Tag Archives: buzzing

Stop Harp Buzzing

Buzzing is the bane of many a beginning harper. It’s especially hard to play “note-y” chords in the bass, because those strings, whether wire or wrapped nylon, vibrate in wider patterns. You can see them moving for a long time. So what is a harper to do to stop harp buzzing?

First, check for hand position. Notice if you’re catching that vibrating string with a fingernail. If so, change the angle of your fingers so that you will avoid the nail. Usually, students are placing from above, or sideways, making it all but impossible to avoid buzzing. The answer is to place from below. Keep your fingers down after they close open your hand right to the notes and replace them without “breaking the plane” with the top of your hand, and a lot of buzzing will disappear.

Another way to think of it is this: are your fingers closing and opening below your knuckles? Or are you allowing your hand to twist or pull out of it’s good harp hand position?  If you buzz, stop immediately and figure out which finger is hitting which string at which point as you place, and adjust that finger’s position.

The second thing to check is timing. Often, buzzing happens because you’re over-anticipating when you place. Yes, you want to place in advance, but at exactly the right time. Place just before you’ll play, and with deliberateness. Hesitation will always create buzzing, as will sloppy placing of a group of notes as less than a unit.

Finally, play the passage very slowly, changing your hand position ever so slightly until the sound is clean. Now do it again, and if it’s still clean, figure out just what you did to get that sound. Remember, you are ultimately the only one who can determine what fine adjustments in your finger angle or approach will allow you to “land” the notes without buzzing.

Once you know what to do, practice it until you do it automatically. You will get it, I promise.

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This post is adapted from material that I originally published in the ezine, Notes from the Harp.

Quick Fixes for Harp Technique Issues

This post covers three fixes for harp technique issues.  These are three of the most common issues that harp students have, once they’ve started to master the very basics of hand position.

Trouble crossing over/under: Make sure your fingers are low and your thumb is high–usually its the REplacing that’s the problem and we gradually creep away from the ideal location. Another tip: when you get to the cross, squeeze apart the strings to give yourself more leverage.

Trouble making lever changes smoothly: Practice flipping the lever in one exact spot every time, counting it just as you do a note. Follow the string up to the correct lever with your eyes or finger. If it’s still hard to flip in time, look for another spot to make the change (earlier, later, or not at all).

Trouble with buzzing: Buzzing is caused by imprecise timing and/or hand position issues. Make sure that you are not replacing early, but just in time. Check that there is no extra motion in your replacing; your fingers should place from below (not sideways or from above). Likewise, your thumb should place from above.

Often, buzzing happens because we’re opening and placing out of order–getting to the strings before our hand is in the correct position. Use these hints to diagnose the problem and correct it on the spot–never keep ignoring buzzes, or you will train your hands in the habits that cause the buzzing in the first place.

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This post is adapted from material that I originally published in the ezine, Notes from the Harp.