Already a My Harp Mastery member or purchased a course? Click here to access your library!

#154: 3 Bach Pieces Every Harpist Should Know and Why

music and meaning Apr 29, 2024

Johann Sebastian Bach is a name every musician knows. He is revered as a composer whose music defined musical practices in the Baroque era and whose compositions still influence music and musicians today. Learning about his music and learning to play his music is required study for any music major.

But we harpists do feel a little neglected. We play one of the instruments that Bach did not write any music for. Of course, that doesn’t stop us from borrowing extensively from his keyboard music, his violin and cello sonatas and partitas and his lute music. Much of Bach’s music is well-suited to the harp with rippling scale passages or rich chords. 

My first in-depth encounters with Bach’s music were in my piano lessons when I was about 12 years old. My teacher was insistent about how the preludes and inventions I was studying should be played: how long each note should be, how the music was made up of melodies played together, or how the harmonies moved in progression. It was my first exposure to the real building blocks of music, besides simple key signatures and chords. Somehow Bach’s music seemed to define and explain much of the rest of the music I encountered.

In my studies in college, at The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, I learned much more about the inner workings of Bach’s compositions and the lasting impact it has had, not just in terms of the wealth of beautiful music he wrote, but also in the effects his music had on every composer since his time.

What I want to share with you today is not simply how learning more about Bach will make you a better harpist and all-around musician, but specifically how three familiar pieces by Bach can work together to help you improve your finger agility and evenness, your chords, your melodic flow, and your understanding of a couple of key musical concepts.  You probably already know and play at least one of these pieces, and possibly all three. What I want you to come away with today is a new understanding of how these pieces are constructed and how to use this information to become an even better harpist.

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]


We love spoiling Harp Mastery® subscribers!

We will keep you posted on brand new webinars,
blog posts, courses and special opportunities.
You can unsubscribe at any time.