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 CindyShelhart.com). 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!
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, CindyShelhart.com, 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!
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, CindyShelhart.com. 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.
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, CindyShelhart.com, 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!
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. We’ve just finished up a series of double-strung harp FAQ videos, featuring everything from “What is a double-strung harp?” and its historical roots, to choosing an instrument for yourself and getting started playing a double harp. If you missed those episodes—hey, it’s never too late for some Double Talk! Make sure to catch those episodes to catch up. And make sure you’re subscribed for future episodes.
About Know The Score
You’re here at just the right time for some exciting stuff. Starting with this episode, we’re switching gears for a new season. We’ll dig deeper into arranging music for double-strung harp with a new series called Know The Score.
Know The Score, which is new to Series 2, is a behind-the-scenes look at arranging for double-strung harp, based on The Shelhart Method™️, my approach to tunes, technique, and theory for double-strung harp.
Each episode also goes deeper on The Technique Triangle™️, my signature framework for double-strung harp technique, as part of The Shelhart Method.
This new series is going to focus on using The Technique Triangle in different ways with different arrangements, to really help your double-strung harp “sound more like a double.” You’ll see this in action with arrangements from my Double Dozen Series books: Double the Weddings, and Double the O’Carolan Tunes.
About The Technique Triangle
You might recognize these double-strung harp techniques from my method book, Make Mine a Double; they’re now known as The Technique Triangle, as part of The Shelhart Method. (I also wrote a blog post recently introducing The Technique Triangle, and I’ll put a link to that post in the show notes.) If you’re new to these techniques, or if you’d like a little reminder, we’ll take a look under the hood.
Each technique of The Technique Triangle is named for its main job in playing and creating double-strung harp music.
You can use these techniques to create an unlimited number of double-strung harp patterns, but they’re still based on 1 or more of these 3 double-strung harp techniques. And the same pattern can be used in a variety of ways.
Also, you don’t need to use all three of these techniques in the same arrangement. Using even just ONE of these techniques can help your double-strung harp “sound more like a double.”
The 3 Techniques
So let’s take a look at the 3 techniques:
Echo Technique is the foundation sound of the double-strung harp—what everyone expects to hear from 2 rows of strings. This melodic technique features the 2 string rows, and they’re tuned in unison. And both hands echo the same notes back and forth.
Split Technique serves as the double-strung harp’s problem solver. It’s also a melodic technique. And it helps out, when you have repeated notes or an extended scale pattern, when you can split similar notes back and forth between hands, so that it’s easier to play. And Split Technique also includes some elements of Echo Technique.
The third technique, Overlap Technique, is what I like to call the “combo platter” of double-strung harp techniques. It weaves independent parts together, as both hands overlap in the same range to play two or more different parts at the same time, including accidentals. So that’s where some of the lever changes, or maybe not even having to make lever changes, can come in handy. In Overlap Technique, harmony and rhythm and texture share the same stage with the melodic techniques and elements from Echo and Split Techniques.
So, these 3 parts of The Technique Triangle, the part of The Shelhart Method that really helps your harp “sound more like a double,” are the foundation for our new look behind the scenes at the arranging process. You’ll see how I used these techniques—and how you can, too—with example arrangements from my Double Dozen book series.
Thanks for joining me today for Episode Zero, the overview of our new series. 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 the first to get some more Double Talk, head on over to my website, CindyShelhart.com, and sign up for my mailing list.
So stay tuned (and subscribed) for next time—our first Series 2 episode features some great ways to arrange with Echo Technique, that unmistakable sound of the double-strung harp. Get ready to Know The Score… see you next time!
Have you noticed that the Irish have a preference for things that come in threes? And that’s not just limited to three-leaf shamrocks, or the green-white-orange Irish flag.
The Irish have been using the “triad form” (arranging ideas by threes) for centuries, including in the Old Irish collection Trecheng Breth Féne “A Triad of Judgments of the Irish”, or “The Triads of Ireland”, from the 9th century. (Learn more in Triads of Ireland on Wikipedia.)
The Three Musics in History
And even earlier, Irish mythology used the number three in the story of the good god The Dagda and his magical harp (his greatest treasure), whose music could cause listeners to laugh, weep, or fall asleep. These three moods, or qualities, are sometimes called the “Three Noble Strains” or “The Three Musics” of harp music:
Geantraí (“joyful music“)
Goltraí (”sorrowful music“)
Suantraí (“lullaby music“)
You can hear the modern Irish and Scottish Gaelic pronunciations of these terms here.
Later, these “noble strains” became the “three musics” required of ancient harpers in Ireland and Gaelic Scotland. In his first book, The Ancient Music of Ireland (Dublin, 1840), music collector Edward Bunting included the Old Irish spellings of these terms (geantraige, goltraige, and súantraige) which he learned from harpers at the 1792 Belfast Harp Festival.
You can learn more about the harp in Irish mythology in Scottish harper Ailie’s Robertson’s blog post.
And my US harper friend Jo Morrison wrote a 3-part tune to, in her words, “embody the three types of music required of ancient harpers, the music of joy, sorrow, and sleep.” This tune is the title track of her CD The Three Musics.
Good Things Come in Threes
So what do “The Three Musics” and the double-strung harp have in common? Easy—the number THREE!
When I created The Technique Triangle™, the easy way to make your double-strung harp “sound more like a double,” I literally based it on 3 basic techniques. Once you master these 3, you can use them in endless combinations, in a wide variety of music… which includes Irish music!
Yesterday, January 5, 2022, was the 12th (and last) day of Christmas for many folks. And in the Christmas carol The 12 Days of Christmas, the gift on day 12 is the noisiest thing that anyone EVER gave their true love. (What were they thinking?)
Today (the day after the 12th day), Christmas is over, and it’s a little quieter. (Maybe the other 11 drummers went home after the gig.) Now, it’s just you. Back to ONE drummer drumming. (OK, or one harpist strumming. You get the idea.)
But there’s still a lot going on. Musically speaking, any harpist wears a lot of hats. Even when you’re playing on your own, you’re actually a 1-human band or orchestra. You play melody AND harmony, AND you’re also the rhythm section (bass and percussion—yes, you’re a drummer, too).
And when you add a second row of strings? Holy multitasking, Batman. How do you put it all together?
Hand independence (and coordination)
Ever wonder why it’s so hard to rub your stomach and pat your head (or walk and chew gum) at the same time? Or why it’s hard to play 2 different parts (left & right hands) at the same time?
Your brain DOESN’T want to do 2 different things at once. It naturally wants to match one hand to the other, instead of letting each do its own thing. And it probably tells your dominant hand that it should take the lead. Every. Single. Time.
Sure, you can play a single line of music with one hand, or even the same melody with both hands, and it’ll sound great. (It’s a harp, after all.) That’s how we start. Eventually, though, you might want to do something more. And playing a piece of music with “something more” not only involves hand independence, but also coordination between hands. You’ll need to put those parts together.
The more you can develop hand independence and coordination (doing different things with each hand as you play, as you play both hands together), the more confidence you’ll have in playing more complex music, and playing at faster tempi in general.
And the best news of all? You’ve already got the ideal instrument to help you on your way to hand independence—your double-strung harp! My signature framework, The Technique Triangle™ for double-strung harp, teaches 3 techniques that help you make the most of 2 hands AND 2 rows of strings.
Unison Playing and Echo Technique = “Same”
Everyone wants to start with Echo Technique, the unique effect most associated with the double-strung harp. Awesome—it’s also the best introduction to the instrument. Why? Same is easier than different!
Our hands naturally want to move in the same direction when playing the harp, so it makes sense to start with both hands playing the same notes before moving on to independent parts. Unison playing, the ULTIMATE “same thing” approach, is easiest because both hands play the same pitches and rhythms, and both parts move in the same direction (this is described as moving in parallel motion).On a diatonic double-strung harp, playing in unison also uses the same fingering for each hand (“mirror” fingering), which eliminates any differences between hands.
If you’re used to playing single-row harps with hands separated, you’ll also find unison playing useful when learning to play DSH with hands overlapped in the same plane. The easiest way to overlap is to place and play the same notes in each hand; this feels familiar, like the “home row” in touch typing. Unison playing, with its “home row” orientation and parallel motion, can also help a new player adjust visually to the double harp.
After unison playing, Echo Technique is the next easiest approach to the double-strung harp. Both hands still move in parallel motion (easier than contrary motion), and play the same pitches, while the melodic rhythm is sometimes modified slightly for smooth echoing.
Because Echo Technique is also the foundation for Split Technique and Overlap Technique, you will continue to see “echo-style” passages as techniques progress from same to similar and different.
Split Technique = “Similar”
After Echo Technique, Split Technique is the next easiest technique to play on the double-strung harp. Split Technique describes the process of dividing a melodic passage between hands on the two unison rows of the harp. This helps you play repeated or similar notes, extended scale passages, and complex ornamentation with increased clarity and speed.
Split Technique is often used to alternate repeated notes between hands in fast or complex music that doesn’t need accompaniment; this includes traditional dance tunes like jigs, strathspeys and reels. These tunes were originally composed for fiddle, pipe, whistle or flute, which use a bow or the tongue to articulate repeated notes. It can be tricky to play repeated notes on a single-row harp, because the player must replace fingers on already vibrating strings. On a double-strung harp, you can divide the repeated notes between two rows to prevent them from buzzing or “canceling each other out.”
Because not every melody has repeated notes, or conveniently moves in consecutive steps, you’ll eventually need to move your hands in opposite directions, or contrary motion. In Split Technique, fingering and placing become less similar between hands, as you begin to play different pitches and rhythms in each hand.
You can think of Split Technique as a similar middle ground, between the same of Echo Technique and the independent or different aspects of Overlap Technique.
Overlap Technique = “Different”
Overlap Technique, the third and final part of The Technique Triangle, completes the hand independence progression from same (Echo Technique) to similar (Split Technique) to different. You can use both rows of the DSH to play independent parts, including echoed notes and split melodic passages, which overlap in the same range of the harp. You can also set sharping levers on either string row for different tunings, making accidentals easier.
As pitches and rhythms (and their fingering and placing) vary between hands, you’ll find more occurrences of contrary motion (playing in opposite directions) in Overlap Technique. It can be challenging enough to play in contrary motion on 1 row of strings, with hands separated—now, we begin to play in opposite directions on 2 overlapping rows.
Like playing unisons in the same plane, this is a physical difference that may take some getting used to. But the potential difficulty lies in contrary motion itself, not necessarily in playing overlapped contrary motion. This takes practice and time, at slow tempi—eventually, it’ll click! (Speaking of click: don’t forget your metronome… see below.)
And if you’re ready for an extreme “brain twister” for contrary motion, try playing a two-part round! 😜 My DSH method book, Make Mine a Double, includes the French children’s song Frère Jacques as an Overlap Technique etude (along with 80 other exercises, etudes, and arrangements).
Practice and the “M” word (metronome)
You may need to practice some pieces or passages by playing hands separately. Pieces or passages with interlocking parts, such as repeated notes or two-handed ornaments (see Chapter 3), may need to be practiced hands together (very slowly to start!). The practice approach depends on the musical context, and the individual harpist. Think of rubbing your stomach and patting your head at the same time: some people learn to do this right away with both hands, and others are successful after they practice the actions separately first, then in combination.
To isolate the alternating rhythms of Echo Technique, you may also like to try “drumming” the rhythms on your lap, the soundboard of your harp, or another horizontal surface. As you count aloud (a metronome is handy here), find and practice the spots where you play right hand or left hand alone, and the places where hands play together. For more information on this practice technique, check out the “Drumming the Rhythm” section of Ann Heymann’s book, Coupled Hands for Harpers.
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 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 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 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!
About Cindy Shelhart
Double-strung harp expert Cindy Shelhart is a performing artist, composer, & educator. Read more
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