April 18, 2009

Harpo playing harp in Go West

Harpo Marx taught himself to play because he could not sing, or dance, and did not talk very well, so he needed something to do. Al Shean sent him a harp (in Harpo's autobiography, he says that mother Minnie Marx sent him the harp). Harpo learned how to hold it properly by going to a five-and-dime store where he found a picture of a girl playing a harp. No one in town knew how to play the harp, so Harpo tuned it as best he could, starting with one basic note and tuning it from there. Three years later he found out he had tuned it incorrectly, but he could not have tuned it properly; if he had, the strings would have broken each night. Harpo's method placed much less tension on the strings. Although he played this way for the rest of his life, he did try to learn how to play correctly, and he spent considerable money hiring the best teachers. They, however, spent their time listening to him, fascinated by the way he played. In the movies he played the harp with his own tuning. (source)

Go West (1940)


Krista said...

What a swell clip!
I've always liked Harpo whenever I catch him somewhere but, I had not researched him as I am wont to do with so many of my favorites.
Thanks for throwing these tidbits out here!

I love your blog, by the way. We have similar interests. :)

Chris said...

I thought how he "tuned" it at the beginning was pretty cool. And I think doing that actually did change the sound and tuning of whatever kind of harp it was.

I'm glad you like the blog. I've perused your blog, as well. You do a very good job. That's one of the things about blogging, that you tend to find like-minded people. Birds of a feather...

Krista said...

Oh, I'm sure it did. It just goes to show, there's no right or wrong way to everything.

Thank you, its slow going but, basically, its just a little place for me to make a record of things that make me smile so I can come back to it whenever I need a picker upper. If folks have something to say, that's just an added bonus. :)