Archive for the ‘Harp Thoughts’ Category

Snow day

I’m rather snowed in this week, so in the meantime, here’s a lovely harp poem a friend of mine sent me.

Harp of Cnoc I’Chosgair, you who bring sleep
to eyes long sleepless;
sweet subtle, plangent, glad, cooling grave.
Excellent instrument with smooth gentle curve,
trilling under red fingers,
musician that has charmed us,
red, lion-like of full melody.

You who lure the bird from the flock,
you who refresh the mind,
brown spotted one of sweet words,
ardent, wondrous, passionate.
You who heal every wounded warrior,
joy and allurement to women,
familiar guide over the dark blue water,
mystic sweet sounding music.

You who silence every instrument of music,
yourself a sweet plaintive instrument,
dweller among the Race of Conn,
instrument yellow-brown and firm.
The one darling of sages,
restless, smooth, sweet of tune,
crimson star above the Fairy Hills,
breast jewel of High Kings.

Sweet tender flowers, brown harp of Diarmaid,
shape not unloved by hosts, voice of cuckoos in May!
I have not heard music ever such as your frame makes
since the time of the Fairy People,
fair brown many coloured bough,
gentle, powerful, glorious.

Sound of the calm wave on the beach,
pure shadowing tree of pure music,
carousals are drunk in your company,
voice of the swan over shining streams.
Cry of the Fairy Women from the Fairy Hill of Ler,
no melody can match you,
every house is sweet stringed through your guidance,
you the pinnacle of harp music.

– Gofraidh Fion O Dalaigh. 1385]


Sweet Dreams

Oftentimes I play for people who appear to be asleep. Maybe they are, and maybe they aren’t, but in any case their eyes are closed and they’re lying down. I know that such a person still receives the music. Their brains process it in some manner though they may not be aware of it like a wakeful person. I’ve often wondered, though, if they feel noticeably different when they wake up. Maybe it’s something barely perceptible that they don’t even really notice because they can’t pinpoint the sensation. If I were ever to create a study, it would be about live harp music during sleep. I like to think I’m sending them sweet dreams, but on a measurable scale, I wonder what I’m *actually doing.

Studies have been done regarding the effects of music on a person’s blood pressure, oxygen saturation, anxiety level, etc (and at some point I promise I’ll attach them to this site), but I wonder if wakeful perception has anything to do with it, i.e. would the effects be similar if the person were asleep? Perhaps, if it hasn’t already been done, I will suggest this for the group research proposal assignment when I take the research course for BSH.


It ain’t over til it’s over

This classic Yogi Berra-ism comes to mind after hearing a special story yesterday. I had a gig playing for the closing of a hospice wing in a hospital. They’re transferring, so it’s not over, but they were there for a long time, so it was still a sad occasion. But that’s just the context. After the ceremony, a man came up to me, complimented my music, asked about my last name, and kind of out of the blue launched into a story about his wife. He said he had been helping her dress when she fell out of the chair and broke her arm. After they discharged her from the hospital, he realized he couldn’t take care of her himself and had to take her back. He talked about how the trauma of the broken arm shocked the rest of her 94-year-old body and she wasn’t doing very well. Then he said he didn’t know how to grieve. He told me he had been brought up in an orphanage, so for his whole life he’d never let anyone get close to him. He had never really grieved before. Until now for his wife. Then he started to get visibly upset and said “See? I’m getting broken up right now. I think I’ll go. Byebye.”

I was a little shocked and confused because this seemed to come from nowhere. It turned out he had been telling everyone his story. This is how he’s been dealing with his grief. He says he doesn’t know how, so he just tells everyone he can about it to let it out. Later on I heard others talking about it, and to make the story even more amazing, it turns out they had gotten married 10 years ago, both for the first time. He was 70 and she was 84! She held the door open for him and it was love at first sight. It’s enough to make you get a bit misty. The women I was with and I certainly did.

This reminded me of a story of one of my BSH classmates who hadn’t played an instrument before, picked up the harp at 73, and at 76 was becoming a certified harp therapist. I may have gotten the numbers wrong. It may have been 76 and 79. The point is she is well up there in years and still learning new and fantastic things.

It just goes to show you, life really does go on and keeps happening. Some times are harder than others, but really, it ain’t over til it’s over.


What is that called?

I never know how to answer this question. The first thing that comes to mind is what song I’m playing, but most of the time, the person says “No the instrument.” Of course, the few times I first reply “It’s a harp,” they roll their eyes as if I were insulting their intelligence. ‘Of course it’s a harp.’ But goodness! 9 times out of 10 they really are asking what instrument it is! Granted, most people haven’t seen one so small, so they aren’t sure if maybe it has a different name, like the violin vs. the cello or some such.

And a little anecdote from last week:

I had this shocking experience with a woman in a nursing home. She was sitting in a hallway staring out the window. I came up beside her to play for her and she looked at me as if she were frightened. She grabbed my arm, and when she felt that I was really there she opened her mouth and started crying. She cried the whole time I played for her, but it took her some time to let go. She never said anything, but I’ve heard of some people honestly believing we’re angels, which would be understandably frightening to someone still living. Sometimes people jokingly say “Oh look, an angel,” and I laugh a little, but sometimes I get a little nervous because I know there really are some who believe.