REVERIE HARP FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How is the Reverie Harp tuned?
REVERIE TUNING: The standard Reverie tuning is a Pentatonic (5-note) scale in the key of C major. Those notes are C, D, E, G, & A (everything but the B and F notes). This makes the instrument harmonious no matter what notes you play together. When you pluck the strings randomly, even with your eyes closed, you will hear beautiful harmony – kind of like the tones of a wind chime.
We also have two alternative tunings, though very few people use them:
MEDITATION TUNING: This is a C minor pentatonic scale. The notes are C, D, E-flat, G, and A. The suggested use for this tuning is for a person who is quite depressed, as it expresses that sort of mood.
LULLABYE TUNING: This tuning divides the harp into two halves, left and right. We tune the left side to the C major pentatonic scale, and the right side to a D minor pentatonic scale. This arrangement allows a person to accompany songs with several chords, because the left side works well for the C and A minor chords, and the right side works for the F, D minor, and G7 chords. People use this tuning when they want to sing with the harp.
What kind of music can be played on this instrument?
The Reverie Harp is not really designed for playing music. You can pick out a few simple pentatonic melodies if you explore around on it to find the right notes (Amazing Grace, Go Tell it on the Mountain, Row Your Boat, Three Blind Mice, Mary Had a Little Lamb, etc). But this is not the main purpose of the harp.
Think of this as more of a therapy tool for non-musicians than a musical instrument for musicians. We designed it specifically so that a person does not need to engage the mind to enjoy pleasant sounds. So the word “play” does not mean “perform” on this harp. You “play with” this harp. You can close your eyes and play with it – we call it “noodling around” on the strings. A child can play with it, a person with limitations can enjoy playing with it.
So if you can’t play songs, what is the instrument for?
Relaxation, mostly. People use it for simple fun, dreamy relaxation, soothing harmonies, tactile stimulation, resonant vibrations, satisfaction of instant pleasure/success.
The harp also is useful as a tool to stimulate conversation and interaction. Two people can play together, one playing each half, to make musical harmonies together. You can start a conversation by asking things like, “What does this sound remind you of?”, or “How does this make you feel?”, or “What do you think the rosette (tree) symbolizes?”, etc.
We know of chaplains, counselors and therapists who use the Reverie Harp to help people relax and to open up meaningful conversations about feelings, memories, and deeper thoughts. It is a good tool for “breaking the ice” and moving quickly into important issues.
The harp can make many sound effects for story telling. Strum across the range for every time the scene (or page) changes, pluck high strings to represent a bird chirping or a kite flying, Pluck low notes to represent a large person talking or animal roaring, tap the wood for door-knocking or woodpecker pecking, scratch the thicker strings quickly for eerie sounds or slowly for the sound of a creaking door, and many more creative ideas.
How, exactly do you play the Reverie Harp?
A person can pluck individual strings, multiple strings (using thumb and fingers), or strum across a few or all of the strings. The only thing to avoid is harsh banging or strumming. Some people use a guitar pick, but most people just use their finger tips or fingernails.
Our instructional DVD gives some detailed coaching on playing nice rhythms by finger-picking with the thumb and one or two fingers, but these are advanced techniques that are not important for success.
How often does the Reverie Harp need to be tuned?
The harp is quite stable after the first 3-4 tunings, but you should expect to tune it at least once per week if you need it to be in tune with other instruments. If you only play the harp by itself, however, you may not need to tune it that frequently because all the strings tend to settle quite evenly across the harp.
How do you tune the Reverie Harp?
We recommend having a chromatic electronic tuner to aid in achieving accurate tuning. The harp comes with a tuning chart that slides under the strings, and a tuning key (wrench) for the pins. Our DVD includes instructions for tuning, using an electronic tuner.
What happens if a string breaks?
The strings are not prone to breaking unless you over-tune to a higher pitch. This can occur inadvertently if you are plucking one string and adjusting the pin for another string. You might over-tighten one string because you don’t see movement in the pitch of the one you are plucking. So you want to be careful to keep track of which string you are tuning and what note it should be tuned to.
We use common guitar strings (ball-end steel) on the Reverie Harp. If you break a string, you can purchase replacements from Musicmakers, or you can take the scrap of broken string to a local music store that sells guitar strings and buy a similar string. The store won’t have a complete set of strings for the Reverie Harp, but they should offer individual guitar strings.
Many people purchase a spare set of strings from Musicmakers just to avoid the hassle of having to search for replacements.
How do you disinfect the Reverie Harp for use in a hospital?
You can wipe down the harp (strings and wood) with disinfectant wipes that are commonly used in hospitals. These products are safe for your hands, so they will be safe for the harp too. We think disinfectant wipes are easier to use than sprays or foams.