Well, as soon as I heard I could pre-order one, I did. Several months ago. I had all but forgotten about it when Mike from Uke Republic emailed to say my aNueNue Harp ukulele, designed by Pete Howlett, was about to ship.
I thought to myself, do I really want one anymore? It’s so expensive and I don’t feel as excited about it as I did when I ordered it.
But what the heck? It came and it is a lovely instrument. Well-built. Smells good. The tenor uke itself is a fine instrument and fun to play. (My first tenor) Also, a sweet biproduct of the harp uke is it’s resonance. When I play songs on it that don’t use the diapason strings (the upper four, non-fretted strings) they behave as sympathetic strings, vibrating and creating a rich natural reverb sound.
Out of the box (and nice hard case) it is strung with a low G and the recommended tuning for the diapason is, from the top down, C D E F, with the low G of the regular 4 uke strings being next. Well, that didn’t work for me. I knew the first thing I would do is put a high G on it so that’s what I did. Better. Now I can play my campanella riffs and prettied up chords. Otherwise it is just a 7 string guitar to me and I have plenty of guitars laying around.
I wanted this thing to sound like a harp (hmm). I didn’t want to just play chords with bass notes because I do that on the guitar all the time. Note: If you don’t have or play a guitar, try it first with the factory stringing and tuning. It will definitely be an expansion from the norm. If you want to incorporate some Ukelele Secrets on it then read on.
So.. the top strings still weren’t doing it for me. My goal was, and is, to utilize reentrant tuning with campanella style somehow integrated into the bass notes.
I fished around and came up with (top down) C E A G. The same notes as the ukulele, only rearranged. When strummed they sound reentrant as well. And when the whole thing is strummed.. it sounds like a harp.
Now to just play it. The ideas that came popping out weren’t what I expected. This instrument has a way of revealing itself to you. I forced myself on it but it said let me show YOU some things. I listened.. and then I had to learn how to repeat what it revealed. This thing is not that easy to play (just watch me rubbernecking throughout the video, so much to keep an eye on). But it is cooperative. It responds to high repetition gifting you with greater accuracy and ideas. Snuck a Secret in there, didn’t I.
So, here is my first seedling of a composition. I know the future holds more and I look forward to sharing with you my journey into Harp Ukulele.
I shared this video in a forthcoming post but will add it here to have them together.
My second harp ukulele composition.. King’s Rain