Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 17th 2014 Contents B38
Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt August 17, 2014
Word, Sound and Colour by Ozy
Merrique. Martin's Piano Bar, 85
Woodford Street, Port-of-Spain.
Until September 6.
More info: 622-6405 or e-mail
Eddie Bowen art sale at the
Studio Annexe, Syndenham
Avenue, St Ann's, until month-end.
More info: 735 3750 or e-mail
6.30 pm: For the Love of Dance 2,
a fund raising show for dancer/
choreographer Juan-Pablo Alba
Dennis. Little Carib Theatre,
Woodbrook, Port-of-Spain. More
7 pm: AMMBcon 2014 Showcase
for musical artistes. Adam Smith
Square, Ariapita Avenue, Port-of-
Spain. Until August 22.
More info: www.ammbcon.com
9 pm: More Love: The Opening of
the BIG BLACK BOX, featuring
3Canal, The Big Love Squad and
The PappyShow Possee. Until
August 31. 33 Murray Street,
Woodbrook. More info: 623-7411
8 pm: PASSIONE---A Night of
Music and Romance. Featuring
classical/ pop fusion all-male
quartet Andre Mangatal, Neval
Chatelal, Marvin Smith and
Stephan Furlonge, and others.
Central Bank Auditorium, St
Vincent Street, Port-of-Spain.
More info: 751-2479 or e-mail
David Singh s love affair with the harp
began when the then 19-year-old s gas station
boss visited Venezuela one Christmas and
returned with LP records.
After listening to one of the albums, Singh
He thought, "This is a harp?" he recalled
in an interview at his home last month. "And
this is what nice music coming from this
thing? When I watched the album and I saw
this wooden harp, I say, But I could build one
of this! "
Singh had recently learned joinery and
decided then and there to put his woodworking
skills to use.
His first harps were miniature desk and wall
models, built from scrap wood from a nearby
joinery. He would display his miniatures at
various craft and folk fairs, but soon moved
up to full-sized models.
"What you doing with those small ones?"
he recalled saying to himself: "Try and make
some bigger ones!...And I start to average my
sizes of harps. I built one with about 17 strings
and I tuned it to the piano."
Forty-five years later, Singh has made five
playable harps, one of which is now in Aus-
tralia. Another of his miniatures is in a British
museum. His Arima home has a small studio
where he repairs and maintains his harps;
Singh reminisced on the days when he had
to measure and cut everything with hand tools,
having to use nylon cuatro strings for the
While there is a tradition of handmade string
instruments and a small community of harpists
in T&T, as far as Singh knows, he is the only
harp-maker. While he would be interested in
passing on the craft, he has yet to find an
apprentice who would stick around, thanks
to his odd working hours. In the three months
it would take him to build an instrument,
most would-be apprentices would have already
come and gone.
Now he s trying to get some publicity from
the National Library in the form of a photo
exhibit: "Children could come and learn that
there was someone who built harps here."
Though Singh no longer makes new harps,
he is still an active performer. Growing up in
St Joseph he learned to play the pan, preferring
the tenor, he said, and credits his time as a
parandero for getting rid of his stage fright.
"I learned to play the cuatro and there I get
brave. I was so shy! To go on a stage with the
parang group, I was playing box bass down
in the back and I was hiding. Until I start to
play cuatro, then I start to move forward. I
could play for the whole audience now!" he
said with a chuckle.
But above all, the harp is his passion.
Singh recalls meeting music legend John
Lennon in the early 70s when Lennon visited
an arts and crafts exhibition at the old Eastern
Market on Nelson Street, Port-of-Spain.
"He shake my hand and ask me if I could
play something there," said Singh. "So I just
run my hand on it---I couldn t play a whole
tune---and he said, You keep on. One of these
days you ll be a big star.
"I used to play those back-in-times folk
songs like There s a Brown Girl in the Ring
and Christmas tunes like Jingle Bells, all these
little things. I keep doing those things until
I could do things on my own," Singh explained.
"So I learned to play the harp by myself."
In 2006 he released a ten-track CD, Amantes
del Arpa (Spanish for Lover of the Harp), half
of which he composed himself. The rest are
Latin jazz favourites like South of the Border
and Something Stupid. His sound is rooted
in Latin music, both jazz and parang.
Now he performs with Wayne Flores and
Denni Affonso under the moniker David and
Friends, shifting his focus from parang in the
last 20 years.
"I am happy with what I am doing. I am
glad I taught myself to play. I composed my
own music. I am very proud of myself."
Harpist and instrument maker David Singh drills holes into the neck of a new harp that he is creating. PHOTO: DARREN RAMPERSAD
Making the music he loves
I am happy with what I am
doing. I am glad I taught
myself to play. I composed
my own music. I am very
proud of myself.
Links Archive August 16th 2014 Remembering World Wars 1-2 Navigation Previous Page Next Page