Harpa maintenance and ergonomics

Monday and Tuesday we worked with Olov. In the mornings we played a fair amount, but also we focused on ways to make our playing and practicing more comfortable and effective. We learned bow exercises and stretches, we talked about different ways to sit and different kinds of harpa straps, and about temperaments and string options and different kinds of bows. Each day we practiced playing the same simple tune in a variety of keys and a couple of different octaves.

In the afternoons, we had an instrument maintenance/repair clinic, which was really interesting. Olov worked on each instrument in turn, so as each new condition came up, we learned some tactics for addressing it. Everyone’s tangents (the piece of the key that touches the string) needed some tuning, but he also changed string placement at the bridge or at the nut (to solve different issues), lowered sympathetic strings at the bridge, removed key-springs, moved bridges and soundposts, and even carved a replacement tangent. My instrument now has its bridge un-leaned by 2mm, tangents tuned, top C string shifted at the bridge, and replacements for the 6 bottom sympathetic strings — though it still needs attention from its maker to replace the top 3 tangents and move the top 3 sympathetics over a little at the bridge. It sure sounds pleased with its tune-up!

On Tuesday between fika and lunch, we joined the dance class to play them our new schottis, and we danced some and they sang some, and we tried out various ways to play the same tune with a dotted swingy flavor (each beat subdivided into triplets) or straighter (duple).  My candidate for trickiest exercise: walk on the off-beats (2 and 4) while playing a schottis.

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