FAQs

  • What is a clarsach?

The clarsach (Scottish Gaelic clàrsach) is the Scottish small harp.  It is a lever harp, using levers to make semitone alterations to facilitate key changes (in contrast to the classical pedal harp, which uses pedals for the same purpose).  Find out more about the history of this magical instrument here.

  • How do I get hold of one?

The clarsach really is a magical instrument (we’re not just saying that!), and hugely rewarding to learn: for a start, it’s impossible to make a nasty noise on it!  The first step is to get hold of an instrument: The Clarsach Society offers its members very reasonably-priced harp hire; of if you’d prefer to own one outright, you can look at the current list of harps for sale (please note: The Clarsach Society advertises harps for sale on behalf of private vendors: all transactions are made with these vendors directly).

  • How do I learn to play it?

There are teachers of the clarsach all over the country: but perhaps a good place to start is our Tutors in your area page.  Note that this is not a list of tutors recommended by The Society: any tutor can request to be added to the list.  You can also get in touch with our Branches for local advice.

  • Where can I buy sheet music?

The Clarsach Society has led the field in publishing sheet music for the clarsach over the years.  You can view our catalogue of Folios, some of which you can purchase from the National Office.  Or head straight to our sales agent Creighton’s Collection for a more comprehensive selection.

  • How do I join The Clarsach Society?

You can now join The Society easily online.  Visit our membership page for full details.

  • What’s the history of The Society?

The Clarsach Society has a rich and fascinating history.  You can read something about its beginnings here: but if you want the full story, Stuart Eydmann’s readable and lavishly illustrated In Good Hands: The Clarsach Society and the Renaissance of the Scottish Harp is highly recommended.  You can purchase it here.

  • Who’s Who in The Society?

The Society is run by a team of hugely experienced and knowledgeable volunteers, nearly all of whom play the clarsach either professionally or for fun.  You can see a full list of the current office bearers here.

The Society also has two part-time members of staff – Glenn Robinson (office manager) and Toby Hawks (administrator) – who, under normal circumstances, work out of The Society’s office at Out of the Blue Drill Hall in Leith, Edinburgh. 

Owing to the ongoing coronavirus situation, The Society’s national office is not currently open to visitors; but you can contact Glenn and Toby here.

  • Where can I read The Society’s Annual Report?

The Clarsach Society publishes its Annual Report retrospectively each year in the autumn.  You can view the 2018-19 Annual Report here.  If you want to consult a previous year’s report, please contact us.

  • What’s The Society’s link to the Royal National Mòd?

The Clarsach Society was founded at the close of the Mòd held at Dingwall in 1931, so their histories are inextricably entwined.

Find out more about The Society’s links to the Royal National Mòd or visit the Mòd’s own website.

  • What and when is the Edinburgh International Harp Festival?

The Edinburgh International Harp Festival (or EIHF for short) is  is the UK’s premier harping event: an annual celebration and gathering of musical talents from the global harp community, and The Society’s flagship event.

The EIHF takes place in early April each year at (until 2020) Merchiston Castle School in Edinburgh, Scotland.  In 2020, with the constraints posed by the coronavirus pandemic, we were unable to hold a physical Festival at Merchiston and the EIHF 2020 went online to become the VEIHF.

The 2021 Festival – celebrating 40 years of the Festival and 90 years of The Clarsach Society – is due to take place 9-14 2021.  Check the Festival’s website for up-to-date information.

  • What bursaries or support does The Society offer?

The Society’s avowed aim is to “to promote, encourage and develop the playing of the clarsach, nationally and internationally, through tuition, performance and publication”.

Each year, The Clarsach Society offers a scholarship award to encourage promising players at any level who have limited resources, financial or otherwise.

Find out more about the Scholarship Award.

  • What is the Iain Macleòid Young Composer Award and how do I apply?

The Iain Macleòid Young Composer Award is an annual competition named in memory of John Macleod.

Composers aged between 16 & 25 years of age are invited to submit an original piece of music lasting no longer than 10, and no less than 8 minutes, suitable for either solo clarsach or clarsach and up to 3 other instruments and/or voices.

The award is £500 plus a premiere performance at the Edinburgh International Harp Festival.

Find out more about the Iain Macleòid Young Composer Award.

  • How do I contact The Society?

You can find the full contact details of The Clarsach Society on our Contact Us page.

Next page: About The Clarsach Society