A few months ago I started considering the possibility that it might be time to look into buying a new harp. The last time I went through this process I looked for nearly a year before finding the instrument that suited (my long-serving and much cherished Lyon and Healy 85 – otherwise known as Greta/Grets). When I first went along to the showroom in late February, then, on an initial ‘reconnaissance’ trip, I was not expecting to find my next partner in crime. However, that is exactly what happened. I was rather taken aback by the seeming ease and speed with which this discovery happened, and so visited multiple times before taking the plunge.
My new instrument is a Lyon and Healy model 23 (and has been named Phoebe). The thing that struck me immediately about this instrument is its consistency of sound across all ranges – something that is really hard to find in harps. Perhaps my favourite register is the crystalline upper octaves that are an absolute joy to play.
Although people show a variety of responses to naming instruments (from the mildly intrigued to the downright mocking), for me naming an instrument is a relatively superficial symptom of a deeper and more serious truth: acquiring a new instrument is the start of a mutual partnership. This harp will not only produce sounds that are both unique to it and particular to my way of playing, but will develop over time across all its ranges, growing even more suited to my technique. This instrument is central to my day to day music making and artistic goals, and will be my closest companion in executing the art about which I care so deeply.