Harp Notation Basics

One of the most useful, and yet least understood, instruments in your orchestral colors is the modern harp. As a composer (or orchestrator working for a composer) remember my dictum to do all in your power to help your players shoot for a perfect read-through? Along those lines, you owe it to yourself or your client to learn at least the basics of the notation which will get you through most situations without time-wasting questions.

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  • May 6, 2009 @ 3:21 pm

    This was very helpful to me. I’m looking for pedal settings for all the different glissandi and effects that a harp can do. If you know of or have any information that can help me find these diagrams please let me know asap. I have a piece I have to possibly write a Pop arrangement for 3 harps (one Professional and 2 students) and a full orchestra. I’m a keyboard player , but I don’t have a clue about harp playing or it’s language and pedal settings.
    It’s the biggest account I will have to date and I am terrified, so I’m doing as much research as I can to get ready.


    Mike Clark

  • Susannna
    March 16, 2010 @ 4:35 am

    Very helpful, especially for the text font hit. Thanks!

  • Susannna
    March 16, 2010 @ 4:37 am

    I meant “hint”, btw ;0)

  • Martin Moore
    April 21, 2010 @ 2:47 pm

    Have written for brass bands, choirs, orchestras but have never had to write for harp before. Thanks for your help

  • Wally
    December 2, 2010 @ 9:22 am

    Example 3 shows ways of indicating pedal changes (I think “F” should be “G”, but the right hand is very difficult to play. Harpists only use four fingers – no pinky. Depending on the tempo, s/he will have to jump up and play at least one of those quintuplet sixteenths with the left hand.

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