Arranging for Harpsicle or Small Harp
In this video we are going to be learning how I go about rearranging pieces for small harp / harpsicle. I hope this is something helpful. Let’s get started!
To show how I rearrange for small harp, I’ll be using a piece from the book, Simply the Harp; Unforgettable Theatre Treasures (by Angi Bemiss). This book is a favourite of mine to play through at weddings!
We’ll be going through ‘Beauty and the Beast’ (bars 5 – 12) – I’ll speak about how to play bits of the original version for the big harp, and the little techniques I use to play it on the small harp.
The first thing I do when rearranging, is move the left hand (LH) up an octave (we don’t have all the lower notes on the small harp), starting on the bottom Eb of the Harpsicle.
We’ll have some problems crossing over between the LH and RH if we’re not careful. The LH notes sometimes clash with the right, wanting us to play the same note with both hands.
Sometimes we also have the harmony above the RH melody – which sounds a bit funny in this arrangement.
What I do in those cases when crossing over with two hands, is simplify the LH’s melody. I leave out some of the notes, and just play the lower ones.
In the first bar, instead of the LH playing an Eb major arpeggio (with an added F), I just play Eb, Bb, F & back down to Bb. We still have the F in it, but we’re keeping it nice and low so when we add the RH, it’s not crossing over.
For the second bar we’d normally play Eb, F, Bb, back to F, but I go back down to the second Bb, leaving out the second F. For the next two bars I just repeat the LH’s notes I played in the previous two bars.
In the following few bars we can play the LH notes as it’s originally written – still keeping it an octave higher, except for the LH’s last bar of that section where I again play Bb, F and back to Bb. The RH is moving up more so it’s out of the way.
So this is what I do throughout the piece!
So the two main things I do in this kind of piece are:
- Moving the left hand up an octave
- Simplifying the left hand so clashes don’t occur
Once you get your head around what you need to do, it’s not difficult! You’re just simplifying things. When I travel with my harpsicles, it’s really useful to play pieces I’d normally play on the big harp without actually having to learn new repertoire! It’s a useful skill to learn.
If you’re interested in Angi Bemiss’s book, Unforgettable Theatre Treasures or want Sheet Music, you can view her website here. I highly recommend this book!
And join our free community for more tips on adapting arrangements for your small harp. We have a whole forum topic dedicated to it!