There are eight places on the workshop. Tickets cannot be refunded, so please be sure you can attend before booking a ticket.
Traditionally, the old Irish wire strung harp was taught orally. But the living, oral tradition came to an end around two hundred years ago, resulting in the loss of inherited knowledge about how this iconic instrument was played. However, at the end of the eighteenth century, while there were still a few harpers alive who had learned in the living tradition, the young organist and arranger, Edward Bunting, met some of these harpers and collected their tunes, which he later published as piano arrangements. Amongst Edward Bunting's original manuscripts are three tunes which were described as the First Tunes traditionally taught to harpers. In his third publication (1840) Bunting also included some traditionary information from the harpers about their 'method of playing', which Bunting described as 'peculiar' but used by all the harpers he met. He published a table of named fingerings (or playing techniques), each with specific instructions on which finger plays and which finger stops a given string.
I have married together these two core pieces of evidence about the old tradition – the First Tunes and the named fingering techniques – in order to try to reconstruct the lost art of playing the old Irish wire strung harp.
In this beginners' workshop you will have the opportunity to learn to play the First Tune traditionally taught to harpers, Mailí Bhán, collected by Edward Bunting from the Armagh harper, Patrick Quin. Through learning this tune you will learn, from hands-on experience, four important old Irish harp playing techniques: bualadh suas, briseadh, leagadh anuas and leath leagadh. I believe that these are the building blocks for learning to play the old Irish harp in a traditional style.
This workshop is suitable both for beginners and for those who already play the harp but would like to explore 'the method of playing...of the old Irish harpers'.