Having spent nine months selecting a new digital recorder, and now having the basic instructions for recording and play-back deciphered, I couldn’t put it off any longer. I had to turn on the recorder, sit down at my harp, and play.
The first thing I learned was that I’m much less nervous about playing for my new techno-friend than for a real, live person. Knowing I could completely delete a file and any mistakes I made was very comforting. So what if I totally flubbed that second entrance? Select File 01 -> Delete, and it’s as if it never happened! Oh, to have that capability at a real performance!
Some technical points were immediately evident when I hit “playback”. I repeatedly cut short the long notes at the ends of phrases, which then makes the following phrase sound rushed. And my tempo is not as steady as I imagine it to be – I heard the delays where I’m trying to find and land on the correct strings. No wonder playing in harp ensemble always feels too fast. I’m mushing and slowing the tempo when I practice. So it’s back to playing with the metronome, for sure.
But the real surprise was how beautiful the music sounded. What can be heard at the front of my harp is totally different from what I hear while I’m playing. Suddenly, I understood the complements I received when I played at my friend’s studio, and seven months later, I believed them. I could hear what my audience heard. The tunes I played really were beautiful. Not perfect, but beautiful.
I know some of that beauty comes from the rich, resonant, velvety sound of my harp. But the beauty also comes from my arrangements of these lovely tunes, from how my fingers touch the strings, from my playing. It’s an amazing and sweet thing to hear and believe that I can play the harp beautifully, and play beautiful music.