Roráte Cæli is a beautiful Gregorian chant and fairly easy to play on a harp with sharping levers, but what if your harp is diatonic and doesn’t have these? The chant has two B naturals, both of them quilismas, that would be lightly and quickly sung. The remaining B’s are flatted.
Given that they are quickly sung in passing, I opted to leave them as they were played previously: Bb. On my cross-strung wire harp Esabelle this would not be an issue – play the B natural string. But playing on Jasmine’s harp, which at the moment has only F and C sharping levers, this isn’t an option. So I decided to leave things in favor of the harp’s current ability: depending on how it’s tuned it can play Bb for you but not B natural.
Other chants may have a Bb here and a B natural there in quite a few different places and not all of them softly sung upward notes. To arrange these chants to sound nice on a diatonic harp, one might need to be a little more flexible: take into consideration the shape of the chant melody and how essential are these notes to its overall mood and architecture and then try to work with one’s instrument to bring that out: this may involve playing a Bb when a natural is called for or replacing it with an (harmonically) appropriate substitute. Or simply not playing it at all, if leaving it out is an option.
With these concerns in mind, I will continue to arrange pieces mindful of everyone with diatonic harps and/or a modest set of levers.
As for Jasmine’s harp, a new set of Loveland levers (three!) has been ordered and will soon be installed. More later…