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How to Read Harp Music

Reading music is an essential skill for harpists
hands and harp strings image by Paul Retherford from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>

Music written for the harp is written on the grand staff, which encompasses both treble and bass clefs, and uses a numbering system to indicate which fingers are to be used to play specific notes. Since there is only a small percentage of songs arranged for harp in commercial sheet music, many harp players will use piano scores or simplified versions of popular songs to make their own arrangements. Learning to read music is considered essential by harp players.

Identify the basic elements of any piece of sheet music. These elements apply to harp music as well. Harp music will often be written on the grand staff--a treble and bass clef staff linked together by a vertical line. A music staff consists of five lines and four spaces, each representing a note. There will be one treble clef and one bass clef for music arranged for harp.

Learn the range of the harp. A pedal harp can play the C flat located two ledger lines below the bass clef up to the G sharp located four lines above the treble clef. There are 47 strings on a harp, grouped in pitch classes. The lowest note is C1. The notes following C1 are D1, E1, F1, G1, A1 and B1.

Get familiar with the note names of the music staff. The lines of the treble clef are E-G-B-D-F. The spaces are F-A-C-E. Remember the lines with the phrase, "Every Good Boy Does Fine." The bass clef lines are G-B-D-F-A. The spaces are A-C-E-G. Remember the lines with the phrase, "Good Basses Don't Fall Apart," and the spaces with the phrase, "All Cars Eat Gas."

Read each written notes according to register. If you see the note written on the first ledger line below the bass clef, this note is an E. It is played in the first register, so this is an E1.

About the Author

Carl Hose is the author of the anthology "Dead Horizon" and the the zombie novella "Dead Rising." His work has appeared in "Cold Storage," "Butcher Knives and Body Counts," "Writer's Journal," and "Lighthouse Digest.". He is editor of the "Dark Light" anthology to benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities.