The Ballad of the Harp Weaver
My first impression of this poem, from the 1923 Pulitzer-award-winning collection by the American poet Edna St Vincent Millay, was not of a tale of bleak circumstance but of the power of maternal love and the symbiotic relationship between instrument and player. I always loved hearing old-timers in New York referring to the ‘old’ and the ‘new’ worlds. It seems related somehow to this project which deals in the nostalgia I feel is inherent to traditional Irish and Scottish music and reflects my gratitude to my harp. It calls to mind old music-hall melodies, memories that won’t dissipate, the spell-binding recitation of a beautiful woman … In essence, this tangle of words and notes is my sonic postcard home, as I stand, like so many migrant musicians before me, on the bank of the Hudson and look East.
This collection of arrangements and transcriptions from the album is designed to launch you into the greater world of music and deepen your connection to our wonderful instrument. Go slowly, unveiling harmonic progressions, tuning into the rhythmic engine behind each piece, and use them as a jumpstart for your own variations and explorations. I hold no claims to the exact rendering of these pieces as I wouldn’t dream of playing them the same way twice. Enjoy, learn and move forward in honing your own voice as a weaver of beautiful things.
My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—
It gives a lovely light!
First Fig by Edna St Vincent Millay