I asked former organizer Cindy Weaver Schaufenbuel to give us the title of her favorite music book that also included Scottish tunes that could be played for the competition. She recommended two! That is why this is the second of a two-part article. Her second selection is “Coupled Hands for Harpers” by Ann Heymann.
When asked why she liked these books over others in her collection, she replied that both of her selections “are ground-breaking books by players who are also dedicated researchers of Scottish harp music, as opposed to Scottish music that can be played on the harp, but isn’t idiomatic to it. I have many books with wonderful arrangements of Scottish music by harpers who would no doubt also say that they were influenced by one or both of these books.”
Cindy continues, “Ann’s book is a tutor that teaches an entirely different way of playing from the way most players learn, so while it begins with easy tunes with shared-hands melodies, whether or not an individual player considers it to be an easy technique to learn is probably down to the individual. In general, though, it has a range of tunes from easy to upper intermediate.”
Her favorite tune in “Coupled Hands for Harpers”? “Fuath Nam Fidhleirean (Contempt for Fiddlers)”.
You can sample and purchase Cindy’s favorite song, performed on a harp at the Amazon link at right. Please enjoy this lovely interpretation of “Fuath Nam Fidhleirean” by Alison Kinnaird.
Price is subject to change, but it is currently listed at $40. Full disclosure, Music Makers is a sponsor of ours; by clicking on this purchase button and buying the book from them, you will be helping support MnSHW.Purchase This Book
According to the description on the back of the book, Coupled Hands for Harpers details a different approach to playing the harp. Most harpists emulate the keyboard philosophy of a “melody” hand and an “accompanying” hand, while Coupled Hands calls for a use of both hands to express the melody: the bass hand thumb talking the stressed melody notes and the treble hand sounding all the others. Most of the time the stressed notes taken by the bass hand thumb are simultaneously reinforced by the bass hand middle finger sounding an octave or other interval below. “This practice idiomatically emphasizes the stressed notes while allowing the treble hand time to deal with subtleties of expression such as gracings, ornamentation and variation.
Ann Heymann introduces her Coupled Hands approach gradually and progressively, beginning with a rhythmic use of the hands before discussing fingering. A simple notation had been developed that presents all necessary information without complexity or confusion.
This approach, while aimed particularly at harpers with wire-strung and lap-sized instruments, may be successfully implemented on any harp. This book includes:
- Over 80 arrangements for playing levels from experienced novice to advanced
- Music from Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Brittany, Galicia, Asturias, Cornwall, Cape Breton, France and Italy
- All necessary playing techniques with photo illustrations
- Developmental exercises
- Practice tips
- A notation index
- An index of tune names
- Background and historical information about the pieces
- An essay detailing the historical basis for this approach.
Recommend Another Book to Us!
If you have other books that include Scottish tunes that you love, please leave the title in the comments below or email us using our handy book recommender.
Register for the Competition
I hope you’ve been inspired to learn a new Scottish tune. Won’t you consider playing it for us at next year’s competition? Learn more about the competition and register today! Hope to see you there!Learn More About the Competition
Image Source: Casey Marshall