The Plucked String Family

The Harp

Though there are numerous types of harps, it’s the classical harp which is used in an orchestra. Played by plucking the strings, it is a real challenge for the fingers of anyone who decides to play it. With 47 different strings of varying lengths, it takes a very long time to tune. So long, in fact, that most harpists arrive before the rest of the orchestra just to be able to tune their instrument.

Antoine Mallette-Chénier and Robin Best, harpists of the Orchestre Métropolitain

Did you know?

Harpists also play with their feet, adjusting the height of the 7 pedals which change the pitch of the strings of their instrument.

Musical excerpts

In the Symphonie fantastique by Berlioz, two harpists play a solo together, alternating playing rising arpeggios around the melody played by the rest of the orchestra. It would seem that there are two harpists in the next excerpt, taken from the Concerto en sol by Ravel, but it is in fact only one! And at the very end of the excerpt we get to hear a triangle roll.

Hector Berlioz

Symphonie Fantastique, Op. 14: II. Un bal

Maurice Ravel

Piano Concerto in G major: I. Allegramente

Pyotr Ilych Tchaikovsky

The Nutcracker: Flower Waltz

Tchaikovsky's ballet The Nutcracker is the favourite symphonic work of Éric Champagne, composer and collaborator with the Orchestre Métropolitain. Discover what he loves so much about this piece!