We had our home Yule Session yesterday – we played about 40 tunes using various combinations of fiddle (4), guitar (2), cello, ukelele, lever clarsach (2), piano, whistle (2 at least), three-row nyckelharpa, erhu, kontrabas nyckelharpa, 80 bass accordion … I think that’s it. It was a tremendous amount of fun! Many thanks to everyone who attended, musicians and those who fed and watered them ? and took photos.

harp and harpa
The nyckelharpa resting beside the lever harp

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Harps of Gold all tinselled up and ready for the concert in the Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh this afternoon. Great fun, I think we sounded pretty good.

tinselled harps on stage

Speaking of dress – guess who wanted a photo of me considerably more dressed up than usual Note especially the MacLeod tie, since her father’s one now lives in Canada.


Here’s a link to us all onstage, until it breaks:

That's Harps of Gold over for another year, what a brilliant concert it was! ? Sure the whole audience is feeling super…

Posted by Edinburgh Branch of the Clarsach Society on Sunday, 10 December 2017


I have always played with sound recording, from when I had an ancient (and extremely heavy) reel-to-reel tape recorder as a teenager, which I used to record things like the Apollo Moon landings and Concorde’s first flight, from the TV. Later I had a neater Philips reel-to-reel machine; I think its biggest use was the creation and playing of “party tapes” – long compilations that could be left running for hours at a very slow tape speed at parties in the 1970s!

More recently, when I started going to fiddle classes and workshops, I bought a Zoom H1 portable recorder, which will record .wav or .mp3 to a memory card.

Zoom H1 recorder

It’s a great little device that produces excellent quality recordings; the only problem is that it has some design or component fault that means that it slowly discharges the AA battery even when it is switched off. It means that the date and time has to be reset if it has been turned off for any length of time with the battery out. I have had it in bits but can’t be sure where the problem is (it is allegedly a faulty capacitor). It can be powered by the usb cable instead of the battery, which is fine for home use.

I used this to make a test recording for Christmas 2017, using the lovely Swedish tune “Julottan” written by Mats Wallman. It’s played on nyckelharpa, fiddle, and lever harp (clarsach).

It was recorded one instrument at a time (actually in four takes, as I did the harp melody and chords separately) in a fairly primitive way; I copied the nyckelharpa line from the Zoom to an old laptop, which I then used to play it  back (in Audacity) into my headphones whilst I recorded the next instrument on the Zoom. The four tracks were then synchronised by tweaking their time positions in the Openshot video editor, where I also added the still photos. The synchronisation isn’t perfect, but the results have encouraged me to start getting a better setup for recording so I can do more multi instrument stuff.