ABOUT HARMS HISTORICAL PERCUSSION
Harms Historical Percussion was started in 1989 by Ben Harms (see
biography below) with the goal of providing high-quality "historically
informed" instruments to the early music field at a reasonable cost. It turned out
that many of the "historical" instruments (e.g., the tabors and hand drums) have
changed so little over the past 500 years that they are just as suitable for modern folk
musicians and "classical" percussionists.
All Harms Historical Percussion instruments are "membranophones"
- that is, they have skins. Other percussion instruments such as bells, chimes, finger
cymbals, wood blocks, etc., are not available.
Harms Historical Percussion is still today as it began -- as a one-person shop. Ben
Harms creates all the designs and specifications, and does all the shop work. Harms
Historical Percussion ships instruments internationally and those instruments can now be
found on all continents.
Ben Harms studied at University of Cincinnati (liberal arts major), Curtis
Institute (percussion performance with Fred Hinger), and City University of New
York (musicology). His performing career as a percussionist has ranged from
playing medieval, renaissance, and baroque music with prominent early music groups
including Calliope, premiering
works of the composers Steve Reich, Olivier Messaien and others, to the Metropolitan Opera
Orchestra (since 1968).
Along the way he has played in venues as varied as Cincinnatis Gaiety Burlesque
House (1962-1963), the Hamburg Staatsoper, St. Patricks Cathedral, every
major concert hall in New York City and most other concert halls on the East Coast. A
short list of additional credits includes Leningrad Philharmonic's United States tour
(1976), Canadian Brass, Bill Ochs pennywhistle tutor, numerous television and film
soundtracks, and folk and classical chamber ensembles. Recording credits include
performances on all major labels.
In addition to playing the standard western percussion instruments from the medieval
period to the present, Mr. Harms has studied Arabic music and hand drumming and North
Indian tabla playing. He held a one-year Fulbright fellowship in musicology at Hamburg,
As a member of Calliope, Mr.
Harms has developed and maintained skills on other instrument families. He has performed
as a recorder player in two Metropolitan Opera productions and plays viola da gamba in
annual performances of Bachs Brandenburg Concertos presented by the Berkshire Bach