How We Do It
Why does Joanna Jordan play the Electric Harp and why would I want this?
Many people ask me, “Why did you choose the electric harp instead of the acoustic harp when you played in Carnegie Hall where the acoustics are perfect?”
My answer is that I feel that electric harp captures the beautiful sound of an acoustic harp, improving upon its middle and lower notes (sounds), creating a rich, clear and distinct sound with the higher sounds lovely & mellow. Also, when I used to play the acoustic harp in concerts where you could hear a pin drop, audience members would tell me that they could not hear the harp when I played softly. Since I enjoy playing the harp expressively, with all kinds of dynamics, the acoustic harp became inferior as I had to play it louder than I thought was pleasing in order to be heard, with the end result being a performance that was not as musical as I can be with the electric harp.
I am not the only person with this opinion,
“In the 17 years that I have been Stage Manager, Joanna Jordan’s concert was one of the best harp concerts I have ever seen here.”
Dennis O’Connell, CARNEGIE HALL
“The sound of the Electric harp is phenomenal—and the album CLAZZIC brings together a wide variety of music giving it all a new face–Joanna’s approach to the Prokofiev C Major Prelude is exquisite”
Music Director/Program Host
THE NEW CLASSICAL 96.FM TORONTO
When I play either in a noisy environment, where people are talking in the background or when I play the harp with other musicians that have louder instruments like the flute, violin or the guitar, bass or drums, the need to amplify the harp is a must.
The electric harp amplified still sounds like a beautiful harp because it was created to work with sound equipment.My clients appreciate and notice the difference. That makes it a good thing for all of us.
Please have listen of some samples of the harps, with or without amplification:
Acoustic Harp vs Electric Harp compare sounds
Years ago, I used to play as loudly as I could on my acoustic harp without amplification. I got compliments. However, I knew that while people could hear my music on the outskirts of the room as they entered, they could barely hear it when they were in the room when more people arrived.
I tried putting microphones and pick-ups on the acoustic harp and it did not sound good at all. It sounded kind of tinny and certainly not at all like the lovely sound of an acoustic harp in my living room. Another issue was that the microphone not only amplified the harp, but the crowd noise as well. The pick-ups or a microphone amplified the pedals changing (that’s what harpists do to change pitches) and it sounded like a herd of elephants. While this might be good for gigs that take place at safaris, I’m sure most people would not want these sounds when they hire a harpist!!!
So that’s why I provide the Electric Harp. My clients absolutely love this harp!
How We Create Our Styles of Music
In all styles, Joanna’s music is presented with authenticity to its genre, creating sophistication, elegance and excitement, when need be. People appreciate that the music does not sound like elevator music. The ability to make this kind of presentation has taken extensive training and many years of experience and expertise -not just training in classical music-Joanna is trained in jazz, pop, rock and world music, As well, Joanna is constantly expanding her repertoire and currently has more than 7,000 songs available from her library.
Joanna moved her music from bulky multiple binders to the Ipad in 2009. Making this move helped her improve how long it takes between songs. As well, finding a song request or switching between genres take seconds. Because of Joanna’s large repertoire, Before this, Joanna used to bring several binders of music to each event. One minute when she was playing Classical music and as the event evolved and the venue livelier, the need to change the mood caused the up and down and flipping between the pages to take up too much time. At the point that Joanna could not fit her sheet music into any binder, Joanna was so pleased to make the move to use the Ipad. Not only can she store the 4000 songs she knows, but Joanna also keeps books of songs that she might get requests for and play them on the spot. Joanna is like a DJ creating smooth transitions and mixes on the fly. ( while she is playing one song, she is lining up the next song)
Why does Joanna use instrumental Backing Tracks?
In 2009, Joanna started to use backing tracks at events. At first Joanna did this because not everyone can fit several musicians in tight spaces and Joanna preferred the more dynamic and authentic sound she would get with Bass, Drums and or Guitar accompaniment for Jazz songs.
Next Joanna starting adding Pop and Rock backing tracks. After this happened Joanna would sometimes work with live musicians, but the Jazz musicians were a bit snobby about playing Rock and Pop and they just did not give the right groove to back up the song with the kind of energy Joanna likes to play with. Rock musicians were not familiar with the jazz songs and sometimes could not read the charts. With over 4,000 songs in Joanna’s repertoire, there is not enough time to rehearse or teach several people all of this. As well, Joanna could only find a few musicians with versatility that she can count on that were not always available that could accompany her in all of the variety of styles she likes to present.
Another issue is that quite often clients like to know the musicians name and pictures of who they are getting. Joanna has an A list of musicians she will call first, but like any Band Leader, a gig comes up for most freelance musicians and the A list musician wants to take a tour or a Theatre job that provides more than a days work.
The effect of playing with the backing tracks is amazing and the best part is the Harp is clearly heard at the forefront and so there is no worry that you can’t hear the harp because the band is too loud or the drums are too loud. In most live musician situations, the only way to turn down the drummer is to have ask the drummer to play with brushes which only sounds good for slow songs.
Since most of the events Joanna is doing these days is to create background music, this makes the music sound level much more conducive for people to be able to hear each other. Another wonderful advantage of presenting the harp with instrumental tracks is the sound is nicer for background music because it is not high pitched and with no vocals making it easier for people to chat with one another. It is easier as well for guests to talk to one another when the music is instrumental and mid range rather than a vocalist that is also singing words. And of course there is no need to worry about any explicit words!
Toronto Harpist Joanna Jordan’s Past Client List
Skydome / Rogers Centre
Sony Centre for the Performing Arts
Roy Thomson Hall
Ontario Place Forum Imperial Room
Art Gallery of Ontario
Chicago Blues Festival
Guelph Spring Festival Toronto Centre for the Performing Arts
Chicago Blues Festival
Her Majesty, The Queen Mother
Her Royal Highness, The Princess Margaret
Their Royal Highness’s, Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex and Princess Sophie
The Three Tenors
Vatican Secretary of State, His Eminence Cardinal Casaroli
The International Olympic Committee
Prince Albert of Monaco
The Raja of Punjab
Franklin Roosevelt Jr.
Dr. Armin Hammer
Pierre Elliot Trudeau
Deloitte & Touche LLP
International Monetary Fund
Toronto Police Senior Officers’ Party
The Princess Bride Opening Gala
Lord of the Rings Opening Gala
Toronto Blue Jays National Anthems
Toronto Film Festival
Toronto Symphony Preludes Concerts
American Harp Society Concert Artist Recitals
Long Island, NY