As an instrument of beauty in both sound and looks, the harp not only looks elegant and catches the eye of everyone around, but also sounds wonderful even from the first notes plucked. The two main types of harps are the lever harp and the pedal harp. The lever harp is played only with the hands while the pedal harp has seven pedals so that you can play the instrument with hands and feet.
Harpist and singer-songwriter Nush Lewis from Mumbai has been playing the harp for a while now. Your heart will melt when you see her sitting angelically behind the world’s most glamorous instrument producing the most exquisite sounds.
VERUS FERREIRA spoke with 32-year-old Anushka Lewis, better-known as Nush Lewis, to know more about her music and the instrument she plays.
You were born and raised in Kuwait and later moved to India. Tell us something about your growing-up years.
Well, I grew up with music-loving parents and an older sister. Music was something that we were always connected through. Maybe because I was born outside India, the music that I was exposed to was a good amalgam of genres from traditional Arabic music to western pop music on the radio; our home had a mix of old western retro music clubbed with old Bollywood. From Kuwait, I moved to Abu Dhabi with my family to complete my schooling and then to Bangalore to do my degree in Media, Literature and Psychology.
From Bangalore, I guess you moved to Chennai.
Moving to Chennai was a last-minute decision. Initially, I thought I would get into film-making, and do music on the side. It was only after I finished my degree that I realized that I wanted to take up music professionally. So I floated the idea with my parents that I wanted to do Music Production, purely because it sounded like it made more money. They were very supportive and so I enrolled in the KM Music Conservatory in Chennai as a vocal major.
How did you get into playing the harp and making it the instrument that would define your future?
During the first couple of weeks at KM, the past batch was going to graduate and had their graduation ceremony. At the ceremony, our music theory teacher, Alison Maggart, performed. That was the first time I saw anyone perform on the harp. The instrument is quite magnificent and has pedals and different coloured strings. That’s what got me curious. I wanted to know how it worked, as it sounded gorgeous. So I requested her to do a trial class with me knowing well that I would never commit. But there was something about that first class where I learnt to place my fingers on the strings and pluck four notes. At the time the vocal programme was not going in my favour. So there was a certain kind of peace I felt when I was in my harp class with Ms Alison. The trial class led to another and to another and before I knew it, I was practising the harp more than my vocals. That was the turning point. I ended up switching majors and the rest is history.