Plucking and striking are the two main harp techniques, both of which refer to the method used to produce the notes on the instrument. There are sub-techniques associated with each of these two techniques, which are specific methods of performing a pluck or strike. The xylo technique, the pince technique, and the nails technique are all harp techniques related to the precise method used to pluck the strings. Percussive playing and playing “pdlt” are two other possible harp techniques that could be classified as sub-techniques.
Harps are stringed instruments, which means that the sound is created plucking or striking the instrument’s strings in various combinations to create a tune. Prior to producing the notes, the player’s fingers must be touching the strings about to be played, sometimes literally bending the string in preparation. The player’s fingers must be hovering over the notes they are about to play when using striking techniques. The sound is made either the plucking finger releasing the string or the striking finger striking the string.
Plucking harp techniques are used the majority of players, especially those who want to play classical music. Individual notes take longer to pluck in this method than in striking techniques, but plucking is a more systematic way of playing the instrument. It also allows players to control how tight the string is tightened before being released, giving them more control over tone and volume. The “xylo” technique involves placing fingers from the left hand on the string and plucking with the right, resulting in a “popping” note that sounds like a xylophone. The “pince” technique, which involves pinching the string with two fingers, is another example of a plucking sub-technique.
Striking is the less popular of the two main harp techniques, and it’s best used for folk music. The advantage of this technique is that it allows the hands to move around the harp more freely than plucking. Because the fingers do not have to grip the strings before playing the notes, strings can be played with greater fluidity and comfort. The “nails” technique, in which the strings are struck with the player’s nails, is a sub-technique of striking. The technique of playing a harp close to the soundboard is known as “pdlt,” and it produces a sound similar to that of a guitar.