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FRAYA THOMSEN - New Tunes For Harp (Beginners, Intermediate, Advanced)

FRAYA THOMSEN - New Tunes For Harp (Beginners, Intermediate, Advanced)
Taigh Na Teud ISBN: 9781906804 077 / 084 / 091

Fraya Thomsen is a Scottish harpist and composer in high demand. As one half of the duo, The Duplets, her tunes are widely sought after. She has drawn on her broad teaching experience to make a collection which has an exciting, modern feel, whilst promoting good technique and a musical approach to make the music “full of spirit and spontaneity.”

All three books work together from beginners through to the advanced. The tunes do seem to get more complicated as you progress through each stage and become more accomplished.

The beginners book has a page on technique – where to place fingers and thumbs and on to placings, shapes and key signatures – then a page and a half of finger placing and plucking exercises. The tunes include the hornpipe Many Happy Days, which is good for getting both hands playing together. In The Gold Diggers, Fraya imagines a group of gnomes going into a mine when playing, it stops her speeding up in the second part – imagination is a great help when playing tunes. The book continues with the waltz, Light On The Ness, a strathspey, The Snappy Crocodile and the Tapestry Jig.

The intermediate book goes from a slow reel to a strathspey and a slip jig. There is a delightful anecdote to The Skinny Idiots – Fraya wrote it when she was a music student and living on coffee and sandwiches. She chose the title after she and her flat-mate realised that they were less grumpy after eating.

The advanced book has longer tunes and more ornamentation. Granny’s Parting Gift was written for her granny’s funeral and Kiss The Toad Rosie was written about a friend in Arisaig who had a toad living under her front doorstep who jumped out to say hello when not expected.

These are good, well produced and clearly printed books, that would enhance any harp player’s collection. Some of the tunes can also be found on the Duplets CDs.

Kathy and Bob Drage

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This album was reviewed in Issue 96 of The Living Tradition magazine.