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1410Re:: Who uses sister strings (na comhluighe) in tuning their harp and...

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  • clarsa1r
    Feb 5, 2015
      Bunting drew a staff in his field notes (now known as MS 29) and published it in his 1840 introduction to the third volume of his Ancient Irish Music, giving the pitches of Hempson's harp strings as positioned on the staff.

      Why would there be any doubt, then, that na comhluighe would be tuned to the Gs below middle C? Taking into account, of course, that our modern G strings might be tuned to a slightly different frequency than that common at Bunting's time? I really can't believe that the organ at St. Ann's would have been tuned to pitches radically different than other organs of its time: why would it be? Singers/choirs still had to produce the notes as written while singing with the organ. The physiognomy of the human vocal apparatus, and the resulting limitations in the tones it can produce, has not changed substantially in the past 200 years. 

      But let's say you're right and we can't make any assumptions about what specific frequency Bunting thought of as "G." What suggestions do you have about how a modern player should go about deciding what strings on his/her own harp to designate as na comhluighe? 

      By the way, when I speak of "bass and treble realms" of the harp, I am speaking of them on my own particular harp, as I think of them myself, and with practical consideration for the decisions I make about my own hand placement. Nothing more esoteric than that.  

      Cindy S in Austin, TX


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