The Irish Harp Book

by Sheila Larchet Cuthbert (Volume editor)
II, 258 Pages
Series: Carysfort Press Ltd., Volume 798


Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Preface
  • Dedication
  • Foreword
  • The Irish Harp (Diagram etc.)
  • The Instrument - Compass - Strings - Tuning - Blades
  • Placing the Instrument
  • Key-Board, Key change system, Keys
  • Position of hands (diagrams)
  • Action of fingers, thumb
  • Preparing and Placing
  • Exercise I
  • Exercise II
  • Exercise III
  • Studies
  • Pieces: Eibhlín, a Rún
  • Cailín ó Chois tSiúire Mé
  • Caoine Phiarais Feiritéir
  • Independence of “Fingering - Equality of Tone
  • Scale and Arpeggio of E Flat Major
  • Exercises
  • Study No. 1 (M.A.C.)
  • Pieces: Tiarna Mhaigh Eó (David Murphy)
  • The Parting of Friends (arr. C. Milligan Fox)
  • Chord Playing - Articulation
  • Exercises
  • Scale and Arpeggio of B Flat Major and F Major
  • Study No. 2 (M.A.C.)
  • Study No. 3 (M.A.C.)
  • Pieces: The Irish Ho-Hone (The Fitzwilliam Virginal Book)
  • Scarúint na gCompánach (Rory Dall Ó Catháin)
  • Damped Sounds
  • Octaves
  • Gliding
  • Scale and Arpeggio of C Major (2 octaves)
  • Study No. 4 (M.A.C.)
  • Study No. 5 (M.A.C.)
  • Pieces: Miss Hamilton (Cornelius Lyons - arr. Sheila Larchet-Cuthbert)
  • The Gaelic Farmer (From Treasa Ní Chormaic)
  • Harmonics
  • Scale and Arpeggio of G ani D Major
  • Study No. 6 (M.A.C.)
  • Study No. 7 (M.A.C.)
  • Pieces: William O’Flinn (Carolan - arr. Sheila Larchet-Cuthbert)
  • Lament and Hornpipe (arr. Mercedes Bolger)
  • I will leave this country (arr. Mercedes McGrath)
  • David Foy (arr. Mercedes McGrath)
  • Recapitulation
  • Glissando
  • Scale and Arpeggio of A and E Major
  • Study No. 8 (M.A.C.)
  • Study No. 9 (M.A.C.)
  • Study No. 10 (M.A.C.)
  • Pieces: Suite of Four Pieces for Harp Trio (Anne Crowley)
  • Maurice O’Connor (Carolan - arr. Sheila Larchet-Cuthbert) For the Children:
  • (1) Song without words (Edgar M. Deale)
  • (2) Set Dance (Edgar M. Deale)
  • Two Pieces with Harp Accompaniment
  • Relative Minor Scales - C, G and D (Harmonic Form)
  • Arpeggios and Inversions
  • Sixths and Tenths
  • Study No. 11 (M.A.C.)
  • Study No. 12 (M.A.C.)
  • Study No. 13 (M.A.C.)
  • Pieces: An Cóitín Dearg (Aloys Fleischmann)
  • John Kelly (Carolan - arr. Sheila Larchet-Cuthbert)
  • Songs: An Spailpín Fánach (Caroline Townshend a chóirigh)
  • Dilín Ó Deamhas (Máirín Ní Shé a chóirigh)
  • Relative Minor Scales - A and E
  • Arpeggios and Inversions
  • Sixths and Tenths
  • Study No. 14 (M.A.C.)
  • Study No. 15 (M.A.C.)
  • Study No. 16 (M.A.C.)
  • Pieces: Allegro Giocoso (John Kins ella)
  • Farewell to Music (Carolan - arr. Sheila Larchet-Cuthbert)
  • Songs: Máire Ní Eidhin (Róisín Ní Shé a chóirigh)
  • Anonn’s Anali (Gráinne Yeats a chóirigh)
  • Scales in all possible keys, Arpeggios and Inversions, Sixths and Tenths Contrary Motion (One Octave)
  • Study No. 17 (M.A.C.)
  • Study No. 18 (M.A.C.)
  • Study No. 19 (M.A.C.)
  • Pieces: John O’Connor (Carolan - arr. Sheila Larchet-Cuthbert)
  • Interlude (T. C. Kelly)
  • Songs: An Fhallaingín Mhuimhneach (arr. Ruth Mervyn)
  • Grá Mo Chroí Thú, Éire (arr. Nancy Calthorpe)
  • Do Chuala Scéal (Cian Ó hÉigeartaigh a ehóirigh)
  • All Scales as in Ninth Lesson
  • Dominant Seventh Chord and Inversions, Similar Motion
  • Study No. 20 (M.A.C.)
  • Study No. 21 (M.A.C.)
  • Study No. 22 (M.A.C.)
  • Pieces: “Concerto” (Carolan - arr. Sheila Larchet-Cuthbert)
  • Three Pieces (Gerard Victory)
  • Duet (Joan Trimble)
  • Songs: ‘Tis Pretty to be in Ballinderry (arr. Redmond Friel)
  • Píobaire an Mhála (Carl Hardebec a chóirigh)
  • My Lagan Love (arr. Hamilton Harty)
  • All Scales as in Ninth Lesson
  • Dominant Seventh Chord and Inversions, Similar and Contrary Motion
  • Diminished Seventh Chord and Inversions, Similar Motion
  • Study No. 23 (M.A.C.)
  • Study No. 24 (M.A.C.)
  • Study No. 25 (M.A.C.)
  • Pieces: Déirín Dé (Eamonn Ó Gallchobhair a chóirigh)
  • Fantasia (Daniel McNulty)
  • Songs: Little Boats (arr. Herbert Hughes)
  • A Soft Day (C.V. Stanford)
  • Duet: “Spanish Arch” (James Wilson)
  • Complete Scale Programme as in Eleventh Lesson
  • Diminished Seventh Chord and Inversions. Similar and Contrary Motion
  • Study No. 26 (M.A.C.)
  • Study No. 27 (M.A.C.)
  • Pieces: Étude Bitonal (A. J. Potter)
  • Song: The Small Black Rose (arr. John F. Larchet)
  • Duet: Two Sketches (Brian Boydell)
  • (i) Dance for an Ancient Ritual
  • (ii) No. 2 of Four Pieces for Two Irish Harps
  • Scintillae (Seoirse Bodley)
  • Quintet: “A Carolan Tune” (arr. Havelock Nelson) for Harp and String Quartet
  • Maintenance
  • Historical Survey
  • Biography
  • Acknowledgements

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The Instrument

THE COMPASS of the Irish Harp is usually four octaves with one or two additional notes at either end of the range making some 30 strings in all. The ideal compass is from E flat, first line below the bass stave to G, fourth line above the treble stave.

THE STRINGS are of catgut, except the four lowest ones which are of silver wire to render them more sonorous. To assist the eye in finding certain fixed points among so many strings, C’s are coloured red and F’s are green or black. Nylon strings are also in use.

TUNING The Harp is tuned in the Diatonic Scale of E flat major:

Every string can be raised one semitone by turning a Blade (or lever) at the top of the harp. One half turn upwards is sufficient to deflect the string and shorten its length. However, all the blades are in the neutral position (i.e. disengaged) when the harp is in the basic key of E flat major.

To facilitate those who may not be, as yet, acquainted with this key, it is proposed to tune the harp in the more familiar key of C major:

Firstly, engage each Β, E and A Blade with its string, thereby producing Β, E and A natural throughout the entire compass of the harp.

Using a C tuning fork, begin from middle C and set one octave upwards, proving the correctness of the tuned notes with other consonant intervals. The following example shows the usual manner of tuning and proving.

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Having set this octave “in intervals”, it is now possible to tune the other strings “in octaves” from each note of this proven scale:

Because of the fundamental problem inherent in the “Equal-Tempered Scale”, never tune the harp in octaves initially. They may be in tune with each other but the entire instrument will be out of tune.

It is impossible to stress sufficiently the importance of having a well-tuned harp. No playing, however good, can compensate for the omission of this primary necessity.

On the following page it will be seen how the complete range of 13 keys can be achieved by use of the other Blades but it is important to note that the mechanism has only a Single-Action to raise a semitone and cannot lower a string beneath its original pitch. Hence the key-limitation of the Irish Harp.*


II, 258
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2022 (March)
Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, New York, Wien, 2004. II, 258 pp., 255 fig. b/w.

Biographical notes

Sheila Larchet Cuthbert (Volume editor)


Title: The Irish Harp Book
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262 pages