This blog is one of a series. Each includes one of the students’ final projects from my online course “Hip Harp Toolkit,” along with  their answers to five questions I asked them to answer. You can some tech pb might have interfered with the underlying rhythmic line, and took me A LOT of time to put all that on youtube. I hope you could see it and give me a feedback!!

It has not much to do with St Patrick’s day, but it could be easily listened while drinking some good Irish beer!!

Project Name: “BASSE CONTINUE” (= continuous bass=ostinato)

It is a 3 part medley that has only the first part linked to Celtic roots:

I took Maeve Gilchrist’s “Ostinato Project N°7” that I “decryted” by ear (meaning I don’t have the music sheet) and transformed it a little in a Kora/Malian music style on the RH keeping an “ostinato” on the bass. The common point between the 3 parts is the continuous bass.

The second theme is “Riders on the storm” by The Doors, I think it is in F Dorian mode (if I understood Marta’s lesson) anyway the harp is in the key of C M, I did a little medley of the “song ” itself inside the medley (tiny tribute+ eternal gratitude to the late Ray Manzarek – who disappeared last year – for his Music).

The last one is a “nervous” piece: Ghost Rider from Alan Vega, originally a song, closer to what I like to play with virtual effects (digital) and here with one real gear on the harp! Rock & Roll !!!! 😉

QUESTION:  What did it take – both logistically and emotionally – for you to complete and share this?  

For me it is still a great challenge to face myself playing on a video, emotionally it feels like playing before an audience! I am not really comfortable wth that yet, but I feel it makes me progress because I can see what to keep and what to modify!

Logistically it is a real challenge for me to manage all by myself: the filming and the playing and the rythmic line start and the pedalboard!! Question of timing! Mastering is also still a problem for me regarding youtube sound depiction: the sound quality result is much better on my computer ( with a good sound card) with basic loudspeekers from my hi-fi system even after imovie compression, especially for the low frequencies and medium that sound really skinny, and high frequencies to agressive when compressed on youtube. It´s getting a bit geeky here?! If somebody has a clue…

QUESTION: What freedoms and blocks inyourself did you connect with (or struggle with) in the process?

This set of lessons gave me more freedom for developing my “sound,” by going through the process of lessons I didn’t really feel like playing Celtic because it is not my background and not what I want to play now, but Deborah and Marta rich and different approaches led me to some more “abstract” trials, a form of personal “sound research” that is closer to me. I cannot explain the reason for that though…

It also showed me that I need to work more with a rhythmic support (metronome or else), thing that in classical music is not always necessary needed all the time because of varying tempi and rubato playing style. I then work with permanent rhythmic support and it s both more difficult at first and then really fun!

QUESTION: What challenges did you meet to connect with your own freedom of expression in this project?

If I had to really express something personal here, and that I hesitated to submit, I would have done an abstract piece with loops not linked at all with the 5 part structure and transitions (that I didnt really followed here by the way), but I thought it was irrelevant here (not really doable on video as my looper is virtual and cannot be played live for now), and I also realized that I didn’t have enough time and practice to do a good enough arrangement of Celtic tunes in a way I like, so I met halfway by arranging tunes I just caught/played recently in a limited time, and I really enjoyed doing that!! I felt free and I also did the medley homework!

QUESTION: What were your personal “Ahas”?

I find myself playing WITHOUT music sheets at all and my small notes for remembering things I play look more like a sketch with “big letters,” arrows and rhythmic patterns etc. than music notes.

I found out how to ” take notes” in music!! And I can write notes down later on seriously (on the scale) if needed.

QUESTION:  Is there anything else you’d like to tell people who are watching your video?

Yes: it is a good example of UNPERFECT COMPLETION. 😉


DHC says:  

I love that this is like an abstract of the project (a 3-part medley with transitions and some sort of cadenza) and I really love your combination of electronics and harp – and it also sounded like you modulated the sound of the harp sometimes – which was also great – and made me want to see what you were doing with your feet!

I also think that, for this piece it was great that we see you head-on and never really get to ‘see’ what the harp looks like – and I also just loved the way it looks and the whole idea of what you’re creating with this combination! I really loved this!

I also love seeing its metamorphosis, from one imperfect completion to another, each time getting richer and stronger and clearer!


What was this project all about?  What were the Guidelines?  The project description was to take 3 contrasting tunes and create a medley no more than 3.5 minutes using techniques from the course, like introductions, melodic improvising, embellishing, turnaround endings and modulating from key to key. (If you’re not a musician, you’ll know when they’re modulating when you see them reach up to shift the levers, which change the harp into a new key).

One of the core principles of the course is “Imperfect Completion” so each of the “Final Projects” is really a “Beginning Project.”


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