Last time, I discussed some of the things you may want to keep in mind when hiring a harpist for outdoor events, but what about if your event is indoors?
If you are indoors, you obviously don’t have to worry about the weather, but there are a few things that you may want to keep in mind as you make arrangements for your harpist.
Many indoor venues are handicap accessible, but sometimes there are historic buildings or barns that are not. A harpist would love to know how many stairs he or she may have to take the harp up or down. If necessary, an assistant or spotter may be requested by the harpist in order to get the harp to the desired location. A harp up into the balcony of an old church is beautiful and dramatic, but very difficult to get up there!
While the harp is a relatively loud acoustic instrument, a room packed with milling people and conversations may be drown it out. In this case, it may be necessary to ask your harpist if he or she provides amplification. Many harpists have a portable amplifier that they can use to boost their sound. Some harpists use microphones, some have pick-ups installed on the inside of the instrument.
If using house sound, keep in mind that an experienced sound technician may be needed to make the harp sound its best. As the instrument is so tall, where the microphone is placed may pick up only bass or only treble. The microphone also has to be placed as the harp is tipped back into playing position, which can be more than a foot from where the harp rests on the ground.
Lighting is a consideration for the harp more than many other instruments. If you are wanting a dark room with very little or specific colored lighting, this is something you may need to discuss with your harpist. Besides the obvious issue of seeing the music (if your harpist uses sheet music), most harpists need to be able to see their strings to know what note they are playing. Harps have red, white and black or blue strings to indicate what note they are in the scale. If it is too dark for a harpist to see the strings, he or she may have difficulty playing accurately. Many harpists have stand lights with small LED to light their music and the strings. Some lever harp players have a string of lights that illuminate the area under the entire neck of the harp for a very dramatic effect!
Along the same thought is rug patterns. Sometimes busy rug patterns, particularly those with the colors red and black, can cause the strings to get “lost” as the harpist looks through the strings at the floor. This can be avoided by putting down some solid fabric or a rug. Many harpist will have one of these if they have a tendency to lose their stings easily, so don’t be surprised if you find a rug next to your harpist. They just want to give you the best performance they can!