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#062: Your Guide to Perfect Octaves

music and meaning Jul 25, 2022

Octaves are everywhere. There are very few harp pieces that don’t include octaves somewhere, and with good reason. Octaves add richness to a left hand accompaniment or to a right hand melody. The added resonance of the string played an octave lower or higher makes the entire harp come alive with sound. 

We harpists love octaves and we play them all the time. So why are they often the hardest intervals to play well? 

You know what I mean. Your thumb plays two strings at once, or your fourth finger brushes the surrounding strings, making your octave sound like a cluster of sound rather than a clear, clean interval. Sometimes they are hard to place accurately and our fingers buzz or just play the wrong notes. 

It’s time to go back to basics, my friends. Don’t feel discouraged; this is what we all do from time to time when a fundamental part of our technique isn’t working. It’s not a failure. It’s merely a coordination we need to refresh. Often giving our fingers a gentle reminder of the proper technique is all we need to fix the problem. 

Of course this raises some questions. What exactly is the proper technique for octaves? Is it the same for right hand and left hand? What are the best practice strategies for octaves ? How can I be more consistently accurate with my placing? 

I’ve struggled with those questions myself over my years of harp playing and I do have some valuable insights to share, including the one tip that all by itself will help your octaves sound 100% better almost immediately.

So if that one tip works so well, why have I devoted an entire podcast episode to octaves? Because there are some other key things you will want to understand about octaves. Octaves are too important to just skip the finer points; you’ll want to know those too.

Links to things I think you might be interested in that were mentioned in the podcast episode: 

Get involved in the show! Send your questions for future podcast episodes to me at [email protected] 


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