Notation Manual - Introduction

Notation Manual intro

This Notation Manual is a lexicon of effects and playing techniques, focusing on contemporary music. The lexicon gives examples of notation for the various techniques, and explains their sound and production with audio and video clips. In the different entries various aspects of each technique will be explained in the following order: production, sound, notation, range and additional remarks.

The organization of the entries is based on the book Writing for the Pedal Harp by Ruth K. Inglefield and Lou Anne Neill, published in the second edition in 2006. This manual, originally published in 1985, gives a clear overview of harp notation and effects. However, the bibliography from the original edition has not been expanded and thus the consulted repertoire and literature is all written before 1985. Therefore, in compiling my lexicon, I have taken a closer look at music for the harp written after 1985. 

I focus on chamber and ensemble pieces that were written by composers that are not harpists themselves but who have used the harp extensively in their compositions, such as Toru Takemitsu, Pierre Boulez, Helmut Lachenman, George Crumb and others. The consulted solo repertoire, however, includes Berio's Sequenza II from 1962 and all major solo compositions written for the harp since then. Furthermore intensive cooperation with young composers and composition professors has contributed greatly to the compilation of this lexicon. During the last 10 years I have performed, studied and edited numerous new compositions and worked with composers to find comprehensive ways for notating new effects.

With this experience and by looking at pieces from different major composers I intend to establish a synchronized system for notating harp music.  My goal is to create a lexicon that is unambiguous, concise and practical and offers obvious solutions to notation problems,  both "old and new".