A harp does more than produce pretty sound. It has a historical ability to shift awareness, to create a sense of soul change. It's been claimed to heal and manifest. Most often it is seen as the loner of musical instruments, one of those rare travelers on the muse's path that wants to do its work and be appreciated alone. However, upon my first hearing the incredible Belfast Harp Orchestra, a mammoth ensemble of dozens of harps, I heard a different sound. One that became more than the sum of it's parts. One that carried, as Nietzsche put it, a "shimmering, sweet infinity", a sound all of its own and white hot with spirit power and sense of the arcane.
On this model, I experimented with the simple and ringing clarity of the folk lever harp in various multiples from a dozen, to as few as two. While the duo provided a pleasant chorusing of its familiar tones, when I used three, something unique and wonderful happened. It was as if I'd hit the "Golden Mean" for orchestrated harp music, an amalgam sound which created that wonderous, ancient and cavernous choir of strings I got from the Belfast Harp Orchestra, without all of the instruments necessary. The Power of Three was very real, and obviously working in a careful crafting of music for three harps. The unison strings were thick and sonorous in their melodic proclamations, and the sectioning off for bass, chords and arpeggios created an amazing wash of vibrant and compelling sound the likes of which I had never before heard.
Purists and traditionalists may not agree, but it was through the trio that I believe I finally understood the native language of the harp after all these years of playing and writing for the instrument. To my ears, it is the music of history, of mystery and of promise. It is a choir of strings, the Crann Nan Teud ("Tree of Strings") as the Gaels called it, that sings to all corners of the earth.
released May 2, 2015
Original works by Irminsul. All arrangements for harp trio by Irminsul. All harps performed by Irminsul.
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