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Come & Try Wire-Strung Clarsach with Karen Marshalsay

Some wire notation conventions - stems going up are played with the treble hand (some players play the wire harp on
their left shoulder with left hand on the treble in the more historical fashion) and those going down with the bass
hand. X noteheads tell you to damp that note by placing a finger on - which finger is given in brackets. The damping
happens at the same time as the note is played, it's just written a little to the right of the note for clarity.
Wire harps need to be damped, or the resonance will become
overpowering and the sound rather muddy. Use both hands for
3 2(3) 1(2)
the C major scale - first damp each note as you play the next one 4
(legato damping). Now just damp out anything that is NOT in a
C chord - so return your fingers to D, F, A & B as you play the next
(1)
note. The chord of C is now ringing out. This is selective damping.
3 2(3) 1
4

OBAIR LATHA - a learning tune by Karen Marshalsay


T.H. (top or treble hand) 2 2 2 3 2 3
4(3) 4(3) 3 1
6
8
1
4 or 3
B.H.(bass or bottom hand)
1 1
1 1 2
2 2 2 2 2

4 1
or 3

Let's learn a wire technique - the thumb choke!


2 3(1) TC
This technique plays two adjacent strings, damping the top one as the lower one
is played. Place fingers 2 and 3 on the strings, play 2, then play 3 and use the thumb
to damp the string that 2 played at the same time that 3 is playing the lower string.
Only one note should be heard at a time. This is great for decoration, as shown in the example here, but is also
useful for playing two tune notes. It can be used by either hand. The TC box means use a thumb choke to play
these notes, and keeps the music less cluttered.
Now try it out on a tune - this is the 3rd variation to my teaching tune, The Owls of Alnwick Castle
from my book First Steps, An Introduction to Playing the Wire-Strung Clarsach
Place your bass hand on CDEF with 4321 - the thumb is 1 and doesn't play but this helps to anchor your fingers on
the strings. Replace each finger on its string as the next one plays.
Your treble hand plays thumb chokes using an A to decorate the main G note.

TC TC TC TC TC TC
2 3(1)
4
4
2 3 2 2 3 2
4 4
TC TC TC TC TC TC TC

2 3 2 2 3
4 4 4

www.karenmarshalsay.com Edinburgh International Harp Festival 2017