“Kumbaya,” also spelled “Kum Ba Ya,” is a well-known campfire song. I know I spent many happy Saturday nights around a campfire singing it as a child. Even those who couldn’t sing managed to catch on and make an effort.
No one really knows the song’s origin; in fact, there’s been some controversy surrounding it, as this article
points out. To me it was, and still is, a common song that I, personally, have used to bring people together.
This is number seven in my double strung experiments.
You will hear the melody played on zither, which has steel strings, and harmony on the lyre with softer, nylon strings. Notes of the melody and harmony echo each other at times. This is one of the many fascinating effects available on a double strung harp. As usual, it’s easier heard than explained, so I ask that you have a listen, and enjoy this peaceful arrangement!
Even if you’re not of Scottish descent, you’ve probably heard the folk song, “Loch Lomand.” There is also an Irish variant sung to the same tune, but with different lyrics, entitled “Red Is the Rose.” It’s a beautiful and recognizable melody, and I hope you enjoy hearing it on lyre!
Also known as “All the Pretty Little Horses,” the origin of this American folk song is unknown. This arrangement is based on one by Aaron Copland.
This is the sixth in my series of double strung experiments,
playing lyre and zither at the same time. You will hear the accompaniment weaving around the melody, without stopping it. Having two separate sets of strings, one for each hand, makes this possible.
This American folk melody is one of several musical settings for the hymn, “There is a Fountain,” also known by its full first line, “There Is a Fountain Filled with Blood.” The lyrics were written by William Cowper in 1772. I hope you enjoy this peaceful lyre arrangement!
Here is another traditional melody often used in harp therapy sessions. It is a Scottish folk song, first published in 1906. Though its lyrics are not the happiest, as they tell the story of a lost or unhappy love affair, the melody is calming and well-known. I hope you enjoy hearing it played on lyre!
You’re probably familiar with the beautiful traditional tune, “Shenandoah.” Though its exact origin is unknown, it may have originated with French Canadian fur traders. Some versions are also linked to cavalry men, mountain men, riverboat men, and soldiers on both sides of the Civil War. Whatever its origins, “Shenandoah” is one of the most recognizable American folk songs.
In this arrangement, I play the melody on my 22-string zither (also called a lap harp or plucked psaltery) and harmony on my 22-string lyre. One instrument for each hand allows free access to all 22 strings.
I’ve heard some beautiful harp arrangements of this song. However, unless it is a large floor harp with 34 strings or more, the hands may run into each other while playing. This is eliminated when each hand has its own full set of strings.
“Shenandoah” is the fifth in my series of double strung experiments,
preparing for a double strung harp. The harp is the same idea, except it is designed and built with two rows of strings on a single instrument. This means that eventually, I won’t need to hold two instruments on my lap, not to mention trying to tune them in perfect unison!
I hope you enjoy this arrangement, and that you’re having a safe and happy Labor Day!
In the United States, this Civil War era hymn is known as “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” In other countries, it is better known as “Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory.” The abolitionist Julia Ward Howe wrote the lyrics in 1861, to the tune “John Brown’s Body.” Howe is my maiden name, and I’ve always wondered if she was a distant ancestor of mine. I don’t know, but I do hope you enjoy hearing this hymn played on lyre!
Have a happy, healthy, and safe Labor Day weekend!
Here is the traditional English ballad, “Scarborough Fair,” played with melody on lyre, and harmony on zither. This is the fourth but not the final of my attempts to play lyre and zither at the same time, in preparation for playing a double strung harp.
As I mentioned last week,
tuning these instruments in exact unison is very difficult, mostly due to the difference in string materials. If you have a very sensitive ear for music, I apologize for the tuning discrepancies. Otherwise, I hope you enjoy hearing the possibilities offered by having two sets of strings!
Although “Come, Thou Almighty King” is often attributed to Charles Wesley, the text is actually anonymous. The melody is an Italian hymn, composed by Felice Giardini. The earliest known publication of text and melody together was in 1757. It remains a popular traditional Christian hymn today, more than 250 years later.