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  • emramey

Old English for the harp

There are so many styles of music in the world and in history. Some genres of music were composed with the harp in mind as a main instrument. Other music was composed with other instruments in mind. Looking at what of that translates nicely to harp brings to mind harpsicord and lute. The harpsicord was the predecessor of the piano, and instead of having the keys struck they were plucked. Music written for the harpsicord can be a good fit for the harp, depending on number of accidentals in a piece. Another tremendously popular instrument from days gone by is the lute. Lutes were everywhere and music for lutes was also everywhere. A lute was a string instrument, similar to a guitar. I have read that wome shopkeepers would have a lute on hand, for customers to play and entertain themselves while they waited.


In my music collection, I have several books of old English music transcribed for the harp by Suzanne Guldiman. I think she mainly sources her songs from lute music. I ran across one of her books by accident early on in my harp journey, and they are still among my favorite. Partly because I like old English music, partly because they are arranged well (interesting, but not overly complicated- and with good fingering), and partly because the typeset is easy to read. I may be overly picky in that regard, but it really makes a difference to me.


There are two ways to go about getting music of a particular genre. If no one has arranged it, you can learn to arrange it yourself. On the other hand, some genres have plenty of music already arranged, and of course that is much easier! For those who enjoy old English music, I would highly reccomend the arrangements by Suzanne Guldimann. I think my very favorite of her books is Hearts of Oak. That book has a song from Twelfth Night by Shakespear, and playing it always brings back memories of seeing an amazing production of the play, and hearing the song there for the first time.




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