New Blues with DHC
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Often, when I play with symphonies, I suggest that we perform a special multi-harp version of “New Blues” with the orchestra. When I do solo shows, sometimes I invite a local harpist - or several - onstage to play the same piece with me. This is an info sheet about those performances.

If you're reading this - it probably means we'll be playing together. I look forward to that and to meeting you!


Last Updates by DHC on (7/21/11... 3/16/10)

The name of the piece is "New Blues," and it's a simplified version created specifically for these performances. You can download the music below.

When we play it with a group, we call the group "The Harp-Breakers" or, using the name of the town, sponsor, state or region we're in we call the group "The LocalName Harp-Breakers."

Below are notes about these performances, plus sheet music and MP3 playalong files you can download to help you prepare.


This version of "New Blues" can be played by a variety of skill levels (i.e. it's easily simplifiable). In the past we've gone for the Wow-Factor by involving as many harpists as were logistically possible and the Cute-Factor by involving young student harpists as well as professionals -- and we always try to go for the "Solid Music" and "Fun" factors.

TEACHERS often work with their students on the piece, and then they can be involved as a group with the concert (meaning, the teachers and their students will often play near each other on the stage).


(note: Don't try to print the music at the left. The music to download is at the bottom of this page)

Lever or Pedal Harp: It can be played on both. It can be played on any harp of any size.

Printing out the music: If possible, print the music “double sided” starting with the cover page, to print page turns correctly. If you print single-sided, there’s no need to print the cover page.

Errata: Do not play in m. 75, 76, 77 & 78. Those measures are tacet.

Key / Levers / Pedals: Even though the piece is in Bb, make sure you raise your G(s) to G#. So: Bb Eb G# are your only accidentals and once you set your harp up, there should be NO lever or pedal changes through the whole piece.

Tempo / Meter: The meter is 12/8 so the metronome beats 4 to every bar -- and every beat is subdivided into 3 (kind of like 4 triplets in each bar)

Doubling / Simplifying: Most of the melody is doubled in octaves. If you’re more of a beginner and need to play only one line, that’s fine. Don’t worry about playing absolutely everything. What’s important is to play “with” the ensemble, so even if you play just the first note of the faster runs, it’s fine -- more advanced players will play the rest, and your one note will add important emphasis.

12-Bar Blues Form: The normal 12-Bar Blues starts at Letter C. Before then, the piece is a kind of modified Blues form. At letter D, you "lay out" (are tacet) for 12 bars (or maybe 24, or 36) -- just like you would in the Blues if players were taking “solos.”

Count-in: On the playback-mp3 there are two measures of of count-in and you come in on an upbeat, so you’ll hear the following beats (but not these words): One-Two-Three-Four | One-Two-Three And Your In! In performance we may have a musical introduction, but I'll also count it in loud and clear.

The trick in learning it is to learn what you can play well – even if it’s not every single note, memorize that, and play it strong and in time with the music. Have fun, and get comfortable so you can move around to the rhythm of the music, and so you'll be able to connect with Deborah. That’s the goal of this ensemble!



You must memorize the music: This music is quite easy and there is lots of repetition. There are MP3 playalong files, so you'll have plenty of opportunity to get comfortable with the music. It's essential that you memorize it so that you can respond to me, to each other and to the ensemble on stage.

No stands - no stools! We will play the piece without stands and without stools! That means you'll be standing when you play. If you harp is very small, then you should plan to either wear it with a strap, or kneel on the floor.

Harp Helper: You must have a designated harp helper with you at all times. Sometimes these are called "Harp Dads" or "Harp Hunks" - they can be any age or gender so long as they're calm, strong and able to help you get your harp where it needs to go.

Costuming: You can wear whatever you want, so long as it doesn't conflict with the symphony or ensemble rules. It's most fun if everyone dresses up as they would if they were a symphony soloist (which is what you are!).

Programming: The piece is usually programmed right after intermission.



Designated Harp Diva: Because I will rarely be able to rehearse with you in advance, each ensemble needs at least one "Designated Harp Diva" who will rehearse the ensemble. This can be someone of any gender or age, but it should be someone used to leading and conducting ensembles.


Harps-Alone Rehearsals: Rehearsal time with me is limited. Sometimes I'm is not able to rehearse with you at all, and sometimes I'll will try to arrange online rehearsals. That may mean you will need to learn how to use an online resource like Skype or Livestream. If I'm able to rehearse with you in person, it's likely it will be shortly before the orchestra rehearsal, in a large practice studio - and we probably won't have a lot of time, so you need to be prepared and ready to play.

Orchestral or Ensemble Rehearsals: The piece is usually rehearsed right after the first orchestra break. The time with orchestra is VERY, VERY limited. You will need to be ready to play, and it's likely we may get to go through the piece only once. You'll probably have to either leave the harps on stage at that point, and remove them after the rehearsal, or you may have to remove them quickly from the stage. That will be determined by the orchestra management.


Like any symphony soloist you'll need to contact your local paper to let them know you'll be performing. You'll also need to let all your friends know, and post it on social media. You should start doing this at least 6-weeks before the performance. The best thing to do is to write a press release, and email it to your local music reviewers and editors of your local paper with a publicity photo of you.

Here's an example of a press release you could send to your paper:



(INSERT NAME OF TOWN) Resident to perform with GRAMMY® Nominee, (INSERT NAME OF SYMPHONY)

(INSERT TOWN)'s own (INSERT PLAYER) has been specially invited to perform harp with GRAMMY®-nominated composer and recording artist Deborah Henson-Conant and the (INSERT SYMPHONY NAME) on (INSERT DAY & DATE), at (INSERT TIME) at the (INSERT THEATER-NAME) in (INSERT CITY).

(INSERT PLAYER) joins Henson-Conant and (INSERT QUANTITY OF PLAYERS) other local harpists in a unique ensemble called “The Harp-Breakers,” during Henson-Conant’s alternate-symphonic program with the (SYMPHONY NAME) featuring electric harp, voice and orchestra in a fusion of Folk-Flamenco-Latin-and-Blues.

Visiting soloist Henson-Conant is a groundbreaking musician and innovator known for widely diversifying the approach to the harp - “She’s doing for the harp what Chuck Berry and Elvis did for the guitar” says the Denver Post - and inspiring the world’s first commercially-produced carbon-fibre electric harp, named after her, the “DHC Blue Light.” She tours internationally in solo and orchestral concerts, and is known for her music special on PBS, “Invention & Alchemy.”

(SOMETHING ABOUT THE LOCAL HARP COMMUNITY, LIKE THIS: Henson-Conant has long known about the rich harp community in the Puget Sound area, developed by local teachers like Pat Wooster in Tacoma and Susi Hussong in Seattle, so when she was invited to perform with the Tacoma Symphony Orchestra, she immediately inquired about featuring local harpists in one number: her symphonic bebop “New Blues.”) “This opportunity is great for everyone,” says Henson-Conant, “For the harpists, it’s an opportunity to rehearse and perform as symphony soloists — and for the audience, a one-of-a-kind musical experience: bebop with a symphony and 9 harps!”

(NAME OF PLAYER) will be featured in this unique ensemble. (INSERT A FEW BIO NOTES/HIGHLIGHTS ABOUT THE PLAYER HERE)

Deborah Henson-Conant has shared the stage with numerous orchestras and contemporary settings, Ray Charles, Bobby McFerrin, Doc Serverinsen, and Marvin Hamlisch. She has performed with the Boston Pops, appeared on two PBS specials, and played with Aerosmith frontman/American Idol judge Steven Tyler. She is a grant awardee from National Endowment for the Arts and "Meet the Composer". She has been featured on CBS, NBC, NPR, PBS and in interviews by Scott Simon, Studs Terkel, Charlie Rose, and gossip correspondent comedienne Joan Rivers.

More about the show:

Photos courtesy of (INSERT PHOTOGRAPHER)


Here's the kind of thing they might end up writing (this was printed in a newspaper for a performance in 2011)

Buckley harpist to perform with
Grammy-nominated composer

Mar 22 2011

Buckley resident Cassie Reinbolt, a freshman at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, has been invited to perform harp with Grammy-nominated composer and recording artist Deborah Henson-Conant and the Tacoma Symphony Orchestra Saturday. The performance is set for 2:30 p.m. Sunday at the Pantages Theater in Tacoma.

Reinbolt will join Henson-Conant and eight other local harpists in a unique ensemble called “The Harp-Breakers,” during Henson-Conant’s alternate-symphonic program with the TSO featuring electric harp, voice and orchestra in a fusion of folk, flamenco, Latin and blues.

Henson-Conant tours internationally in solo and orchestral concerts, and is known for her music special on PBS, “Invention and Alchemy.”

Reinbolt, a dean’s list student at PLU, is studying for a music degree in harp performance. She performed with the Tacoma Youth Symphony 2009-10 as principal harpist and with the South Sound Strings Harp Ensemble for the past eight years. She studies with Patricia Wooster.


If you have questions, email me at, make sure you tell me what measure your question is about. I’ll try to get back to you as soon as I can (but I’m not always super-fast at responding, so remind me if I don't get back to you.)


If you right-click or option-click these links you should be able to save them to your computer - at least, that's how it works on a MAC - hopefully it works similar on PCs. Enjoy!

Sheet Music Print Back-to-Back starting with the cover page to facilitate page turns
MP3 #1  With midi instruments. This is about the tempo we'll actually play it. We may play just a touch faster. (NOTE: m. 75-82 sound different on the audio than what's written. Play what's written - but remember that you're tacet in 75-78). Don't worry about the "2nd Harp" - I was playing along during the recording - just ignore that part for now.
MP3 #2 SLOWER with midi instruments & only your part. This is slower than we'll play it, but it's great for practicing.
(Remember to leave measures 75-78 tacet even though you hear them played on the MP3)


© 2011 Deborah Henson-Conant / Golden Cage Music, Inc.