I have made several segments from my DVD, Harp Care with Steve Moss, available for free as YouTube videos. These two together make up the harp tuning segment. I demonstrate the mechanics of tuning lever harps in both the Key of C Major and the key of Eb Major, as well as tuning a pedal harp in the flat position to Cb Major. If you’re struggling with the task of tuning your harp, these are the videos for you.
Here’s a helpful segment on learning to tune your harp by ear. We shot it inclusion in my DVD, Harp Care with Steve Moss, but it didn’t end up fitting on the final edit, so I’ve made it available on YouTube.
Being able to tune your harp at least partly by ear is a good skill to develop if you haven’t done so already. In certain instances, your electronic tuner won’t be much help in tuning your harp. At the extreme high and low registers of a large concert harp, the tuner doesn’t reliably register the notes you’re tuning, and it can be nearly impossible to tune these strings by tuner alone. Also, once you’ve had some practice at it, touching up a string or two by ear is a lot faster than getting out and switching on your tuner every time something doesn’t sound right.
You do not need to have perfect pitch to tune by ear. You will always start with some kind of reference note. In this video, I focus on tuning one string by comparing it to one an octave above it. In other instances, you might ask another musician in in the orchestra or practice room to give you a note to match your harp to. You can also play a note on the piano if one is handy.
The ability to tune by ear is the mark of a true musician. It is an excellent way to train your ear. With practice, you’ll be able to tell if something is amiss with your harp’s tuning and touch it up without the hassle of resorting to a tuner.
For the past seven months or more, I’ve been at work on a DVD that answers all of the most common harp-related questions people ask me, like “how do I replace a harp string?” or “what’s the best way to load my harp in the car?”
I’m proud to say that the project is complete and Harp Care with Steve Moss is now available. this 85-minute DVD features detailed instructions on harp tuning, cleaning, restringing, and moving. If you’ve just bought a harp, or are about to, Harp Care will answer all the questions you don’t even know how to ask yet.
I shot the footage in Salt Lake City with the help of good friends like Catharine Delong and Eliza Hintze, and with an excellent film crew headed by Heather Aoyagi. Ann Hintze Rodriquez did the jacket design and the fabulous Mary and Craig Bircher contributed music. I’m proud of what we came up with, and I hope that you will like it too. You can view the introduction and place an order online here.
Let me know what you think!
In response to a question from a client of mine, here’s a short video on how to tighten up loose tuning pins. It should work on any make of harp that has pins that run all the way through the neck, as opposed to the zither-type (or Autoharp type) pins that are screwed into the string side and tuned from the string side. As I explain in the video, tuning pins tend to work loose, especially when a string is replaced. All that is usually needed is to push them a little deeper into the hole in the neck. The hole is tapered to fit the shape of the pin, so the more you push them, the tighter they will feel and the better they will hold.
I’ve heard of people who try to accomplish this by whacking on the back end of the pins with a hammer or mallet. While this should theoretically work, in practice it rarely seems to, and there’s the danger of that hammer going where you don’t want it to. Try my approach and see how it works for you.