I have never played a harp. I don’t think I’ve ever even touched a harp, actually. It’s not really the kind of instrument you find lying around in a friend’s basement or an unused corner of a school music room. They’re rather expensive. And big, and presumably heavy though not so heavy that you’d need tow trucks or anything. So not terribly common, basically. Not that I would know where to start, at all, if I did get my hands on one. There are strings, yes, and I play some stringed instruments, but I really don’t think that qualifies me to go anywhere near a harp.
It’s an instrument I would really like to learn how to play one day, but it’s admittedly not on the top of my list. First of all, it’s not really an instrument that you can bring around with you to pubs or jam sessions and play with your friends. I feel it’s more of a stationary instrument, that you’d keep in your living room as much to add to the aesthetic of the room than anything else. And it’s not something you could expect a jamming venue to provide for you. Like if you go to a friend’s place to play some music with your buddies, you can reasonably expect there to be a piano or at least some kind of keyboard there. A harp? Not so much.
And such a huge part of music, for me, is being able to play with other people and share your love of the music with those around you by collaborating. But in the same breath, there is definitely something to be said about the uniqueness of the harp. It has a hauntingly beautiful sound, quite unlike any other instrument. There are many songs where I’ve heard a harp and can’t imagine any other instrument giving the same quality to the music.
My favourite place to hear a harp is in Celtic music, that is, music from Ireland and Scotland. The sounds reminds me of misty moors and old magic, and makes me want to hop on a plane and lose myself up in some heather-covered mountain in the highlands. Music has incredible power to transport you places in your mind, and the harp has a special kind of power for me, dragging me across to the sea to older places.
And it probably helps, too, that everyone I’ve ever seen play the harp looks like they should be playing the harp. You know? So often the people playing the harp are these lovely, willowy, graceful women who look like they are one with the instrument. It’s not only a beautiful instrument to listen to, but also a beautiful instrument to see played, too. In all honesty, I’m not sure I could pull off that kind of elegance playing such a beautiful instrument. Perhaps one day I’ll be given the chance. Until then, I’ll have to settle for appreciating the musicianship of other, far more coordinated people.