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Kelly K. Stewart

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"You can’t depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus" ~ Mark Twain

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The History of the Harp

This workshop was written with folk harp groups in mind, but is of general enough interest to appeal to anyone inclined towards either music or history. It is presented in an hour to an hour and a half in three main sections.

The beginning of the workshop traces the ancestry of the instrument from the first evidence of the harp in Art in Mesopotamia c 3200 BC. A general overview of the early iconography from the east as well as and references in literature will be provided to demonstrate the changes in the physical form of the harp over the centuries.

The focus (after a brief view of the origins and earliest references) will be the harp in the Celtic Nations. The physical structure of the instrument, repertoire, playing styles, and historical events having a major impact on the tradition will be covered. (Some of these events include the 16th C Welsh laws to regulate the Bardic Schools, the Belfast Harp Festival of 1792, and the production of several manuscripts) This is the main section of the workshop - it can also include the evolution of the chromatic harp and the modern day pedal.

In the final segment, examples will be performed from the important manuscripts of the various traditions so that the inherent differences in style, structure, and harmony can be heard.

***In the spirit of promoting the harp and harpists, I always bring my notebooks on harps and harp makers, discography, repertoire lists, bibliographies, and sources of information with me. Although it is easier now with more internet access, one of the most frustrating aspects of playing the harp in recent years has been the lack of helpful information and sources of new music.

Contact Information

email: tripleharp@gmail.com
phone: 404-395-8133