Harp and Dance in Bogotá (and a rant about accordions) - posted to harplist

Saturday, I am in my sixth day here at Academia Llano y Joropo in Bogotá. I am working on three new pieces, under close and demanding scrutiny of Hildo Ariel. But the exciting thing this morning was watching a dance lesson.

Tatiana (14) and Sergio (15) are the children of the family, but already so grown-up! Sergio is already an outstanding harpist, and Tati plays maracas like you have never seen.

Anyway, Tati and Sergio had a dance lesson from a young couple that came to the Academia. I will try to post some video somewhere, somehow, but for the moment all I want to do is make a strong point:.


The dance aspect is not entirely lost with Celtic, but I venture that most harpists on this list are not much interested in harp and dance. You all are mostly into sweet, mellow, lyric, soulful, angelic(?!!). Am I right?

This is not to demean the lyric, the sweet, mellow, etc. That aspect is VERY DEFINITELY PRESENT in Latin American styles, as any superficial investigation will show.

Watching the dance lesson was VERY INSTRUCTIVE. They used recorded music, some of the most "raucous" that can be found. It was TOTALLY CHARMING to see these young people so lively and enthusiastic. I mean, c'mon, harpists, the range of musical reactions is wider than is generally acknowledged on this list.

I'm betting Beth Kollé could comment on harp as applied to Scandinavian dancing, and I know I've seen a couple of Irish harpists with dance licks (can't name them right off).

This is becoming a rant, but hey. The accordion has probably edged the harp out of the dance business. Here in Colombia there is an accordion style called Vallenato (go here to hear it, if you dare!).

For some of us, it calls up the Far Side cartoon: "Welcome to heaven, here's your harp; Welcome to hell, here's your accordion.

So, I'm not really against accordion music, I actually played it for a while. But I like the harp better. Just because the accordion is good for dancing, doesn't mean the harp can't or shouldn't also be.

On this rant, I gotta remember the time, many years ago, when I was playing accordion, I mentioned to folk music collector Alan Lomax that I thought the accordion was due for a revival. His reply: "God, I hope not!!

He went on to say that the accordion in Russia and Eastern Europe doomed to extinction all sorts of little string and wind instruments.

On the same line there is a Russian novel (Oblomov, by Ivan Goncharov) in which an effete noble (Oblomov) bemoans the construction of a road leading to his country estate. In essence, he complained that the peasants would "start wearing boots and playing accordions."

OK, can I stir up any blowback? Whatever. I'm just having the time of my life.