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Adam Miller | Bare Fingers - The Solo Autoharp Artistry of Adam Miller

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Bare Fingers - The Solo Autoharp Artistry of Adam Miller

by Adam Miller

Stunningly beautiful solo performances by America's premier autoharp virtuoso. The San Francisco folknik describes Miller’s autoharp playing as, “…superb and imaginative.” Maine Public Radio has called him, “…a master of the autoharp.”
Genre: Folk: Traditional Folk
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Living in the Country
2:47 $0.99
2. Miss Rowan Davies
2:56 $0.99
3. Goodbye Liza Jane
2:06 $0.99
4. I Will
2:42 $0.99
5. Fortune
1:20 $0.99
6. Polly Swallow
3:07 $0.99
7. The Minstrel Boy
2:08 $0.99
8. The Yellow Rose of Texas
1:30 $0.99
9. Pine Apple Rag
3:57 $0.99
10. Over the Rainbow
2:04 $0.99
11. Planxty John Irwin
3:39 $0.99
12. Barlow Knife
1:46 $0.99
13. Oh, What a Beautiful Morning
1:44 $0.99
14. Planxty George Brabazon (2nd Air)
3:00 $0.99
15. The Red Haired Boy
1:59 $0.99
16. America the Beautiful
1:33 $0.99
17. The Modest & Pleasant Eileen O'Farrell
2:59 $0.99
18. St. Anne's Reel
3:48 $0.99
19. Planxty Fanny Power
3:43 $0.99
20. Marching Through Georgia
1:56 $0.99
21. Nelly Bly
1:51 $0.99
22. Coleman's March
1:57 $0.99
23. Blind Mary
3:31 $0.99
24. Maria
2:09 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Bare Fingers
The Solo Autoharp Artistry of Adam Miller
Folksinging.org FS 1004

The autoharp (or chorded zither) was invented in the early 1880’s by an instrument builder named Karl A. Gutter (1823-1900), in Markneukirchen, Germany. It became one of the best selling instruments in the United States in the 1890s.

The autoharp has 36 (or 37) strings made out of copper, steel and brass. When you play them all at the same time, it isn’t very musical. But when you depress one the many different chord bars, the felts attached to the chord bar stop all of the strings from ringing - - except for the three or four notes you need to make the given chord. Most people play the instrument with metal or plastic fingerpicks. Instead of picks, I prefer to play it with my fingernails.

Many years ago a friend allowed me to borrow his Sears Silvertone autoharp over the winter holidays. In the ensuing years I spent as much time as possible attending autoharp workshops and festivals. These experiences brought me into contact with some of the greatest living autoharp luthiers, players, and teachers, and I am deeply indebted to them for their inspiration, generosity, and support.

I was fortunate to discover the autoharp at a time of genuine Autoharp Renaissance. Today, Autoharp Quarterly Magazine has over 2,400 subscribers worldwide, there are several well-established autoharp festivals on both coasts, and many excellent luthiers are producing exceptional autoharps.

As a twenty-first century troubadour, it is my privilege to introduce audiences from the Everglades to the Arctic Circle, to the unique and inspiring sound of the autoharp. The instrument makes friends wherever it goes, and I feel that I’m fortunate to be the guy sitting behind it.

-Adam Miller
February 15, 2008

Biography of Adam Miller
Legendary Folksinger, Storyteller and Autoharp Virtuoso

Adam Miller is one of the premier autoharpists in the world and a natural-born American folksinger and storyteller. He is renowned for his extensive repertoire of over 2,500 traditional and contemporary folksongs. His highly entertaining performances at festivals and concert halls across the United States have won him fans of all ages. A masterful entertainer who never fails to get his audience singing along, he has distinguished himself as one of the great interpreters of American folktales and folksongs.

"Along Came a Giant - Traditional American Folk Songs for Young Folks" is both educational and entertaining, featuring sing-along folk songs arranged with traditional American acoustic instruments (autoharp, guitar, banjo, mandolin, concertina, and bass), as well as highly informative and detailed liner notes about the history of each song.

Miller is a familiar face to hundreds of thousands of parents and children who have attended his acclaimed “Singing Through History” folk music programs. These programs aid in the development of cultural and historical literacy, emphasizing the importance of history as a story well told.

A native of Northern California, Adam grew up a few blocks from historic Cannery Row on the Monterey Bay. As a child he listened to the recordings of Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Oscar Brand, Cisco Houston, Marais and Miranda, and the Weavers.

When he was eleven years old, his parents took him to hear folksinger Sam Hinton perform at the Grange Hall in Big Sur. He credits Hinton as his mentor and his greatest inspiration. Hinton says of Miller, "Since I've stopped performing, I've thought more and more highly of you and your work, and I feel that the traditions I have followed are in good hands."

A nationally recognized presenter of folklore and folk music programs, Adam has been a featured performer, master of ceremonies and workshop leader at many American folk festivals. He is a captivating storyteller and gifted instrumentalist, and is recognized for his ability to interpret traditional American folksongs with warmth, humor and remarkable scholarship.

Miller performs nearly 300 concerts a year at folk festivals, theaters, schools, libraries, and museums, from the Everglades to the Arctic Circle.

He accompanies his baritone voice with lively fingerpicking acoustic guitar, and stunningly beautiful diatonic and chromatic autoharp, using only his fingernails for picks. (His custom-built autoharps are manufactured by Fladmark Woodworks, Orthey Instruments and the Oscar Schmidt Company.)

Miller has recorded four CDs. His albums receive airplay all over North America and Europe.

Frank Hamilton, a former member of The Weavers, is a fan of Miller’s work. “You are doing a real service for folk music,” says Hamilton. George Winston calls Miller, “one of the great autoharpists and folksingers of our times.” The San Francisco folknik describes Miller’s autoharp playing as, “…superb and imaginative.” Maine Public Radio has called him, “…a master of the autoharp.”



to write a review

Autoharp Quarterly

Just Gorgeous
“It’s just gorgeous … clear melody, lovely bass arrangement… flawless…\"

David Van Syoc

He does things I've never heard before...
I own another of his albums and his playing and musicianship was top shelf, impeccable and very musical. THIS album takes it up a couple of notches. Simply put, Adam Miller shows even the best autoharpists brand new things. This is an important album for anybody wanting to learn what the autoharp can accomplish.

May 2011 San Francisco folknik

Fresh To The Ear
You will enjoy this collection of familiar tunes whatever instrument you play, but it is a “must-have” for autoharp players, as it embodies the standard autoharp repertoire. If you think you have heard these tunes played often enough, think again. You haven’t heard them like Adam presents them. His arrangements are original, varied in picking style, and fresh to the ear. And this album is a real bargain as it is packed with twenty-four solos.
Adam plays several types and makes of autoharps. Each of their voices is shown to good advantage. You can distinctly hear the differences in tone as he alternates them after each tune. This adds variety for the listener. Can you guess which harp he is playing—Orthey, Fladmark or Oscar Schmidt? The liner notes do not give it away, although the cover picture shows an older Oscar Schmidt “Wildwood Flower,” with its handsome design by Ivan Stiles.
Although most of the tunes on this album are traditional, Adam shows his versatility with “Maria” from West Side Story, “Pine Apple Rag” by Scott Joplin, and “Living in the Country” by Pete Seeger. His selections roam from O’Carolan to Sondheim, and he presents them all well.
How did he fit so many tunes on one CD? He plays those fiddle tunes at breakneck speed, mimicking the sound of a mandolin. As the title notes, Adam is playing bare-fingered in a flat-picking style with his fingernails! On the O’Carolan pieces, his bare finger touch is gentle and expressive.
Just to mention a few of the cuts that were exceptional to me: “I Will” by Paul McCartney is charming with its syncopated rhythm and open chording. “Polly Swallow” is played with great feeling and melody variations. In “Planxty John Irwin” one can almost see the character of Colonel Irwin. The playing is somber, strong and stately. My favorite tune is “The Modest and Pleasant Eileen O’Farrell” or “The Charming Fair Eily.” This is a very old tune, but a new one to me. The title describes it perfectly—a lovely melody with little embellishment. You will like those fast fiddle tunes as well.
The liner notes include little-known details of the tunes’ origins. Adam also shares where he learned the tunes and the influences of other musicians on his choices. With this excellent recording, Adam “has done himself proud.”