If I had to choose one finger pattern that I could count on to almost always show up in a piece, it would be an arpeggio. Arpeggios and the harp go together like peanut butter and jelly. In fact, the Italian word for harp is arpa, which has the same first three letters as arpeggio. That’s because the word arpeggio comes from the Italian word arpeggiare, which means to play on a harp. See what I mean? Peanut butter and jelly.
Whether the arpeggios show up as full sweeps of sound over the entire range of the harp or simply a left hand accompaniment pattern or anything in between, arpeggios are everywhere in harp music, so it’s essential to learn to play them well.
The first time a student comes across an arpeggio, they are shown how an arpeggio is really a chord in which all the notes are played one after the other instead of simultaneously. They are taught the rules of placing for arpeggios and given exercises to learn to read them quickly and play them fluidly. But often, when the arpeggios get faster or more complex, those basic skills are not enough.
We don’t simply want to play them cleanly; we want them to sound even and clear.
We don’t want to play them only at exercise speed; we need to be able to control the fingers over the full range of tempo possibilities.
We don’t want them to sound clunky or plunky; we want them to be beautiful arching gestures.
In short, we want them to ripple.
So today, we will talk about the finer points of arpeggios. Naturally we will go over all the basics of placing and playing, but we’ll dive deeper into how to shape your arpeggios, have them sound relaxed and flowing, and yes, to make them ripple.
Links to things I think you might be interested in that were mentioned in the podcast episode:
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