Different Types of Hits

On the harp it is possible to execute many types of hits or percussive sounds with the hands, nails or even object (must be done very carefully in order to not damage the instrument!). There are many ways of notating the hits, often (to keep a better overview) they are also written outside the bar or a extra line for the hits is added in the composition.
Some of the possible variations of hits are:

  • Hit with open hand
  • Hit with the knuckles/fist
  • Hit with the fingertips (thumb is louder than all the other fingers)
  • Hit with the fingernails

Also the part of the harp that will be hit is decisive for the color of the sound, the effect and the dynamic:

  • Hit on the Soundboard: the higher the register, the higher and shorter resonation, the lower, the lower and broader resonation. It is also possible to slide or rub with a finger or the palm of the open hand on/along the harp.
  • Hit on the Sound Box: the sound will slightly vary depending on the part of the sound box but is in general less resonant than on the soundboard, because of the difference in thickness of the wood (soundboard is thinner than sound box).
  • Hit on the Metal Parts

For example the neck plate on the harp is made of metal and can be also used for percussive sounds. It can be done also by using a hard object to increase (See Chapter V. Using Objects).

Luciano Berio, Sequenza II (1963) © Universal Edition, London.

Yoshihisa Taïra, Sublimation (1971) © Durand, Paris.

Sylvain Kassap, Claire (2008) © Misterioso, Paris.

Sylvain Kassap, Claire (2008) © Misterioso, Paris.

Sylvain Kassap, Claire (2008) © Misterioso, Paris.