celtic harp

About Harp semitone levers

Why have levers? There are many opinions about levers on harps. A lot of people like levers so they can quickly change key between tunes

About Harp Levers

 

There are many opinions about levers on harps. A lot of people like levers so they can quickly change key between tunes . Levers should not make a harp more difficult to play if the harp is well designed. They are better suited to higher tension harps with medium to wide spacing. EG  Most Celtic style harps

Levers on C and F are a popular choice for those who do not want too many levers on their harp.
C and F levers allow you to quickly change between the keys of C, G and D  which are common keys for Celtic music.

 

Small Para-Celtic harp with levers on 3 strings per octave. C F and B

This allows easy changing between the keys of F, C, G and D

 

Paraguayan harps traditionally never had levers as most tunes have been played in one key commonly F or C. Paraguayan harp players often wear rings on their hands to make accidental notes eg. F#  during a tune. Some Paraguayan harps have little wooden pegs on the string bar to push the string against to  temporarily sharpen the note. Most Paraguayans and other Latin harp players have a different attitude to music to us impatient westerners. They do not need to change key so much and often have guitars and singers playing with them to carry accidental notes. Also there is rarely any problem waiting for the harp to be retuned.

Recently western makers pf Paraguayan harps have been putting levers on Paraguayan harps, but there is a disadvantage. The brilliant  warm sound unique to the Paraguayan harp, relies on a very light weight harp. Levers add weight and also suck sound out of the strings when they are  in use.

In the end it is personal taste. I have played without levers for over 20 years.

If you play solo you may not need them, if you play Celtic music with other musicians you WILL need them because they change key all the time and will become impatient with you if you have to manually re-tune your harp between songs!!

 Hope this helps

Robert

 

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