I thought it would be fun to start off 2017 talking about a traditional harp tune that was one of the first “real songs” I learned to play. (“Real song” means beyond “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” and finger exercises.)
“The Ash Grove” is a traditional Welsh tune that’s been borrowed and re-arranged by the English many times. There are several versions of lyrics too, most telling about love and loss.
There are several wonderful memories associated with this song for me. First, I remember my harp instructor explaining principles and techniques of fingering. Some of her notes are still written in the music book. My instructor passed away several years ago, and her penciled markings and fingering directions are sweet reminders of all she taught me.
Secondly, I played this song at my cousin’s wedding in 2008. It was the first time I’d played harp at a wedding, and I was so nervous. (There’s a funny story that I’ll have to share another day about the “Bridal March.”) “The Ash Grove” was the piece used for the bridesmaids’ entrance and the flower girl and ring bearer. I remember repeated the “music box” section of the arrangement quite a few times as the flower girl slowly and meticulously sprinkled flowers on the aisle.
For any harpists who might be reading this blog and wondering which arrangement of the traditional song I prefer… It’s from Where The Fingers Fall, arrangements by Sharon Thormahlen. You can find a link to the music book on Melody’s Traditional Music & Harp Shoppe.