Gotham Harp Publishing

Gotham Harp Publishing is a harp music publishing company featuring quality transcriptions of early music and original works by contemporary composers, founded by Laura Sherman in 2012 in New York City.

 • Available in May, two solo works for harp by Queens, New York composer Joel Mandelbaum, his Diatonic Study Chromatic Study. Written for me in 1990. Intermediate level. Will post a recording of me performing these unique works soon. 

 • New from GHP: Victoria Drake's edition of J.S. Bach's complete Cello Suites in two volumes. (Intermediate to advanced, pedal harp). Available now from the GHP Store.

 • New from GHP: Susan Jolles' edition of Handel's Concerto in Bb Major, with an original cadenza. (Intermediate to advanced, pedal harp). Available now from the GHP Store.

• New from GHP: a collection of Preludes and Fugues from J.S. Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier, transcribed and edited by Laura Sherman. (Intermediate to advanced, pedal harp). Available now from the GHP Store. 

• New from GHP: Rameau's Pieces de clavecin (Pieces for harpsichord), transcribed and edited by Susan Jolles. Five gorgeous, fun to play pieces originally published in 1724 and 1731 (Intermediate to advanced pedal harp). Available now from the GHP store.

 • New from GHP: Reverie for solo harp, by the UK composer, Stephen Burtonwood. A beautiful, tonal work written in 2011 (Intermediate pedal harp). Available now from the GHP store. 

 • Currently available in the GHP Store are critical performance editions of Johann Sebastian Bach’s five Lute Suites, transcribed and edited by Laura Sherman. The Bach Lute Suites are available as separate editions, with critical notes, commentary and ornament suggestions particular to each work included. Please note the BWV number when ordering, and make sure to specify which transposition you would like with BWV 1006a (Db Major or Eb Major). See below for more information about these editions and a brief description of each.

 • Also available in the GHP Store is an original solo harp piece composed by Torrie Zito, entitled Concert Etude. Written in 1980 for Gloria Agostini, Concert Etude is perfect as a recital opener or encore. With subtle, jazz-influenced harmonies and classic harp arpeggiations, its effect is fresh and exciting. A recording of Gloria Agostini performing this gem will be posted here soon.

• Also available at the GHP Store are felt glissando picks. With a unique square shape and thicker width, these picks are easier on the hands and strings and create a very natural sound. They are long lasting, won't hurt the strings, and only available here. (I’ve been using the same pair of felt picks for ten years at the Broadway show “Wicked” and they’re still going strong! They're also used in orchestras & recording studios in New York & London, as well as other Broadway pits in New York.) Free shipping on all picks!

About the J.S. Bach critical performance editions his five Lute Suites: 

Johann Sebastian Bach's five Lute Suites are currently available, all transcribed and edited by Laura Sherman:

  • Suite in G Minor, BWV 995
  • Suite in E Minor, BWV 996
  • Suite in C Minor, BWV 997
  • Prelude, Fugue and Allegro in Eb Major, BWV 998
  • Suite in E Major, BWV 1006a, transposed to Db Major
  • Suite in E Major, BWV 1006a, transposed to Eb Major

These editions for harp are based on the Bach Gesellschaft Ausgabe (BGA) and the Neue Bach Ausgabe (NBA) urtext editions, and have been transcribed and edited to reflect the superior scholarship of these two collections. (While the NBA largely supersedes the BGA, I often preferred the BGA's approach to stemming, finding that it more accurately reflected Bach's contrapuntal lines.) 

The only significant change from the original sources is the transposition of BWV 1006a from E Major (which did not work well on the harp) to one version in Db Major and another in Eb Major. I prefer the open, sonorous quality of the Db Major version, but others may prefer the Eb Major version since it is closer to the original key of E Major. Harp specific additions include all pedal changes, some fingerings, extensive muffling suggestions (for contrapuntal clarity), and ornament suggestions. An extensive bibliography is also included for more information.

Can’t decide which Bach Lute Suite you’d like to learn first? Here’s more about each:

  • Suite in G Minor, BWV 995 is a good one to start with. Based on Bach’s version for cello, it is less contrapuntal than the other Suites. The variety in the dance movements is fun and the Sarabande is my absolute favorite of the Suites.
  • Suite in E Minor, BWV 996 includes a wonderfully challenging opening movement (a toccata-like beginning followed by a fugal second section) and several lyrical dance movements. The Sarabande is gorgeous and the Bourée quite famous. 
  • Suite in C Minor, BWV 997 is a true masterpiece. With its rare, da-capo Fugue, a glorious Sarabande, and two versions of the concluding Double movement (in different registers), this work is richly rewarding.
  • Prelude, Fugue and Allegro, BWV 998 is also a good one to begin with. The arpeggios in the first movement are perfect for the harp and the second movement Fugue is thrilling to play. The Allegro is especially fun because of the tempo and the chance to experiment with playing on different areas of the strings (not just pdlt), especially during the repeats.
  • Suite in E Major, BWV 1006a works extremely well on the harp, in either the Db Major or Eb Major transpositions. Perhaps the most well-known of the Lute Suites, it has a gorgeous, sonorous opening movement and numerous distinctive dance movements. I prefer the Db Major version, because of all of the open strings (only C natural and F natural are “stopped” by the discs), but others may prefer the Eb Major version since it is closer to the original key of E Major.

Sample Preface (from BWV 995):

This critical performance transcription for harp of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Suite in G Minor, BWV 995, originally written for the lute, is not an arrangement. It remains as faithful as possible to Bach’s autograph and other scholarly sources, while balancing the necessary requirements for an idiomatic translation to the harp. My goal was to produce an edition that is at once responsible and inspiring for advanced harp students, teachers, and professionals. I also hope that it may serve as an introduction to important stylistic and historical aspects of Bach’s music, and perhaps serve as a resource for harpists wanting to make their own transcriptions of Bach’s music.

Though Bach did not write for the harp, nor did the double-action pedal harp exist during his lifetime, much of his music written for other solo instruments works well on today’s pedal harp. This is especially true of his solo lute works, since lute and harp are both plucked stringed instruments and are equally capable of performing contrapuntal lines. Bach frequently transcribed his own works for different instruments, as was common practice during the time. For example, two of the Lute Suites also exist in versions for other instruments: BWV 995 is an arrangement by Bach of his Suite No. 5 in C Minor for unaccompanied Cello, BWV 1011; and BWV 1006a is his arrangement of the Partita No. 3 in E Major for solo Violin, BWV 1006.

In preparing this transcription, one significant difference between the lute and the harp required constant attention: The harp’s persistent resonance, created by the sympathetic vibrations of the lower, unplayed strings, can easily mask or blur contrapuntal lines. To restore clarity, I have provided detailed suggestions for muffling, including full hand and single- and double-fingered muffling techniques. These, along with fingerings that facilitate proper articulation and phrasing, will help bring out the contrapuntal lines. Original stemming of the notes is also frequently included as a guide. 

Bach’s music requires a much different interpretive approach than traditional nineteenth-century pedal harp music. While music from the “Romantic” period is harmonic (or vertical) in nature, driven by chord progressions and cadences, Bach’s music and that of other composers during the Baroque period is essentially contrapuntal (or linear). It is the counterpoint in the form of multiple melodic lines, rather than the resultant chords, that creates the structure of the piece. By clearly articulating and shaping the contrapuntal lines in this music, a harpist will be closest in spirit to performances during Bach’s time.

This edition is the result of consultations with various Bach and Baroque music scholars and performers, as well as twenty years of personal scholarship and performance. The initial versions of the five Lute Suites, were part of my doctoral dissertation from the University of Michigan. I have made every effort to help enable Bach’s music to “sing on the page,” and hope harpists might find it as thrilling to play as I do.

About Laura's Bach training:

Laura studied with Bach scholar and performer Rosalyn Tureck while she was a visiting professor at Yale University and at her Tureck Bach Research Institute in Oxford, England. While there, Laura also studied Baroque Performance Practice at Oxford University's Bodleian Library. This work became the basis for her doctoral dissertation at the University of Michigan, where she prepared these six editions and performed them in three dissertation recitals, coupled with significant 20th-century solo harp works. Subsequently, Laura has continued researching Bach and Baroque performance practice issues, and has consulted with several additional scholars in the field.

Whether performing Bach's music on the harp or creating your own transcriptions of his music, it is important to have a basic understanding of such performance practice issues as ornaments, phrasing, contrapuntal clarity and tempi. Laura’s "Bach Basics for Harp" is a summary of useful skills and resources that she collected while doing research for her own critical performance editions of Bach's "Lute Suites." She enjoys sharing this information while teaching privately, at Hunter College in Manhattan, and in master classes at colleges and universities around the country. For a summary of her recent lecture-master class on this topic at the American Harp Society’s 2012 Conference in New York City, including an extensive bibliography, click here.