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August 28, 2009 3:12 PM   Subscribe

One Angel supplied his own. Others depended on humans.
posted by Mblue (17 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Note to self: "Harpist" is an undervalued profession in terms of attractiveness.
posted by Lacking Subtlety at 3:29 PM on August 28, 2009

Not to be confused with "harpy", which is generally unattractive.

One of the true features of anything featuring the silent Marx Brother is his brilliant harp playing. While Chico was hilarious with his piano playing (and really very talented), Harpo's stints at his instrument held me spellbound. They still do, actually.

Everyone Says I Love You (from Horse Feathers 1932)
Take Me Out To The Ball Game (from I Love Lucy 1955)
Not quite offensively racist scene from Go West (and an interesting object lesson in the non-live (dubbed) musical recordings of movies)

The kind of talent those lads had is not found in many stars today.
posted by hippybear at 4:01 PM on August 28, 2009 [2 favorites]

The history of the Harp.
posted by empath at 4:13 PM on August 28, 2009

There's a neat painting in the first clip up there of Gookie. Gookie was a real person, apparently; here's a passage from Harpo's autobiography describing him which you should really read, because it's awesome.
posted by koeselitz at 5:09 PM on August 28, 2009 [2 favorites]

Wow, I love the interwebs. I learn something new every day, and usually from MetaFilter. But I NEVER knew about Gookie before. I figured it was a name and origin lost to time. But I never in a million years imagined it was based on a real person.
posted by hippybear at 5:33 PM on August 28, 2009

No post about harpists could be complete without Zeena Parkins.

performances of Zeena Parkins on YouTube.

She is probably best known for her work with Bjork (I first saw her play with Elliot Sharp's "cyberpunk" band Carbon in 1993). She sometimes uses an electric harp with a wammy bar on it, and often uses it with custom digital effects she makes using Max/MSP.
posted by idiopath at 6:27 PM on August 28, 2009

I can't say I care too much one way or the other about those humans, but that piece Harpo played there was just stunningly beautiful. How did I make it to 46 without knowing he was a harpist?
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:11 PM on August 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

Devils Rancher: you need to just pick a weekend and sit down and watch all the Marx Brothers films. You'll discover more wonderment there than you knew existed. If you didn't know Harpo was a harpist, I'm betting you haven't seen any of them.
posted by hippybear at 8:56 PM on August 28, 2009

If anybody wants to recommend some CDs of really good harp music, preferably solo stuff, I would love that. Old fashioned stuff, like Harpo plays. I could listen to it forever.

Thanks for this post.
posted by paisley henosis at 10:16 PM on August 28, 2009

I don't know about solo harp, and it's not old fashioned, but one of my favorite CDs is Soul To The Pleasure by Ring. There are samples to be heard here or here, and apparently if you want digital files, you can buy them from here. Gorgeous harp music with etherial vocals.
posted by hippybear at 10:52 PM on August 28, 2009

Grrrr. ethereal. ethereal.
posted by hippybear at 10:56 PM on August 28, 2009

Was anyone else expecting Darling Violetta?
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:59 AM on August 29, 2009

If you didn't know Harpo was a harpist, I'm betting you haven't seen any of them.

Not in at least 20 years, anyway, which means I probably watched them when I was too stoned/drunk to remember. Unfortunately, the short people in my house seem to have rigged the TV so that it only receives Survivor Man, Sponge Bob & Mythbusters. My wife has the power to overcome this with San Antonio Spurs broadcasting during basketball season, but I have yet to figure out how.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:42 AM on August 29, 2009

Harpo Marx was one of the finest silent clowns the world has ever seen, capable of bringing audiences to tears with nothing but his own face.

Arthur Marx was a world-class classical and jazz harpist.

Somehow, both of these men existed in the same body.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:56 AM on August 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

My hometown is the reason Harpo stopped talking on stage! Go C-U!
posted by Kronos_to_Earth at 8:18 AM on August 29, 2009

I can't believe nobody's mentioned Joanna Newsom yet in this thread! Her voice is unique and highly variable... on an off day you might wish she were mute, but I think she's brilliant. She's certainly the only harpist out there who sings about catenaries and dirigibles.

Here are a few choice clips for those who don't know her:
Bridges and Balloons
Peach Plum Pear
Only Skin
Emily (part 1)
Emily (part 2)
The Book of Right On
posted by otherthings_ at 10:18 AM on August 30, 2009

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