The Historical Harp Society of Ireland

26 Jul - 1 Aug 2024

Frequently Asked Questions

If you don't see your question here, do get in touch; we are here to help!

Where and how do I access the online events?

Click on the 'Full Programme' link at the top of the web page to browse the events happening each day. Click on the thumbnail for an event to navigate to that event page, where you will find Zoom login details posted 10 minutes before it begins. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ All live events will be recorded, and will be accessible to All-Access festival ticket holders from early August until December 29, 2023. These recordings will be available on the web page for each event.

What devices or computer equipment do I need to participate in the online festival? Can I use my phone?

You will need a broadband internet connection, speakers or headphones, access to a printer for downloaded materials, and a laptop, desktop, or tablet computer. WE DO NOT RECOMMEND USING YOUR PHONE TO PARTICIPATE IN THE ONLINE FESTIVAL. We will be using Zoom for our live events. Further information to help you get set up for participating in the festival events will be sent after you have registered.

Will the live events be recorded and made available afterwards?

The live events will all be recorded, and will be accessible to 'All-Access' ticket holders from early August until 29th Dec. 2023.

What do the different tickets offer?

All-Access tickets — Take part in all live festival events, 7–12 July 2023, either online or in person. N.B. Optional in-person field trip on 13 July, available for an additional fee. Enjoy five additional months’ access to recordings of all sessions and concerts. Download copious amounts of sheet music and handouts – available in advance – for each session. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Concert tickets — Concert tickets are available on this website, and also at the ticket desk before each concert begins. Tickets bought on this website give in-person access to the concerts at The Parade Tower, Kilkenny Castle. The same tickets also give online access to a video of the concert until August 15th, 2023. N.B. Concerts will not be live-streamed.

I play using modern harp technique and have never used historical techniques. Is that a problem?

No, that is not a problem. We will teach you what historical playing techniques are most helpful in getting the best out of an early Irish harp, and old Irish harp music. If you play a modern harp, you will most likely either have fun diving full-steam into historical playing techniques, or you might pick and choose what you think might be most helpful to you, on your particular instrument.

I don’t play using finger nails. Is that a problem?

No; for most of their history early Irish harps seem to have been played with fingernails but from the seventeenth century there is evidence of the instrument being played with finger tips, so finger-tip players are totally welcome.

I play a nylon-strung lever harp / folk harp / Celtic harp? Is it OK to play that at festival classes and workshops?

Yes — if you are attending the festival online, you will be very welcome to use your harp. If you will be with us on-site in Kilkenny, HHSI rental early Irish harps are available for an additional fee when you purchase your festival ticket.

Will I learn lots of reels, hornpipes and other dance tunes useful for trad. Irish music sessions?

No, you won't. If your main wish is to learn lots of trad. dance tunes, then we might not be the festival for you as we specialise in music that is older than much Irish dance music. If, however, you are interested in where tunes and songs come from, in seeing the form in which they have been preserved, and how to go about turning them back into living, breathing music, then this festival is likely to interest you. In short, we’re best suited to the curious of mind as well as the curious of finger! _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Our forte is equipping you with the skills to find, reconstruct and play the historical repertory of the instrument. This includes plainchant, harp preludes, love songs, praise songs, laments, marches, ports, music composed for patrons, older dances e.g. jigs and minuets, variation sets on Irish melodies, Renaissance-European repertory (ground basses, court dances), and 18th-century European repertory (Italian and Italian-influenced instrumental music, instrumental settings of works by Handel, Corelli, Geminiani and others) played by some Irish harpers.

I play a 22-string lap harp. Is that too small an instrument to use at this festival?

We will be delighted to see you no matter what size your harp! We encourage historically-minded students to play measured copies of surviving instruments as the most fruitful way of approaching the music – the smallest of these has 29 strings – but you can take part in this festival playing any size of harp.

Can I rent a harp at the festival?

HHSI Student harps are available to rent for an additional fee when purchasing an All-Access festival ticket. N.B. A limited number of harps are available, so early booking is recommended.

I've never played a harp before. Is that a problem?

We welcome players at all levels from post-beginner.

I don't read music. Is that a problem?

No. For some sessions, the music is taught aurally with sheet music available at the end for those who read. And, in many cases, sound files will be available in advance to help you. However, in more advanced sessions and workshops, you may get more out of it if you have a working knowledge of how to read music.

What do other people say about this festival?

A selection of quotes from participants is available on the 'About' page of the festival website.

How do I access festival one-to-one coaching?

Click on 'One-to-one Coaching' in the navigation bar, at the top of this page, for all the details. Click on an individual coach to see what their areas of interest are. You can email them or contact them via their websites to arrange dates and times to meet up. Please pay them directly in advance of your coaching session.

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Scoil na gCláirseach is proud to be supported by the Festival Investment Scheme of An Chomhairle Ealaíon / The Arts Council of Ireland.

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