Introduction and Melodic Contour

Welcome to our unit in Celtic lever harp composition!

The Chestnut Tree Medley from “Celtic Harpestry” performed by Nollaig Casey, Máire Ní Chathasaigh, Chris Newman & Roy Dodds

While you listen to the above recording, consider the following:

  • What are some of the main elements of this musical style? What really stands out to you as you listen?
  • What do you like about this style of harp playing? Is there a specific technique that you hear that you would like to learn?
  • Listen for the shape or the contour of the melody. How would you describe this shape?

Melodic Contour:

Melodic contours describes the shape of the melody. We can draw the general shape of a given melody in order to follow when it is ascending, descending or staying the same. Let’s draw the melodic contour for Foggy Dew.


Part 1: Listen to the following recordings and then complete the listening assignment:

1. The Star of the County Down from “Celtic Harpestry” performed by Deborah Henson-Conant

A section melody: 0:17-0:37, also at 1:07-1:25 and 2:06-2:26

B section melody: 0:37-0:46, also at 1:26-1:35 and 2:27-2:36

C section melody: 0:57-1:07

2. Planxty George Brabazon from “Water From the Well” performed by The Chieftains

A section melody: 0:00-0:26, also at 0:50-1:15 and 1:40-2:05

B section melody: 0:26-0:50, also at 1:15-1:40 and 2:05-end

3. Londonderry Aire from “Celtic Harpestry” performed by Deborah Henson-Conant

A section melody: 0:00-0:35, also at 1:16-1:51

B section melody: 0:37-1:12, also at 1:54-2:27 and 2:31-3:06

Part 2: Download and fill out the attachment below. When you have completed the puzzle, take a picture and upload it here.