carolan (1670-1738), arranged for intermediate-level double-strung harp.
  • Performance advice and technique tips in each Performance Note help you sound like a polished pro.
  • Want a head start on learning the music? Online MIDI audio recordings can help you out, especially if you learn best by ear. (Download tracks soon at

You can play music from this book if:

  • You’ve just finished the Make Mine a Double method book. You’re in the right place! The intermediate-level music in Double the O’Carolan Tunes is a great addition to your repertoire, just like the Chapter 5 arrangements in MMAD.
  • You’re an experienced double-strung harp player. This book is for you, too! These custom arrangements bring out the unique qualities of the double—and make it easier for you to sound even better.
  • Each arrangement has 2-3 pages of music, depending on the length of the tune. (Longer tunes, longer arrangements.)

Can I play these arrangements on MY double-strung harp?

  • Absolutely! These arrangements are written for medium-sized (26 x 2 strings) double harps, or you can change them to fit your smaller or larger instrument.
  • Wondering about keys and tuning? I recommend a full set of levers for this book. The key signatures range from 1 flat to 2 sharps.
  • 2 of the Double the O’Carolan Tunes arrangements use pre-set tunings to help avoid lever changes, and only 1 arrangement includes a lever change. However, if you’re missing a couple of levers for a pre-set tuning, no worries. Just manually re-tune those strings.
  • In each arrangement, you’ll see register shifts for both hands, notated with treble and bass clefs, so that notes are written where they sound (with fewer ledger lines).

Where do the tunes come from? Which ones are in the book?

  • These tunes were compiled from historical manuscripts and publications by Irish music scholar Donal O’Sullivan in his book Carolan: The Life Times and Music of an Irish Harper. This is THE book for O’Carolan tunes and information.
  • Most of O’Carolan’s music was written down and published after his lifetime, so O’Sullivan used categories and sequential numbers (instead of composition dates) to organize the tunes. You’ll see these corresponding O’Sullivan numbers on the arrangements. (O’Sullivan did NOT call these tune numbers “opus numbers.” In Western classical music, opus numbers are used to catalog a composer’s works by date.)
  • Here are the arrangements you’ll find in Double the O’Carolan Tunes:
    • George Brabazon (Second Air)
    • Sir Festus Burke
    • Carolan’s Concerto
    • Carolan’s Draught
    • Carolan’s Welcome
    • Planxty Drew
    • Hewlett
    • Colonel John Irwin
    • Charles O’Conor
    • Eleanor Plunkett
    • Fanny Power
    • Sheebeg and Sheemore
    • Captain Sudley

Double the O’Carolan Tunes is available in 2 versions: a PDF digital download, or a print book/PDF download combo package. If you’re a print book person, you’ll love how the coil binding opens flat on your music stand, and the PDF is perfect for tablets! (I love using mine on my 12.9” iPad Pro with the forScore app.)

You can pre-order your copy of either version today for the first shipment (available by November 2021) right here.


PS: If you’d like to preview an arrangement from Double the O’Carolan Tunes, I’ll send you a PDF copy of Carolan’s Welcome. It’s yours when you join my list. Thanks!

PPS: And if you’re wondering how I arrange these tunes for double-strung harp, guess what? I’ve got a new book in the works about this… stay tuned for articles, videos, and more!

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Year 30 starts today

Double-Strung Harp Day

Can you believe it? 29 years ago, on September 7, 1992, I picked up my first double-strung harp at the Fox River Valley Folk Festival in Geneva IL. (That’s why I always celebrate September 7 as Double-Strung Harp Day.)

So… not only have I performed, recorded, arranged, composed, & taught double-strung harp for 29 years… today also begins YEAR 30! I’ve got big plans in store, and I’ll start by telling you about a couple of new additions to Harp Central.

New harp: Hi, I’m Dunstan

On May 19, my awesome new Double Morgan Meghan harp arrived from Rees Harps. It’s a 27×2 double-strung harp, which means it has 27 strings in each string row (that’s 54 strings, for those of you keeping score at home). It’s technically a lap harp, but has a big, warm voice. (Videos coming soon!)

The harp body’s made of cherry wood, and the soundboard is poplar with a maple veneer. The most eye-catching part is the custom soundboard, handpainted and handgilded (yes, it’s real gold leaf!) by Rees Harps’ own Garen Rees. Garen and I came up with the design from photos of medieval churches, and this Westminster Abbey holiday ornament (inspired by the Abbey’s triforium windows).

Why Dunstan? May 19, the day my harp arrived, is also the feast day of St. Dunstan of Canterbury (924-988). Among other things, St. Dunstan helped found St. Peter’s Abbey—the beginning of Westminster Abbey—and HE PLAYED THE HARP.

For real. And I’d never heard of this guy before.

So it all adds up: Harp delivery date on the feast day of a harp-playing saint? The Westminster Abbey connections? You know I had to name that harp Dunstan. You’ll see and hear Dunstan in upcoming videos!

New book coming soon

Preview cover for Double the O’Carolan Tunes book

The next book in the Double Dozen arrangement series is… Double the O’Carolan Tunes!

Stay tuned for more information in my next post. And if you want to be the first to know about the new book, make sure to sign up for my mailing list.