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The following is a set of variations for solo harp on a well-known Celtic tune. "Bonny at Morn", which I want to input as an instrumental prelude to a song cycle of erotic content, so the title in the header has changed accordingly to "Horny at Morn".

What may be termed as "erotic" in some people's morality, may be termed as "pornographic" by other people's moral standards, so it would seem that Catulus is a great erotic poet to some and a degenerate pornographer to others. All this at present is irrelevant and beside the point to me, (god knows I had some trouble in explaining my lyric writing in this forum before, so I will not bother again), but I publish this prelude for critique/advice on the music side of it.

I know next to nothing about harp technique, but I run the plug-in for adding harp pedalling to the whole score and I noticed that it added just one single sign at the beginning. I suppose this is due to the fact that the piece stays diatonically in Em throughout, which I trust is ok, but I am not at all sure whether it is hard, normal, moderate or just unplayable and whether the two part writing involved would work on the instrument.

If anyone notices blunders, omissions, etc and has any suggestions, please fire away.

Thanks for any help.






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Hi Socrates,

Overall, I like this, although I felt it a bit repetitive. It is hard to read the score from the Youtube, if you could attach a PDF, I could be more specific

Thanks for posting!


Hi Socrates,

I found the simplicity very engaging and the expression quite moving. You did well to keep what is in essence two chords  interesting.

As far as pedalling goes, you correctly surmise why there are no issues and no indication is needed because the key signature will tell the harpist all they need to know. To get a sense of how this style of  writing translates to a real harp, have a listen to this........

Thank you all very much for your replies. They help me make a decision of whether to publish it commercially as it is or not.


MM, I trust that since I give both hands groups of four semiquavers at most,  it will not be too hard at this speed. I agree with what you say on pedal change noise. I noticed it occurring in Mike's link above, where a harpist plays some Bach invention requiring such change. Luckily this one seems not in need of pedal change.


Gav, the video window is always too small in Youtube for following scores. I always view them in full screen mode which makes them more clear even when using small type staves. I submitted a PDF score together with the video and it is still there and still viewable so I don’t understand the difficulty you have in viewing it. Maybe a technical matter. While we are at it, I have raised 2-3 times the question of having an open score PDF in submissions viewable  and scrollable, or open in a new window and scrollable by the right side bar. That is how I do it in my personal site "Helicon", where I am using BBCode instead of HTML, but it should not be difficult for HTML to handle it.

This is a screen shot of my text editor and you can see the last choice is a routine called "pdfview" which when used
in the following syntax makes the pdf appear open.

[attachment=0]Variations on a Celtic Air.pdf[/attachment]






and you can check the effect here (scroll to the bottom of the page), once I have finished editing:


I wonder if you could refer this matter to the Ning board (?)


Mike, thanks for the advice, the appreciation and the link. It is as you say basically two chords really (their relatives just for variety) and I was quite scared to leave the diatonic natural E minor scale as I am very new to the harp world, concentrating in this instance on the two part texture only. Well, unless it is impossible to play, I will publish it as is.


Jon, thanks for your comment. No surprise of harmony there as you say. Just two chords. :-)

Olivia has already recorded the first 15'' of it. Subsequently I sent the finished piece to her, but I did not have a reply. I suppose she is terribly busy, but she does all of us a favour and a big honour.

I see, AS=SG, alias Gone, has dropped into this thread, but I cannot see his contribution, i've missed it (Magic!)

Oh well, I'll have to trust in the dark regarding this piece from now on, but at all events I feel thankful to whoever took care of said contribution!

I liked this very much, Socrates, for all the reasons other listed above.  I'm no harp expert, but in many places you have written a figuration where the first note of an arpeggio figure is sustained (indicated with a 2nd downstem voice).  This is common notation in piano writing (where you can hold down the key to sustain the first note), but I don't believe it translates into harp because the harp action is a pluck, not a press.

You might find this article helpful:

And as Em noted, beware repeated notes (you have a few):

Socrates Arvanitakis said:

I see, AS=SG, alias Gone, has dropped into this thread, but I cannot see his contribution, i've missed it (Magic!)

Oh well, I'll have to trust in the dark regarding this piece from now on, but at all events I feel thankful to whoever took care of said contribution!

Thanks John.

Fact is I am still a little confused about performing and notational matters for this instrument.

The repeated notes are an issue indeed but I can only hope they will be alright for this piece.

The notational issue is clearer to me: I think that there are in force harp notational conventions as there are for other plucked string instruments. The crotchet/semiquaver combination that I use on the same beat with up and down stems is a guitar convention which holds true in real sound results and although Olivia advised me to avoid this kind of notation, unless I see a practical/real reason for it I will not change my usage. Because if, let's say, a B is stricken in the bass followed by a D in semiquaver time distance the B still holds its sound, does it not?


I give an example by the following two screen shots. The first is bar 30 of this piece. The second is how I would notate the bass clef for guitar. The bass is sustaining exactly for its correct duration if I follow the fingering/positioning that I give in the tablature. The technical question for me is whether the harpist can dampen the first B crotchet when he pays the 2nd E crotchet and then dampen again this E when he plays the 3rd B crotchet. On the guitar it is possible but is it on the harp?

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