Catapulting into Classical

A headlong leap into music, history, and composing

Haiku Wednesday: Microcomposing—15 Second Harp

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Painting of angel with harp

Microcomposing:
Haiku, Quartweet, and now the
15 Second Harp

Harps look complicated.

And that is even before you find out there are seven pedals in the back to raise and lower the pitch of the notes.

Writing for the harp seems complicated.  How do you know it will work, that is, be playable, if you don’t play the harp yourself?

Harpist Olivia Jageurs has come up with a solution.

Jageurs has set up a website called 15secondharp.com.  She also posed a challenge:  she would create a video of any notated harp music that anyone composed and submitted, and post the video the next day.  However, the music can only be 15 seconds long (Instagram limit).

This is brilliant!  You can see the submissions on the website, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.  Jageurs comments on the submissions, explaining what works well, which components might cause difficulties, and why.

It has been so successful, she has had to limit the number of recordings that would be produced per day, but all submissions in the queue will be recorded.

Add this to the quartweet (the 140-note string quartet) as an achievable and accessible way to encourage composing.

Ready to try but need to know how a harp works?  Jageurs has also posted brief videos on the range of the harp, how the pedals work, and how chords and glissandi are played.  Useful articles on composing for the harp may also be found here, here, and here.

If you submit a harp composition, let us know!  I’m sure everyone would love to hear it.

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