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#091: Harp Strings and Heart Strings: A Lesson in Romantic Music

music and meaning Feb 13, 2023

As this podcast is released, it is the day before Valentine’s Day, and whether you celebrate the day in a special way or not, it’s hard to escape the advertisements urging us to buy and send cards, candy and flowers. I think, though, that we harpists have a special role to play, not just on Valentine’s Day, but every day. 

Music, love and romance are inseparable for most of us. We have our special songs that bind us to those we love. There are certain pieces of music that tug at our hearts and move us to barely expressible joy or tears. In the words of virtuoso cellist Pablo Casals,  “Music is the divine way to tell beautiful, poetic things to the heart.”

And what instrument is more appropriate than the harp to be the voice of those beautiful, poetic things? In the Bible, we read how David soothed Saul with his harp music. Folk traditions the world over associate the harp with love. In early  Norse and various Celtic traditions, the harp was a symbol of love, and its strings represented a mystic bridge between heaven and earth by which one could ascend to higher levels of love. The men and women who play the harps in legends from every corner of the world are brave and courageous heroes whose music wins the freedom and the hearts of those they love. 

History aside, I imagine you feel as I do, that the harp is the quintessential instrument of romance. Harp music encompasses a wide variety of styles, certainly, but the beauty of its rippling arpeggios, lush chords and warm, liquid tone are undeniably magical.

Today our conversation is about romantic music. I’ll give you some insights about what music historians mean by the term “Romantic music,” which may not be what you think of as romantic music. We’ll also talk about romantic harp music, the composers who wrote it historically and the romantic-feeling music we love to play, no matter when it was written. I’ll even play a little for you. Plus I’ll share some of the techniques you’ll want to use to make your music more flowing, magical and, well, romantic.

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 and suggestions for future podcast episodes to me at [email protected] 


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