People are often curious about the arranging process. In my experience, a good introduction idea is key…
My mother still has the yellow carbon copy packing slips from our first two Melody’s orders. That was my introduction to the harp fifteen years ago! The first, from 2007, is for an electric tuner, “First Harp Book” and “Harp Solos, Vol. 1.” Our family bought two pedal harps in 2013, and our orders began to include repertoire such as “Aria in Classic Style” and “Impromptu-Caprice.” At that point, the thought of my arrangements ever being part of a store’s inventory hadn’t even crossed my mind. That would change.
I had already been playing our lever harp occasionally in our church orchestra. Now with three harps, my younger twin siblings and I began playing trios for special music. We quickly exhausted the very limited supply of sacred trio music available, and out of necessity, I began writing for our ensemble. Like most first attempts, my 2013 arrangements were impractical and sometimes copies of existing piano arrangements. They quickly wound up in a “memories” folder. 2014 was a year of discovering my own style and produced works like “All the Way” and “The Church’s Firm Foundation.”
By 2017, I had 15 pieces (including two classical trios – “Morning” and “Andante Cantabile”) to share with the greater harp world. It was a year of change for me. My family had just moved from Iowa to Alabama, where harpists are few and far between, and I graduated from high school. The foremost goal for my gap year was to publish my music. Mary Radspinner was the first person I contacted. She liked my work and had a suggestion – to rework as many of the trios as possible for all lever harp ensembles. To my surprise, this was quite doable for all but two of the fifteen. As of this spring, 44% of my sales have been lever harp versions, so her suggestion was golden.
Fast-forward to 2022 and I have just graduated with degrees in harp performance and mathematics from the University of Montevallo. The past four years were filled with gigs, volunteer performances at hospitals, and inspiration from transcription and composition classes. Currently, I have 22 harp ensemble titles in addition to several choral and orchestral works elsewhere. I’ve recently begun assisting Melody’s with uploading digital products and other website tasks. Arranging is again a priority for me while continuing studies in statistics pursuing an actuarial credential. Harp trios – sacred, folk, and classical – are on the list, but I am branching out into solo arrangements and transcriptions, specifically geared toward background harp gigs.
In arranging, a good introduction takes many forms. It could look like a short original melody (as in “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” “Lo, How a Rose E’re Blooming,” and “Wonderful Peace”), an appealing accompaniment pattern (as in “Creation Medley”), or even a short vamp into the chorus or last line of the song (see “A Patriotic Medley”). The inspiration for this initial idea could randomly come to mind, but more often it is reached by sitting down at the harp or piano and playing around with the song’s melody.
I look forward to publishing more music for y’all in the near future and being a part of Melody’s excellent service to the harp world!