Progressive Lessons

a harp source book by Simon Chadwick

Tutor book cover

How to get a harp

If you are in Ireland or Scotland, you may be able to rent a harp from the Historical Harp Society of Ireland. You can also buy harps from the HHSI. I particularly recommend you to consider a replica or a simplied student copy of the Downhill harp or of the Castle Otway harp

For detailed information about each of the old Gaelic harps preserved in museums in Scotland and Ireland, see my complete list


I have made comprehensive listings of historical information about orientation and about the use of fingernails and finger tips.

I have been documenting my own experiments with fingertip playing since 2016 on my blog at simonchadwick.net

Many years ago I made an online edition of Edward Bunting’s tables of playing techniques and technical terminology, including video demonstrations.

The collector and the tradition bearers

I have made mini-sites describing the two harpers, Denis O’Hampsey and Patrick Quin. These two links will take you to my most up-to-date and complete information about them, their harps, their music, atheir lives, and further reading.

I also have a mini-site about Edward Bunting, detailing his music collecting and his manuscripts.


You can find my latest thoughts and ideas about this music on my blog at simonchadwick.net

My personal website is simonchadwick.net with links to my Youtube, Twitter, etc.

This website, earlygaelicharp.info, presents the majority of my scholarly work on the subject. There are a number of different research projects on this site, focussing on gathering and collating information on different aspects of the tradition. It also acts as the publishing house for my books and CDs.

The Historical Harp Society of Ireland organises the annual Scoil na gCláirseach in Kilkenny every August, and also has a substantial library, and has harps for sale and rent.

Keith Sanger and Michael Billinge publish occasional articles of very detailed historical research on aspects of the Gaelic harp traditions at their site wirestrungharp.com

Books & articles

My advanced tutor book, Gestures, would give a good follow-on to this book, covering more advanced fingering techniques.

I originally learned to play the harp from Ann Heymann’s tutor books. Her blue books Secrets and First Tunes used the three beginners tunes, and so they were the first tunes I learned on the harp way back then.

My complete catalogue of books is available via the Emporium.

I maintain a bibliography of scholarly articles relating to the study of the historical Gaelic harp traditions.

Return to Progressive Lessons introduction and contents list