Autoharp

I love the fact that the autoharp is an easy instrument to learn and play (compared to piano, for example), but I'm not a big fan of playing backup! Below are some of my more extravagant melody arrangements.

Notation conventions:

  • Chords and melody notes are spaced to line up with the syllables of the lyrics when viewed in a monospaced font.
  • Chords are major unless otherwise specified as minor (m) or 7th (7).
  • Chords are given for each beat in a measure. If a chord stays the same for more than one beat within a measure, it is indicated subsequent times by -, but in the next measure it will be explicitly named again.
  • If another chord is needed to play a melody note that does not fall on the beat, the chord name will be given in (parentheses) to indicate that it is not on the beat.
  • Melody notes are numbered by octave following the MIDI convention. The lowest partial octave on the harp is numbered 1, the second octave (A through G#) is 2, and so on up to the highest partial octave, number 5. Numbers are only given when the melody moves to a new octave.

The Plumbers' Waltz (Super Mario Bros theme in 3/4 time)

Submitted by admin on Sun, 01/27/2019 - 14:46

This is a waltz arrangement of the Super Mario Bros theme song. Although I can play the melody notes, I'm only providing the accompaniment chords at this time. Each chord shown below represents a full measure of three beats (or two beats, if you're playing it the traditional way).

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Star Spangled Banner (To Anachreon in Heav'n)

Submitted by Ben on Fri, 02/27/2009 - 13:32

Autoharp arrangement by Ben Stallings

Note that this is in 3/4 time with the first beat of each line held over from the previous measure, so that you should start counting time with the word "say."

I like to play this with the more rollicking rhythm of the original song, "To Anacreon in Heav'n." Click through for a recording of my arrangement... it took two takes, so there's a hiccup in the middle.

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Spirit of Life

Submitted by Ben on Fri, 02/27/2009 - 13:30

By Carolyn McDade
Autoharp arrangement by Ben Stallings

For some reason when I play this ordinarily sedate hymn as an instrumental, I like to use a sort of calypso rhythm. Don't ask me why. Click through for a recording.

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Liberty Bell March

Submitted by Ben on Fri, 02/27/2009 - 13:14

by John Phillip Souza
a.k.a. the theme song of Monty Python's Flying Circus
autoharp arrangement by Ben Stallings

This tune has no lyrics, but here's the fully orchestrated tune in case you're unfamiliar. Note that this recording is in the key of F while the transcription below is in G... unless your 'harp has an A#7 (Bb7) chord button, you won't be able to hit all the melody notes in F. But you could practice playing backup along with the music, if you like.

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Blue Boat Home (Hyfrydol)

Submitted by Ben on Fri, 02/27/2009 - 13:06

lyrics by Peter Mayer
tune ("Hyfrydol") by Rowland Prichard.

Peter Mayer's tune differs from the traditional hymn in that the last three notes are drawn out to three beats apiece; traditionally they get only one. Additionally, in the last verse during the words "sky my sailor song" he holds the Em chord while singing G for the entire line.

I play this in C because it's easier for me to sing. Your harp may sing it better in G.

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