Well, as I said in my last autoharp related blog post, I am delighted with the OS GD diatonic autoharp. It delighted me so much that when I spotted a lovely walnut and cedar GDA autoharp in a slightly scaled down design I was instantly smitten with Autoharp Acquisition Syndrome or AAS (tongue in cheek joke among people who enjoy autoharps so much they end up with several, usually one chromatic and several diatonics). This lovely instrument became mine after some budget negotiations with my beloved hubby.
So now I have a lovely sounding walnut and cedar autoharp that is strung to play in the keys of G, D and A. The sound is quite pretty and there is less “dead wire” when chording. The smaller size is much easier for me to get my arms around and I am thrilled with the quality of the workmanship. Hubby is delighted with the diatonic sound and says he thinks this was a better buy than my really nice chromatic. I sympathize with him because the chromatic has more “dead wire” sound when played and for me this is merely part of the natural sound of this type of instrument. To hubby it is an unpleasant sound to his ear trained as it was on classical music.
And I loan the delightful OS GD out next week to a young friend, the daughter of one of my buddies, and I hope she finds the joy in the autoharp sound. She is saving her money for her own but I wanted her to have the chance I had when I began to handle and play a loaner first. It is a big expense, even if she goes with an Oscar Schmidt, especially for a young person. I consider it worth while but then I have been nutty over the autoharp for twenty years or so.
I met the autoharp in college when I took a class in using music to teach young children. We were able to check out autoharps and learn a song on them for one of our projects. I was charmed. Then when my now-adult children were small I purchased an Oscar Schmidt autoharp because it was the only company I could find that made them. It was still fun but went nowhere due to lack of practice. Fast Forward and I finished my masters degree, found myself home with another baby and hungry to be MAKING music and not just listening to music.
My grandmother, who was an amazing woman, always sent money to her grandchildren. She was 101 years old and I thought to myself, this is likely the last gift I will receive from her and I want something that will always remind me of her.
So I went online and looked up autoharps and discovered that in 20 years a LOT had changed in autoharping. People had found the internet and were busy on it. There were people who had been hand making really nice autoharps for years who now had web pages. I could not only find out they exist but see pictures and descriptions of the autoharps they build AND talk to them by email or phone! This was a whole new world opening up. No more being the only person I knew who even knew what an autoharp looked like.
There were discussion lists (Cyberpluckers) of people who ranged from the beginners like me who may always be beginners all the way up to world class autoharpists who have CD’s of music out and are amazingly talented and SKILLED. Amazing and inspiring. The people who love autoharps are a pleasant, helpful and really wonderful group of people. I’ve liked everybody I met.
YouTube was another delightful discovery because some of those world class autoharpists have put many videos up there, explaining autoharps, giving simple lessons in maintenance, discussing things like the difference between a chromatic and a diatonic autoharp.
Still another major discovery for me is that there are conventions out there, festivals of music that include autoharp competitions and workshops for every skill level, and one, the Winter Festival of Acoustic Music, was close enough to drive up and attend one of the two days. Oh that was incredible! Multiple workshops on aspects of playing the autoharp, vendors selling all sorts of lovely instruments, music, and offering restringing and repairs. Marvelous people willing to talk to me about the autoharp and answer my neophyte questions patiently. I was surrounded for an entire day with marvelous music of every sort and so much extroverted energy that I think I was a bit high on the experience. I hope I get to go again.
I decided to buy my first really good autoharp with money from Grandma so I could think of her every time I played it and pass the story on to my children along with the autoharp. I’m very glad I did this because Grandma passed away just shy of her 102nd birthday. Josey, my lovely walnut and redwood chromatic autoharp, is even more cherished as a physical link to many good memories.
And Josey now shares playing time with my new GDA diatonic autoharp in walnut and cedar. I need a name for it.
So the only major hole in my autoharp collection is an FC diatonic and I have no idea when I might have the money to fill that need. Meanwhile I am enjoying the sounds of autoharp music as I attempt to train my ear better so I can learn to play better.
I’m posting this now but tomorrow may pop back in and add a bunch of links, meanwhile, take a look to the left sidebar of my blog and you will find a LOT of autoharp links.
God bless and may you make a joyful noise to the Lord!