An Autoharp

I have always enjoyed making music even though I suffer from an inability to cope with musical notation. Those strange black notes on their stave of five lines mean something to me, but translating them into finger movements that can lead to an instrument being played takes me far too long. I always feel at a loss if expected to cope with that kind of notation.

But although I started as a drummer in a teenage band, I did develop some ability on a guitar and I can sit at a piano or other keyboard and thrash out songs, making up a suitable chord with my left hand and picking out a melody with my right.

If I have a piece of music with guitar chords written in then that’s good for I can use them and I can keep a vague idea of what the melody might be doing from the notes on the stave – but basically, what I play will be my decision rather than what’s in front of me on paper.

The autoharp might have been designed with me in mind. It’s a string instrument shaped a bit like a zither. But the autoharp has a series of labelled buttons on bars over the strings. Down on a button and strum the strings and you get a chord with a lovely mellow tone. It’s an ideal instrument to accompany something else.

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I was lucky enough to acquire one second hand. It had probably belonged to a school who replaced such instruments with keyboards. But possibly, it was not used in the UK for labels show notes and chords differently.

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I think it could be French.

I don’t seem to find much time for it, but I am pleased to have it.

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