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Harp
Harp.png
A medieval harp (left) and modern pedal harp
String instrument
Hornbostel-Sachs classification 322-5
(Composite chordophone sounded by the bare fingers)
Developed Antiquity
Playing range
Range of harp.JPG
(modern pedal harp)[1]
Related instruments

A harp is a stringed instrument which has the plane of its strings positioned perpendicular to the soundboard. It is classified as a chordophone by the Harvard Dictionary of Music and only types of harps are in that class of instruments with plucked strings. All harps have a neck, resonator, and strings. Some, known as frame harps, also have a forepillar; those lacking the forepillar are referred to as open harps. Depending on its size (which varies considerably), a harp may be played while held in the lap or while it stands on the floor. Harp strings are made of nylon, gut, wire, or silk on certain instruments. A person who plays the harp is called a harpist or harper. Folk musicians often use the term "harper", whereas classical musicians use "harpist".[citation needed]

Various types of harps are found in Africa, Europe, North, and South America, and in Asia. In antiquity, harps and the closely related lyres were very prominent in nearly all cultures. The oldest harps found thus far have been uncovered in ruins from ancient Sumer. The harp also predominant in the hands of medieval bards, troubadors and minnesingers, as well as throughout the Spanish Empire. Harps continued to grow in popularity through improvements in their design and construction through the beginning of the twentieth century.

The aeolian harp (wind harp), the autoharp, and all forms of the lyre and Kithara are not harps because their strings are not perpendicular to the soundboard; they are part of the zither family of instruments along with the piano and harpsichord. In blues music, the harmonica is called a "Blues harp" or "harp", but it is a free reed wind instrument, not a stringed instrument, and is therefore not an actual harp.[citation needed]

Contents

Origins

An ancient Egyptian harp on display in the British Museum.

Harps were most likely independently invented in many parts of the world in remote prehistory. It is self-evident that the harp's origins may lie in the sound of a plucked hunter's bow string or the strings of a loom.[citation needed]

A type of harp called a 'bow harp' is nothing more than a bow like a hunter's, with a resonating vessel such as a gourd fixed somewhere along its length. To allow a greater number of strings, harps were later made from two pieces of wood attached at the ends: this type is known as the 'angle harp'.[citation needed]

The oldest depictions of harps without a forepillar are from 4000 BC in Egypt[citation needed](see Music of Egypt) and 3000 BC in Persia (see Music of Iran).[citation needed] While most English translations of the Bible feature the word 'harp', especially in connection with King David, the Hebrew word is nevel, a type of lyre with 10 strings and not a harp at all. The Hebrew word for one kind of harp is kinnor. Other ancient names for harps include magadis and sambuka. The kanun is a descendant of the ancient Egyptian harp and was introduced to Europe by the Moors during the Middle Ages.[2]

Structure and mechanism

Harps are roughly triangular and are usually made primarily of wood. The lower ends of the strings are fastened to the inside of the sounding-board, which is the outer surface of the resonating cavity. The body is hollow and resonates, projecting sound both toward the player through openings, and outward through the highly flexible sounding board. The crossbar, or neck, contains the mechanism or levers which determine the pitch alteration (sharps and flats) for each string. The upper ends of the strings are attached to pins in holes drilled through the neck. The longest side, the column, encloses the rods controlling the mechanism of a pedal harp. At the base are seven pedals, which activate the rods when they are downwardly pressed. The modern sophisticated instrument spanning 6½ octaves in virtually all keys was perfected by the 19th-century French maker Sébastien Érard.[citation needed]

Lever harps do not have pedals or rods. Instead they use a shortening lever on the neck for each individual string which must be activated manually in order to shorten the string and raise the tone a half step. Thus, a string tuned to natural may be played in sharp, but not flat. A string tuned to flat may be played in natural, but not sharp. Lever harps are considerably lighter in weight than pedal harps and are smaller in size and number of strings. Lever harps are popular for playing folk music and are most commonly called folk harps.[citation needed]

The harp lute or dital harp adapts the lever tuning system to a fretted instrument in the lute or guitar family.[citation needed]

Development and history in Europe

A medieval European harp (the Wartburg harp) with buzzing bray pins.

Angle harps and bow harps continue to be used up to the present day. In Europe, however, a further development took place: adding a third structural member, the pillar, to support the far ends of the arch and sound box. The 'Triangular Frame harp' is depicted in manuscripts and sculpture from about the 8th century AD, especially in North-West Europe, although specific nationalistic claims to the invention of the triangular frame harp cannot be substantiated.[citation needed] The graceful curve of the harp's neck is a result of the proportional shortening of the basic triangular form so that the strings are equidistant. If the strings were proportionately distanced, the strings would be farther and farther apart.

European harps in medieval and Renaissance times usually had a bray pin fitted to make a buzzing sound when a string was plucked. By the baroque period, in Italy and Spain, more strings were added to allow for chromatic notes; these were usually in a second line of strings. At the same time single-row diatonic harps continued to be played.[citation needed]

The first primitive form of pedal harps were developed in the Tyrol region of Austria. Hochbrucker was the next to design an improved pedal mechanism, followed in succession by Krumpholtz, Nadermann, and the Erard company, who came up with the double mechanism. In Germany in the second half of the 17th century, diatonic single-row harps were fitted with manually-turned hooks which fretted individual strings to raise their pitch by a half step. In the 1700s, a link mechanism was developed connecting these hooks with pedals, leading to the invention of the single-action pedal harp. Later, a second row of hooks was installed along the neck to allow for the double-action pedal harp, capable of raising the pitch of a string by either one or two half steps. The idea was even extended to triple-action harps, but these were never common. The double-action pedal harp remains the normal form of the instrument in the Western classical orchestra. There was a chromatic harp developed in the late 19th century that only found a small number of proponents, and was mainly taught in Belgium.[citation needed]

Latin America

In Latin America, harps are widely but sparsely distributed, except in certain regions where the harp traditions are very strong. Such important centers include Mexico, Andes, Colombia, Venezuela, and Paraguay. They are derived from the Baroque harps that were brought from Spain during the colonial period.[citation needed]

Detailed features vary from place to place. Paraguayan harps and harp music have gained a worldwide reputation, with international influences alongside folk traditions. Mexican "jarocha" harp music of Veracruz has also gained some international recognition, evident in the popularity of "la bamba". In southern Mexico (Chiapas), there is a very different indigenous style of harp music. Travel between the ports of Veracruz and Venezuela afforded an opportunity for transmission of harp traditions between these areas.[citation needed]

In Venezuela, there are two distinct traditions, the arpa llanera and the arpa central (or arpa mirandina). The modern Venezuelan arpa llanera has 32 strings of nylon (originally, gut). The arpa central is strung with wire in the higher register. An authoritative source in Spanish is Fernando Guerrero Briceno, El Arpa en Venezuela (The Harp in Venezuela).[citation needed]

The style of music and the manner of construction are differentiated from one region to another.[citation needed]

Paraguayan harps have a wide and deep soundbox which tapers to the top. Like Baroque harps, but unlike modern Western harps, they do not stand upright when unattended. The harp is Paraguay's national instrument. It has about 36 strings. Its spacing is narrower and tension lighter than that of modern Western harps. It is played mostly with the fingernails.[citation needed]

Africa

There are many different kinds of harp in Africa. They do not have forepillars and so are either bow harps or angle harps. As well as true harps such as Mauritania's ardin, there are a number of instruments that are difficult to classify, often being labelled harp-lutes. Another term for them is spike harps. The West African kora is the best known. The strings run from a string arm to a 'spike' and the resonating chamber is attached to the base of the spike.[citation needed]

Asia

Sassanid mosaic excavated at Bishapur depicting player and a harp. Artifact is kept at The Louvre.

In Asia, there are very few harps today, though the instrument was popular in ancient times; in that continent, zithers such as China's guzheng and guqin and Japan's koto predominate. However, a few harps exist, the most notable being Burma's saung-gauk, which is considered the national instrument in that country. There was an ancient Chinese harp called konghou; the name is used for a modern Chinese instrument which is being revived. Turkey had a nine-string harp called the çeng that has also fallen out of use.[citation needed]

Modern European and American instruments

Playing style of the European-derived instrument

Most European-derived harps have a single row of strings with strings for each note of the C Major scale (over several octaves). Harpists are aided in telling which strings they are playing because all F strings are black and all C strings are red, and the wire strings are silver or bronze if C or F. The instrument rests between the knees of the harpist and along their right shoulder. The Welsh triple harp and early Irish and Scottish harps, however, are traditionally placed on the left shoulder (in order to have it over the heart).[citation needed]

The first four fingers of each hand are used to pluck the strings; the little fingers are too short and cannot reach the correct position without distorting the position of the other fingers, although on some folk harps with light tension, closely spaced strings, they may occasionally be used. Plucking with varying degrees of force creates dynamics. Depending on finger position on the string, different tones can be produced: a full sound in the middle of the string, and a nasal, guitar-like sound at the very bottom of the string. Tone is also affected by the skin of the harpist, how much oil and moisture it contains, and the amount of thickening by callous formation and its surface texture.

Concert harp

Emily Levin - A contestant in the 17th International Harp Contest in Israel (2009)

The concert harp is large and technically modern, designed for classical music and played solo, as part of chamber ensembles, and in symphony orchestras as well as in popular commercial music. It typically has six and a half octaves (46 or 47 strings), weighs about 80 pounds (36 kg; 5.7 st), is approximately 1.8 metres (5 ft 11 in) high, has a depth of 1.2 metres (3 ft 11 in), and is 55 centimetres (22 in) wide at the bass end of the soundboard. The notes range from three octaves below middle C (or the D above) to three and a half octaves above, usually ending on G. Using octave designations, the range is C1 or D1 to G7. At least one manufacturer gives the harp a 48th string, a high A.

Problems listening to this file? See media help.
The tip of a string is shown in blue. Points in contact with the string are shown in red. Points not in contact with the string are in green.

The concert harp is a pedal harp. Pedal harps use the mechanical action of pedals to change the pitches of the strings. There are seven pedals, each affecting the tuning of all strings of one letter-name, and each pedal is attached to a rod or cable within the column of the harp, which then connects with a mechanism within the neck. When a pedal is moved with the foot, small discs at the top of the harp rotate. The discs are studded with two pegs that pinch the string as they turn, shortening the vibrating length of the string. The pedal has three positions. In the top position no pegs are in contact with the string and all notes are flat; thus the harp's native tuning is to the scale of C-flat major.

Double chromatic harp, ca. 1890

In the middle position the top wheel pinches the string, resulting in a natural, giving the scale of C major if all pedals are set in the middle position. In the bottom position another wheel is turned, shortening the string again to create a sharp, giving the scale of C-sharp major if all pedals are set in the bottom position. Many other scales, both diatonic and synthetic, can be obtained by adjusting the pedals differently from each other; also, many chords in traditional harmony can be obtained by adjusting pedals so that some notes are enharmonic equivalents of others, and this is central to harp technique. In each position the pedal can be secured in a notch so that the foot does not have to keep holding it in the correct position.

This mechanism is called the double-action pedal system, invented by Sébastien Érard in 1810. Earlier pedal harps had a single-action mechanism that allowed strings to play sharpened notes. Lyon and Healy, Camac Harps, Venus Harps, and other manufacturers also make electric pedal harps. The electric harp is a concert harp with piezoelectric pickups at the base of each string and an amplifier. Electric harps can be a blend of electric and acoustic, with the option of using an amplifier or playing the harp just like a normal pedal harp, or can be entirely electric, lacking a soundbox and being mute without an amplifier.

The tension of the strings on the sound board is roughly equal to 10 kN (a ton-force) or 2,000 pounds. The lowest strings are made of copper or silver-over-silk over steel, the lower-middle strings of gut (from sheep or cows) and the upper-middle or highest of nylon.

Technique

The harp is played with the fingertips, with force from the hand and arm, and ultimately the upper body. The fingertips are drawn in to meet the palm of the hand, thus releasing the string from whatever pressure was placed upon it by the fingers. The fingers are naturally curved or rounded as they touch the strings, and the thumb is gently curved as the tip rises to the string as an arc from its base. There are differing schools of technique for playing the harp. The largest are the various French schools, and there are specific Russian schools, Viennese and other schools from differing regions of Europe. One is called the Attl technique after Kajetan Attl, in which apparently only the uppermost parts of the fingers move and the hand is largely still. There is a St. Petersburg school (more than one) in Russia in which the thumbs are moved in a circular fashion rather than in and out toward the hand.

The differences between the French schools lie in the posture of the arms, the shape of the hand and the musical esthetics. The traditional French schooling calls for the right arm to be lightly rested against the harp using the wrist to sometimes bring the hand only away from the string. The left arm moves more freely. The hands are more-or-less rounded, though the thumb is usually in a low position relative to the hand. Finger technique and control are the emphasis of the technical approach, with extensive use of exercises and etudes to develop this. Musical choices tend to be conservative, and centered in the harp music of the 19th century, a continuation, if you will, of the salon tradition of harp playing. Two very influential 20th-century teachers of this approach were Henriette Renie and Marcel Grandjany. Grandjany's pupils have sometimes added to their technique the habit of having the knuckle joints curved inward rather than outward, optionally or always, as M. Grandjany's fingers were wont to do.

The other major French school is the Salzedo school, developed by Carlos Salzedo, who studied with Alphonse Hasselmans at the Paris Conservatoire. Also a virtuoso pianist, he informed his harp playing with what came naturally as a crossover from his piano training. This resulted in a more curved hand, more free movements of the arms, a more wide range of dynamics and tone colors in his playing, which was exceptionally brilliant. He emphasized brilliance and speed in playing. He was also a dedicated modernist, oriented to contemporary music and ideas, and in the forefront of the same. He was an inspiring teacher, and his students filled many important teaching, solo and orchestral positions in the United States and elsewhere. He has come to be seen as American because he was exported to America to serve Arturo Toscanini as harpist at the Metropolitan Opera, and based his later career in the U.S. He helped to design two important harps, the Style 11 and the Salzedo model of Lyon and Healy harps. As an innovative performer and composer, he was of great influence on the direction of harp music composing. His own music began in a fluent late-Romantic style, then a unique Impressionist style and a modernist style unlike any other composer. In fact, he was more imitated by composers than imitative.

Use in music

The harp found its early orchestral use in concerti by many baroque classical composers (Handel, J. C. Bach, Mozart, Albrechtsberger, Schenck, Dussek, Spohr) and in the opera houses of London, Paris and Berlin and most other capitals. It began to be used in symphonic music by Hector Berlioz but he found performances frustrating in such countries as Germany where qualified harpists and harps were few to be found. Franz Liszt was seminal in finding uses for the harp in his orchestral music, and Mendelssohn and Schubert used it in theatrical music or oratorios. The French and Russian Romantic composer particularly expanded its symphonic use. In opera, the Italian composers used it regularly, and Puccini was a particular master of its expressive and coloristic use. Debussy can be said to have put the harp on the map in his many works that use one or more harps. Tchaikovsky also was of great influence, followed by Rimsky-Korsakov and Richard Strauss, not to mention the reviled Wagner. The greates influence on use of the harp has always been the availability of fine harps and skilled players, and the great increase of them in the U.S. of the 20th century resulted in its spread into popular music.

The first harpist known to play jazz was Casper Reardon, a pioneer in the world of "hot" music. Florence Wightman was likely the first to have her own radio series of recitals on several networks in the 1930s.

Many passages for solo harp can be found in 19th century ballet music, particularly in scores for the ballets staged for the Mariinsky Theatre of St. Petersburg, where the harpist Albert Zabel played in the orchestra. In ballet, the harp was utilized to a great extent in order to embellish the dancing of the ballerina. Elaborate cadenzas were composed by Tchaikovsky for his ballets The Nutcracker and The Sleeping Beauty; as well as Alexander Glazunov for his score for the ballet Raymonda. In particular, the scores of Riccardo Drigo contained many pieces for harp in such works as Le Talisman (1889), Le Réveil de Flore (1894) and Les Millions d'Arlequin (1900). Cesare Pugni wrote extensively for the harp as well—his ballet Éoline, ou La Dryade included music written for harp to accompany the ballerina's numerous variations and enhance the atmosphere of the ballet's many fantastical scenes. Ludwig Minkus was celebrated for his harp cadenzas, most notably the Variation de la Reine du jour from his ballet La Nuit et le Jour (1881), the elaborate entr'acte composed for Albert Zabel from his ballet Roxana (1878), and numerous passages found in his score for the ballet La Bayadère, which in some passages were used to represent a veena which was used on stage as a prop.

The French ballet composers were no slouches in the harp department, either. Delibes made excellent use of it, as did Gounod and Massenet in their music.

There is a prominent harp part in "She's Leaving Home" by The Beatles in their 1967 album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. In the 1970s, a harp was common in popular music, and can be heard in such hits as Cher's Dark Lady and the intro of Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves. Most often this was played by Los Angeles studio harpist Gayle Levant, who has played on hundreds of recordings. In current pop music, the harp appears relatively rarely. Joanna Newsom, Dee Carstensen, Darian Scatton, Habiba Doorenbos, and Jessa Callen of The Callen Sisters have separately established images as harp-playing singer-songwriters with signature harp and vocal sounds. Canadian singer-songwriter Sarah McLachlan plays the harp in her 2006 holiday album, Wintersong. In Hong Kong, a notable example of harp in pop music is the song Tin Shui Walled City (天水圍城) performed by Hacken Lee with harp played by Korean harpist Jung Kwak (Harpist K).

Harp use has recently expanded in the "alternative" music world of commercial popular music. A pedal harpist, Ricky Rasura, is a member of the "symphonic pop" band, The Polyphonic Spree. Also, Björk sometimes features acoustic and electric harp in her work, often played by Zeena Parkins. Philadelphia based Indie Pop Band Br'er uses a pedal harp as the foundation for their cinematic live sets. Art in America was the first known rock band featuring a pedal harp to appear on a major record label, and released only one record, in 1983. The pedal harp was also present in the Michael Kamen and Metallica concert and album, S&M, as part of the San Francisco Symphony orchestra. R&B singer Maxwell featured harpist Gloria Agostini in 1997 on his cover of Kate Bush's "This Woman's Work". On his 7th solo album Finding Forever, Hip- Hop artist Common features harpist Brandee Younger on the introductory track, followed by a Dorothy Ashby sample from her 1969 recording of The Windmills of Your Mind. Some Celtic-pop crossover bands and artists such as Clannad and Loreena McKennitt include folk harps, following Alan Stivell's work. Recently Florence Welch has begun to incorporate harps into her songs, notably on "Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)".

See the List of compositions for harp for the names of some notable pieces from the classical repertoire.

Harp Players

Alan Stivell is a well-known crossover and Celtic harpist. He first recorded an EP record, "Musique Gaélique," in 1959, then an LP in 1964 called "Telenn Geltiek " (available in CD). Following these, he has released 21 other albums including his harps, from 1970 until now (the last one is "Explore" - 2006- ). He also recorded some albums especially dedicated to the harp: the famous Renaissance of the Celtic Harp (1972), "Harpes du Nouvel Age" (1985), and "Beyond Words" (2002). He helped to promote developments in Electro-acoustic and Electric harps.[3]

Harpist Joanna Newsom onstage in 2007

Folk, lever, and Celtic instruments

New Salem Village re-enactors playing Celtic harps

The folk harp or Celtic harp is small to medium-sized and usually designed for traditional music; it can be played solo or with small groups. It is prominent in Welsh, Breton, Irish, Scottish and other Celtic cultures within traditional or folk music and as a social and political symbol. Often the folk harp is played by beginners who wish to move on to the pedal harp at a later stage, or by musicians who simply prefer the smaller size or different sounds. Alan Stivell, with his father Jord Cochevelou (who recreate the Breton Celtic harp), were at the origin of the revival of the Celtic harp (in the 70s).[3]

The folk or lever harp ranges in size from two octaves to six octaves, and uses levers or blades to change pitch. The most common size has 34 strings: Two octaves below middle C and two and a half above (ending on A), although folk or lever harps can usually be found with anywhere from 19 to 40 strings. The strings are generally made of nylon, gut, carbon fiber or flourocarbon, or wrapped metal, and are plucked with the fingers using a similar technique to the pedal harp.

Folk harps with levers installed have a lever close to the top of each string; when it is engaged, it shortens the string so its pitch is raised a semitone, resulting in a sharped note if the string was a natural, or a natural note if the string was a flat. Lever harps are often tuned to the key C or E-flat. Using this scheme, the major keys of E-flat, B-flat, F, C, G, D, A, and E can be reached by changing lever positions, rather than re-tuning any strings. Many smaller folk harps are tuned in C or F, and may have no levers, or levers on the F and C strings only, allowing a narrower range of keys. Blades and hooks perform almost the same function as levers, but use a different mechanism. The most common type of lever is either the Camac or Truitt lever although Loveland levers are still used by some makers.

One of the attendant problems with lever harps is the potential loss of quality when the levers are used. The Teifi semi tone developed by Allan Shiers is a development from traditional mechanisms and nips up the string with two forks similarly to a concert harp. The semi tone is double locking for a full clear sound and does not wear the string. It is machined from solid brass and hardened steel and is adjustable by an eccentric roller to suit any gauge of string. In addition, the whole unit can be moved up or down to affect perfect pitch and string alignment. The lever arms are coloured for ease of note recognition and two sizes are made to suit treble, mid and bass.

Electric instruments

Amplified (electro-acoustic) and solid body electric lever harps are produced by some harpmakers such as Camac Harps

The Laser harp is also not a stringed instrument; it is a harp-shaped electronic instrument with laser beams where harps have strings.

Wire-strung instruments (clàrsach or cláirseach)

The harper on the Monifeith Pictish stone, Scotland, 700 - 900 AD
Maedoc book-cover, Ireland, circa 1000 AD
The Scottish medieval clàrsach 'Queen Mary harp' 'Clàrsach na Banrigh Màiri, (c.1400) [4] now in the Museum of Scotland, is a one of only three surviving medieval Gaelic harps.

The Gaelic triangular, wire-strung harp has always been known by the feminine term cruit but by 1204 was certainly known by the masculine term 'clàr' (board) and, by the 14th century, by the feminine form of 'clàr', ie, 'clàirseach/clàrsach'. (Gd.)

Clàirseach/clàrsach is a compound word, feminine in gender and composed of the masculine word 'clàr' (board/harp) and the feminising suffix '-search/-sach'. The suggestion that it is composed of the elements 'clàr' (board) and 'shoileach' (willow) is a much less likely explanation as i) the 'clàr shoileach' term is masculine in gender, taking the masculine form of the definite article, and ii) the /s/ phoneme is absent (replaced by an /h/ phoneme) and therefore the /l/ phoneme would be more likely to form part of any contraction (eg, clàirleach).

The origins of the Gaelic triangular harp go back at least to the first millennium. There are several stone carvings of triangular harps from the 10th century, many of which have simple triangular shapes, generally with straight pillars, straight string arms or necks, and soundboxes. There is stone carving evidence that the lyre and/or perhaps a non-triangular harp were present in Ireland[citation needed] during the first millennium. Evidence for the triangular harp in Gaelic/Pictish Scotland dates from the 9th century.[5]

The harp was the most popular musical instrument in later medieval Scotland and Ireland and Gaelic poets portrayed their Pictish counterparts as very much like themselves.[6]

Scotland, because of her affinity and intercourse [with Ireland], tries to imitate Ireland in music and strives in emulation. Ireland uses and delights in two instruments only, the harp namely, and the tympanum. Scotland uses three, the harp, the tympanum and the crowd. In the opinion, however, of many, Scotland has by now not only caught up on Ireland, her instructor, but already far outdistances her and excels her in musical skill. Therefore, [Irish] people now look to that country as the fountain of the art.

The harp played by the Gaels of Scotland and Ireland between the 11th and 19th centuries was certainly wire-strung. The Irish Maedoc Book Shrine dates from the 11th century, and clearly shows a harper with a triangular framed harp including a "T-Section" in the pillar. The Irish word lamhchrann came into use at an unknown date to indicate this pillar which would have supplied the bracing to withstand the tension of a wire-strung harp.

The Irish and Highland Harps by Robert Bruce Armstrong is an excellent book describing these ancient harps. There is historical evidence that the types of wire used in these harps are iron, brass, silver, and gold. Three pre-16th century examples survive today; the Brian Boru harp in Trinity College, Dublin, and the Queen Mary and Lamont Harps, both in Scotland.

One of the largest and most complete collections of 17th century harp music is the work of Turlough O'Carolan, a blind, itinerant Irish harper and composer. At least 220 of his compositions survive to this day.

Since the 1970s, the tradition has been revived. Alan Stivell's Renaissance de la Harpe Celtique (perhaps the best-seller harp album in the world), using mainly the bronze strung harp, and his tours, have brought the instrument into the ears and the love of many people.[3] Ann Heymann has revived the ancient tradition and technique by playing the instrument as well as studying Bunting's original manuscripts in the library of Queens University, Belfast. Katie Targett-Adams ( KT-A) is currently leading the modern day crossover movement for the clarsach, performing to mainstream audiences across the globe, notably China. Other high profile players include Patrick Ball, Cynthia Cathcart, Alison Kinnaird, Bill Taylor, Siobhán Armstrong and others.

As performers have become interested in the instrument, harp makers ("luthiers") such as Jay Witcher, David Kortier, Ardival Harps, Joël Herrou and others have begun building wire-strung harps. The traditional wire materials are used, however iron has been replaced by steel and the modern phosphor bronze has been added to the list. The phosphor bronze and brass are most commonly used. Steel tends to be very abrasive to the nails. Silver and gold are used to get high density materials into the bass courses of high quality clàrsachs to greatly improve their tone quality. In the period, no sharping devices were used. Harpers had to re-tune strings to change keys. This practice is reflected by most of the modern luthiers, yet some allow provisions for either levers or blades.

Multi-course

A multi-course harp is a harp with more than one row of strings. A harp with only one row of strings is called a single-course harp.

Double harp

A double-strung harp consists of two rows of diatonic strings one on either side of the neck. These strings may run parallel to each other or may converge so the bottom ends of the strings are very close together. Either way, the strings that are next to each other are tuned to the same note. Double-strung harps often have levers either on every string or on the most commonly sharped strings, for example C and F. Having two sets of strings allows the harpist's left and right hands to occupy the same range of notes without having both hands attempt to play the same string at the same time. It also allows for special effects such as repeating a note very quickly without stopping the sound from the previous note.

A triple harp features three rows of parallel strings, two outer rows of diatonic strings, and a center row of chromatic strings. To play a sharp, the harpist reaches in between the strings in either outer row and plucks the center row string. Like the double-strung harp, the two outer rows of strings are tuned the same, but the triple-strung harp has no levers. This harp originated in Italy in the 16th century as a low headed instrument, and towards the end of 1600s it arrived in Wales where it developed a high head and larger size. It established itself as part of Welsh tradition and became known as the Welsh harp (telyn deires, "three-row harp"). The traditional design has all of the strings strung from the left side of the neck, but modern neck designs have the two outer rows of strings strung from opposite sides of the neck to greatly reduce the tendency for the neck to roll over to the left.

Cross-strung harp

The cross-strung harp consists of one row of diatonically tuned strings and another row of chromatic notes. These strings cross approximately in the middle of the string without touching. Traditionally the diatonic row runs from the right (as seen by someone sitting at the harp) side of the neck to the left side of the sound board. The chromatic row runs from the left of the neck to the right of the sound board. The diatonic row has the normal string coloration for a harp, but the chromatic row may be black. The chromatic row is not a full set of strings. It is missing the strings between the Es and Fs in the diatonic row and between the Bs and Cs in the diatonic row. In this respect it is much like a piano. The diatonic row corresponds to the white keys and the chromatic row to the black keys. Playing each string in succession results in a complete chromatic scale.

An alternate form of the cross-strung, the 6/6 or isomorphic cross-strung, has 6 strings on each side of the cross instead of 5 on one and 7 on the other. This configuration is less intuitive to someone coming from a piano/organ background, but more intuitive to someone with a guitar/violin or other chromatic or whole-tone instrument background because it utilizes a chromatic scale or wholetone scale. This configuration gives the entire octave in only 6 strings per side, making more efficient use of the size of the instrument.

As a symbol

Political

The harp has been used as a political symbol of Ireland for centuries. Its origin is from the time of Brian Boru, a famous 'High King' of the whole island of Ireland who played the harp. In Celtic society every clan would have a resident harp player who would write songs in honour of the leader. These were called Planxties. This evolved and would eventually be adapted as a symbol and representation of the Irish people, and under English occupation. It was used to symbolize Ireland in the Royal Standard of King James VI/I of Scotland, England and Ireland in 1603 and had continued to feature on all English, British and United Kingdom Royal Standards ever since, though the style of harp used differed on some Royal Standards. It was also used on the Commonwealth Jack of Oliver Cromwell, issued in 1649 and on the Protectorate Jack issued in 1658 as well as on the Lord Protector's Standard issued on the succession of Richard Cromwell in 1658. The harp is also traditionally used on the flag of Leinster.

From 1922, the Irish Free State continued to use a similar harp, facing left, as its state symbol on the Great Seal of the Irish Free State, featuring it both on the coat of arms and on the Presidential Standard and Presidential Seal - as well as on various other official seals and documents. This was based on the Brian Boru harp in the Library of Trinity College Dublin, which was badly restored in the 1840s. Since it was fully rebuilt in 1961, it is seen to be wider at the base of the soundbox but this has gone unnoticed by Irish officials.[8] The harp also appears on Irish coinage from the Middle Ages to the current Irish euro coins.

A South Asian version of harp known in Tamil as 'yaal', is the symbol of City of Jaffna, Sri Lanka, whose legendary root originates from a harp player.

Corporate

The harp is also used extensively as a corporate logo — both private and government organisations. For instance; Ireland's most famous drink, Guinness, also uses a harp, facing right and also less detailed than the state arms. This was the second London-registered trademark in the 1860s, but was not used until the 1870s, when it was placed on bottles of stout exported to Britain, in the hope that British consumers would associate the drink with wholesome Irish agricultural produce. It was adopted on Guinness products in Ireland from the 1890s, for a different reason; to remind supporters of the growing nationalist movement that Guinness was Irish.[9] A simplified harp was adopted in the 1990s.

Relatively new organizations also use the harp, but often modified to reflect a theme relevant to their organization, for instance; Irish airline Ryanair uses a modified harp, and the Irish State Examinations Commission uses it with an educational theme.

The harp is also used as the logo for League of Ireland football team Finn Harps, who are Donegal's senior soccer club.

Other organizations in Ireland use the harp, but not always prominently; these include the National University of Ireland and the associated University College Dublin, and the Gaelic Athletic Association. In Northern Ireland the Police Service of Northern Ireland and Queen's University of Belfast use the harp as part of their identity.

See also

Related categories

References

  1. ^ Dave Black and Tom Gerou, "Essential Dictionary of Orchestration." Alfred Publishing Co. ISBN 0-7390-0021-7
  2. ^ Rabab Saoud (2004-03). "The Arab Contribution to the Music of the Western World" (PDF). FSTC Limited. http://www.muslimheritage.com/uploads/Music2.pdf. Retrieved 2008-06-20. 
  3. ^ a b c JT Koch (ed). Celtic Culture. A Historical Encyclopaedia ABC-CLIO 2006 pp 1627-1628
  4. ^ Caldwell, D.H. (ed). Angels Nobles and Unicorns: Art and Patronage in Medieval Scotland. Edinburgh: NMS, 1982
  5. ^ "The Origins of the Clairsach or Irish Harp", Musical Times, Vol. 53, No 828 (Feb 1912), pp 89-92.
  6. ^ Forsyth, "Evidence of a lost Pictish Source", pp. 27–28.
  7. ^ Gerald of Wales, "Topographia Hibernica", 94; tr. John O’ Meary, The History and Topography of Ireland, (London, 1982).
  8. ^ Comerford R.V. Ireland (Arnold, London 2003) p265.
  9. ^ Dennison & McDonagh Guinness 1886-1939 (London 1992) passim.

Additional sources

  • "The Anglo Saxon Harp", Spectrum, Vol. 71, No.2 (Apr., 1996), pp 290–320.
  • "The Origins of the Clairsach or Irish Harp", Musical Times, Vol. 53, No 828 (Feb 1912), pp 89–92.
  • Alasdair Ross discusses that all the Scottish harp figures were copied from foreign drawings and not from life, in "'Harps of Their Owne Sorte'? A Reassessment of Pictish Chordophone Depictions", Cambrian Medieval Celtic Studies 36, Winter 1998.
  • Snyder's Medieval Art, 2nd ed, p. 32. Luttikhuizen and Verkerk.
  • Courteau, Mona-Lynn. "Harp". In J. Shepherd, D. Horn, D. Laing, P. Oliver and P. Wicke (Eds.), The Continuum Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World, Vol. 2, 2003, pp. 427–437.
  • Montagu, Jeremy (2002). "Harp". in Alison Latham. The Oxford Companion to Music. London: Oxford University Press. pp. 564. ISBN 0198662122. OCLC 59376677. 
  • Rensch, Roslyn (2007/1989). Harps and Harpists, revised (2nd) edition. Indiana University. ISBN 0-253-34903-6.

External links

Celtic harp


Harp
String instrument
Hornbostel-Sachs classification 322-5
(Composite chordophone sounded by the bare fingers)
Developed Antiquity
Playing range

(modern pedal harp)[1]
Related instruments

The 'harp' is a stringed instrument which has the plane of its strings positioned perpendicular to the soundboard. It is classified as a chordophone by the Harvard Dictionary of Music and only types of harps are in that class of instruments with plucked strings. All harps have a neck, resonator, and strings. Some, known as frame harps, also have a forepillar; those lacking the forepillar are referred to as open harps. Depending on its size (which varies considerably), a harp may be played while held in the lap or while it stands on the floor. Harp strings are made of nylon, gut, wire, or silk on certain instruments. A person who plays the harp is called a harpist or harper. Folk musicians often use the term "harper", whereas classical musicians use "harpist".[citation needed]

Various types of harps are found in Africa, Europe, North, and South America, and in Asia. In antiquity, harps and the closely related lyres were very prominent in nearly all cultures. The oldest harps found thus far have been uncovered in ruins from ancient Sumer. The harp also predominant in the hands of medieval bards, troubadors and minnesingers, as well as throughout the Spanish Empire. Harps continued to grow in popularity through improvements in their design and construction through the beginning of the 20th century.

The aeolian harp (wind harp), the autoharp, and all forms of the lyre and Kithara are not harps because their strings are not perpendicular to the soundboard; they are part of the zither family of instruments along with the piano and harpsichord. In blues music, the harmonica is called a "Blues harp" or "harp", but it is a free reed wind instrument, not a stringed instrument, and is therefore not an actual harp.[citation needed]

Contents

Origins

File:Egyptian
An ancient Egyptian harp on display in the British Museum.

Harps were most likely independently invented in many parts of the world in remote prehistory.[clarification needed] It is self-evident that the harp's origins may lie in the sound of a plucked hunter's bow string or the strings of a loom.

A type of harp called a 'bow harp' is nothing more than a bow like a hunter's, with a resonating vessel such as a gourd fixed somewhere along its length. To allow a greater number of strings, harps were later made from two pieces of wood attached at the ends: this type is known as the 'angle harp'.[citation needed]They can also come in different colours.

The oldest depictions of harps without a forepillar are from 4000 BC in Egypt[citation needed](see Music of Egypt) and 3000 BC in Persia (see Music of Iran).[citation needed] Other ancient names for harps include magadis and sambuka. The kanun is a descendant of the ancient Egyptian harp and was introduced to Europe by the Moors during the Middle Ages but is like the beforementioned Aeolian harp not a harp but a member of the zither family.[citation needed]

Structure and mechanism

Harps are roughly triangular and are usually made primarily of wood. The lower ends of the strings are fastened to the inside of the sounding-board, which is the outer surface of the resonating cavity. The body is hollow and resonates, projecting sound both toward the player through openings, and outward through the highly flexible sounding board. The crossbar, or neck, contains the mechanism or levers which determine the pitch alteration (sharps and flats) for each string. The upper ends of the strings are attached to pins in holes drilled through the neck. The longest side, the column, encloses the rods controlling the mechanism of a pedal harp. At the base are seven pedals, which activate the rods when they are downwardly pressed. The modern sophisticated instrument spanning 6½ octaves in virtually all keys was perfected by the 19th-century French maker Sébastien Érard.[citation needed]

Lever harps do not have pedals or rods. Instead they use a shortening lever on the neck for each individual string which must be activated manually in order to shorten the string and raise the tone a half step. Thus, a string tuned to natural may be played in sharp, but not flat. A string tuned to flat may be played in natural, but not sharp. Lever harps are considerably lighter in weight than pedal harps and are smaller in size and number of strings. Lever harps are popular for playing folk music and are most commonly called folk harps.[citation needed]

The harp lute or dital harp adapts the lever tuning system to a fretted instrument in the lute or guitar family.[citation needed]

Development and history in Europe

[[File:|right|thumb|200px|A medieval European harp (the Wartburg harp) with buzzing bray pins.]] Angle harps and bow harps continue to be used up to the present day. In Europe, however, a further development took place[when?]: adding a third structural member, the pillar, to support the far ends of the arch and sound box. The 'Triangular Frame harp' is depicted in manuscripts and sculpture from about the 8th century AD, especially in North-West Europe, although specific nationalistic claims to the invention of the triangular frame harp cannot be substantiated.[citation needed] The graceful curve of the harp's neck is a result of the proportional shortening of the basic triangular form so that the strings are equidistant. If the strings were proportionately distanced, the strings would be farther and farther apart.

European harps in medieval and Renaissance times usually had a bray pin fitted to make a buzzing sound when a string was plucked. By the baroque period, in Italy and Spain, more strings were added to allow for chromatic notes; these were usually in a second line of strings. At the same time[when?] single-row diatonic harps continued to be played.[citation needed]

The first primitive form of pedal harps were developed in the Tyrol region of Austria. Hochbrucker was the next to design an improved pedal mechanism, followed in succession by Krumpholtz, Nadermann, and the Erard company, who came up with the double mechanism. In Germany in the second half of the 17th century, diatonic single-row harps were fitted with manually turned hooks which fretted individual strings to raise their pitch by a half step. In the 18th century, a link mechanism was developed connecting these hooks with pedals, leading to the invention of the single-action pedal harp. Later, a second row of hooks was installed along the neck to allow for the double-action pedal harp, capable of raising the pitch of a string by either one or two half steps. The idea was even extended to triple-action harps, but these were never common. The double-action pedal harp remains the normal form of the instrument in the Western classical orchestra. There was a chromatic harp developed in the late 19th century that only found a small number of proponents, and was mainly taught in Belgium.[citation needed]

Latin America

In Latin America, harps are widely but sparsely distributed, except in certain regions where the harp traditions are very strong. Such important centers include Mexico, Andes, Colombia, Venezuela, and Paraguay. They are derived from the Baroque harps that were brought from Spain during the colonial period.[citation needed]

Detailed features vary from place to place. Paraguayan harps and harp music have gained a worldwide reputation, with international influences alongside folk traditions. Mexican "jarocha" harp music of Veracruz has also gained some international recognition, evident in the popularity of "la bamba". In southern Mexico (Chiapas), there is a very different indigenous style of harp music. Travel between the ports of Veracruz and Venezuela afforded an opportunity for transmission of harp traditions between these areas.[citation needed]

In Venezuela, there are two distinct traditions, the arpa llanera and the arpa central (or arpa mirandina). The modern Venezuelan arpa llanera has 32 strings of nylon (originally, gut). The arpa central is strung with wire in the higher register. An authoritative source in Spanish is Fernando Guerrero Briceno, El Arpa en Venezuela (The Harp in Venezuela).[citation needed]

The style of music and the manner of construction are differentiated from one region to another.[clarification needed][citation needed]

Paraguayan harps have a wide and deep soundbox which tapers to the top. Like Baroque harps, but unlike modern Western harps, they do not stand upright when unattended. The harp is Paraguay's national instrument. It has about 36 strings. Its spacing is narrower and tension lighter than that of modern Western harps. It is played mostly with the fingernails.[citation needed]

Africa

There are many different kinds of harp in Africa. They do not have forepillars and so are either bow harps or angle harps. As well as true harps such as Mauritania's ardin, there are a number of instruments that are difficult to classify, often being labelled harp-lutes. Another term for them is spike harps. The West African kora is the best known. The strings run from a string arm to a 'spike' and the resonating chamber is attached to the base of the spike.[citation needed]

Asia

File:Bishapur
Persian mosaic, Sassanian era, excavated at Bishapur depicting player and a harp. Artifact is kept at The Louvre.

In Asia, there are very few harps today, though the instrument was popular in ancient times; in that continent, zithers such as China's guzheng and guqin and Japan's koto predominate. However, a few harps exist, the most notable being Burma's saung-gauk, which is considered the national instrument in that country. There was an ancient Chinese harp called konghou; the name is used for a modern Chinese instrument which is being revived. Turkey had a nine-string harp called the çeng that has also fallen out of use.[citation needed]

Modern European and American instruments

Playing style of the European-derived instrument

Most European-derived harps have a single row of strings with strings for each note of the C Major scale (over several octaves).

Harpists are aided in telling which strings they are playing because all F strings are black or blue and all C strings are red, and the wire strings are silver or bronze if C or F.

The instrument rests between the knees of the harpist and along their right shoulder. The Welsh triple harp and early Irish and Scottish harps, however, are traditionally placed on the left shoulder (in order to have it over the heart).[citation needed]

The first four fingers of each hand are used to pluck the strings; the little fingers are too short and cannot reach the correct position without distorting the position of the other fingers, although on some folk harps with light tension, closely spaced strings, they may occasionally be used. Plucking with varying degrees of force creates dynamics. Depending on finger position on the string, different tones can be produced: a full sound in the middle of the string, and a nasal, guitar-like sound at the very bottom of the string. Tone is also affected by the skin of the harpist, how much oil and moisture it contains, and the amount of thickening by callous formation and its surface texture.

Concert harp

The concert harp is large and technically modern, designed for classical music and played solo, as part of chamber ensembles, and in symphony orchestras as well as in popular commercial music. It typically has six and a half octaves (46 or 47 strings), weighs about 80 pounds (36 kg; 5.7 st), is approximately 1.8 metres (5 ft 11 in) high, has a depth of 1.2 metres (3 ft 11 in), and is 55 centimetres (22 in) wide at the bass end of the soundboard. The notes range from three octaves below middle C (or the D above) to three and a half octaves above, usually ending on G. Using octave designations, the range is C1 or D1 to G7. At least one manufacturer gives the harp a 48th string, a high A.

File:Harp
The tip of a string is shown in blue. Points in contact with the string are shown in red. Points not in contact with the string are in green.

The concert harp is a pedal harp. Pedal harps use the mechanical action of pedals to change the pitches of the strings. There are seven pedals, each affecting the tuning of all strings of one letter-name, and each pedal is attached to a rod or cable within the column of the harp, which then connects with a mechanism within the neck. When a pedal is moved with the foot, small discs at the top of the harp rotate. The discs are studded with two pegs that pinch the string as they turn, shortening the vibrating length of the string. The pedal has three positions. In the top position no pegs are in contact with the string and all notes are flat; thus the harp's native tuning is to the scale of C-flat major.

File:Double Chromatic Harp
Double chromatic harp, ca. 1890

In the middle position the top wheel pinches the string, resulting in a natural, giving the scale of C major if all pedals are set in the middle position. In the bottom position another wheel is turned, shortening the string again to create a sharp, giving the scale of C-sharp major if all pedals are set in the bottom position. Many other scales, both diatonic and synthetic, can be obtained by adjusting the pedals differently from each other; also, many chords in traditional harmony can be obtained by adjusting pedals so that some notes are enharmonic equivalents of others, and this is central to harp technique. In each position the pedal can be secured in a notch so that the foot does not have to keep holding it in the correct position.

This mechanism is called the double-action pedal system, invented by Sébastien Érard in 1810. Earlier pedal harps had a single-action mechanism that allowed strings to play sharpened notes. Lyon and Healy, Camac Harps, Venus Harps, and other manufacturers also make electric pedal harps. The electric harp is a concert harp with piezoelectric pickups at the base of each string and an amplifier. Electric harps can be a blend of electric and acoustic, with the option of using an amplifier or playing the harp just like a normal pedal harp, or can be entirely electric, lacking a soundbox and being mute without an amplifier.

The tension of the strings on the sound board is roughly equal to 10 kN (a ton-force) or 2,000 pounds. The lowest strings are made of copper or silver-over-silk over steel, the lower-middle strings of gut (from sheep or cows) and the upper-middle or highest of nylon.

Technique

The harp is played with the fingertips, with force from the hand and arm, and ultimately the upper body. The fingertips are drawn in to meet the palm of the hand, thus releasing the string from whatever pressure was placed upon it by the fingers. The fingers are naturally curved or rounded as they touch the strings, and the thumb is gently curved as the tip rises to the string as an arc from its base. There are differing schools of technique for playing the harp. The largest are the various French schools, and there are specific Russian schools, Viennese and other schools from differing regions of Europe. One is called the Attl technique after Kajetan Attl, in which apparently only the uppermost parts of the fingers move and the hand is largely still. There is a St. Petersburg school (more than one) in Russia in which the thumbs are moved in a circular fashion rather than in and out toward the hand.

The differences between the French schools lie in the posture of the arms, the shape of the hand and the musical aesthetics. The traditional French schooling calls for the right arm to be lightly rested against the harp using the wrist to sometimes bring the hand only away from the string. The left arm moves more freely. The hands are more-or-less rounded, though the thumb is usually in a low position relative to the hand. Finger technique and control are the emphasis of the technical approach, with extensive use of exercises and etudes to develop this. Musical choices tend to be conservative, and centered in the harp music of the 19th century, a continuation, if you will, of the salon tradition of harp playing. Two very influential 20th-century teachers of this approach were Henriette Renie and Marcel Grandjany. Grandjany's pupils have sometimes added to their technique the habit of having the knuckle joints curved inward rather than outward, optionally or always, as M. Grandjany's fingers were wont to do.

The other major French school is the Salzedo school, developed by Carlos Salzedo, who studied with Alphonse Hasselmans at the Paris Conservatoire. Also a virtuoso pianist, he informed his harp playing with what came naturally as a crossover from his piano training. This resulted in a more curved hand, more free movements of the arms, a more wide range of dynamics and tone colors in his playing, which was exceptionally brilliant. He emphasized brilliance and speed in playing. He was also a dedicated modernist, oriented to contemporary music and ideas, and in the forefront of the same. He was an inspiring teacher, and his students filled many important teaching, solo and orchestral positions in the United States and elsewhere. He has come to be seen as American because he was exported to America to serve Arturo Toscanini as harpist at the Metropolitan Opera, and based his later career in the U.S. He helped to design two important harps, the Style 11 and the Salzedo model of Lyon and Healy harps. As an innovative performer and composer, he was of great influence on the direction of harp music composing. His own music began in a fluent late-Romantic style, then a unique Impressionist style and a modernist style unlike any other composer. In fact, he was more imitated by composers than imitative.

Use in music

The harp found its early orchestral use in concerti by many baroque classical composers (Handel, J. C. Bach, Mozart, Albrechtsberger, Schenck, Dussek, Spohr) and in the opera houses of London, Paris and Berlin and most other capitals. It began to be used in symphonic music by Hector Berlioz but he found performances frustrating in such countries as Germany where qualified harpists and harps were few to be found. Franz Liszt was seminal in finding uses for the harp in his orchestral music, and Mendelssohn and Schubert used it in theatrical music or oratorios. The French and Russian Romantic composer particularly expanded its symphonic use. In opera, the Italian composers used it regularly, and Puccini was a particular master of its expressive and coloristic use. Debussy can be said to have put the harp on the map in his many works that use one or more harps. Tchaikovsky also was of great influence, followed by Rimsky-Korsakov, Richard Strauss and Wagner. The greatest influence on use of the harp has always been the availability of fine harps and skilled players, and the great increase of them in the U.S. of the 20th century resulted in its spread into popular music.

The first harpist known to play jazz was Casper Reardon, a pioneer in the world of "hot" music. Florence Wightman was likely the first to have her own radio series of recitals on several networks in the 1930s.

Many passages for solo harp can be found in 19th century ballet music, particularly in scores for the ballets staged for the Mariinsky Theatre of St. Petersburg, where the harpist Albert Zabel played in the orchestra. In ballet, the harp was utilized to a great extent in order to embellish the dancing of the ballerina. Elaborate cadenzas were composed by Tchaikovsky for his ballets The Nutcracker and The Sleeping Beauty; as well as Alexander Glazunov for his score for the ballet Raymonda. In particular, the scores of Riccardo Drigo contained many pieces for harp in such works as Le Talisman (1889), Le Réveil de Flore (1894) and Les Millions d'Arlequin (1900). Cesare Pugni wrote extensively for the harp as well—his ballet Éoline, ou La Dryade included music written for harp to accompany the ballerina's numerous variations and enhance the atmosphere of the ballet's many fantastical scenes. Ludwig Minkus was celebrated for his harp cadenzas, most notably the Variation de la Reine du jour from his ballet La Nuit et le Jour (1881), the elaborate entr'acte composed for Albert Zabel from his ballet Roxana (1878), and numerous passages found in his score for the ballet La Bayadère, which in some passages were used to represent a veena which was used on stage as a prop.

The French ballet composers were no slouches in the harp department, either. Delibes made excellent use of it, as did Gounod and Massenet in their music.

There is a prominent harp part in "She's Leaving Home" by The Beatles in their 1967 album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. In the 1970s, a harp was common in popular music, and can be heard in such hits as Cher's "Dark Lady" and the intro of "Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves". Most often this was played by Los Angeles studio harpist Gayle Levant, who has played on hundreds of recordings. In current pop music, the harp appears relatively rarely. Joanna Newsom, Dee Carstensen, Darian Scatton, Habiba Doorenbos, and Jessa Callen of The Callen Sisters have separately established images as harp-playing singer-songwriters with signature harp and vocal sounds. Canadian singer-songwriter Sarah McLachlan plays the harp in her 2006 holiday album, Wintersong. In Hong Kong, a notable example of harp in pop music is the song Tin Shui Walled City (天水圍城) performed by Hacken Lee with harp played by Korean harpist Jung Kwak (Harpist K).

Harp use has recently expanded in the "alternative" music world of commercial popular music. A pedal harpist, Ricky Rasura, is a member of the "symphonic pop" band, The Polyphonic Spree. Also, Björk sometimes features acoustic and electric harp in her work, often played by Zeena Parkins. Philadelphia based Indie Pop Band Br'er uses a pedal harp as the foundation for their cinematic live sets. Art in America was the first known rock band featuring a pedal harp to appear on a major record label, and released only one record, in 1983. The pedal harp was also present in the Michael Kamen and Metallica concert and album, S&M, as part of the San Francisco Symphony orchestra. R&B singer Maxwell featured harpist Gloria Agostini in 1997 on his cover of Kate Bush's "This Woman's Work". On his 7th solo album Finding Forever, Hip- Hop artist Common features harpist Brandee Younger on the introductory track, followed by a Dorothy Ashby sample from her 1969 recording of The Windmills of Your Mind. Some Celtic-pop crossover bands and artists such as Clannad and Loreena McKennitt include folk harps, following Alan Stivell's work. Recently Florence Welch has begun to incorporate harps into her songs, notably on "Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)".The Webb Sisters from UK use different size harps in almost all their material during live performances.

See the List of compositions for harp for the names of some notable pieces from the classical repertoire.

Harp Players

The most prominent 20th-century concert harpists have been Carlos Salzedo, Nicanor Zabaleta, Mildred Dilling, Susann McDonald, Heidi Lehwalder, Henriette Renie, Marcel Grandjany, Lucile Lawrence, Alice Chalifoux, Florence Wightman, and Susanna Mildonian, to name some of the most well-known performers. Perhaps one of the most memorable harpists of the 20th century was the actor and movie star Harpo Marx, whose stage name was taken from his proficiency with the instrument.

Other famous harpists include Giuliana Albisetti, Clelia Gatti Aldrovandi, Claudia Antonelli, Lucia Bova, Osian Ellis, Alice Giles, Felix Godefroid, Maria Vittoria Grossi, Alphonse Hasselmans, Ursula Holliger, Pierre Jamet, Alfredo Kastner, Johann Baptist Krumpholtz, Judy Loman, Ludovico, Maria Antonietta d'Asburgo-Lorena regina di Francia, François-Josef Naderman, Jean-Henry Naderman, Elias Parish-Alvars, John Parry, Laura Peperara, Marie Thérèse Petrini, Franz Petrini, Fabrice Pierre, Francis Pierre, Franz Poenitz, Francesco Pollini, Roslyn Rensch, Marisa Robles, Dorette Scheidler Spohr, Anne-Marie Steckler (M.me Krumpholtz), Luigi Maurizio Tedeschi, Marcel Tournier, Mirella Vita, Albert Heinrich Zabel, Elena Zaniboni.[2]

Folk, lever, and Celtic instruments

The folk harp or Celtic harp is small to medium-sized and usually designed for traditional music; it can be played solo or with small groups. It is prominent in Welsh, Breton, Irish, Scottish and other Celtic cultures within traditional or folk music and as a social and political symbol. Often the folk harp is played by beginners who wish to move on to the pedal harp at a later stage, or by musicians who simply prefer the smaller size or different sounds. Alan Stivell, with his father Jord Cochevelou (who recreated the Breton Celtic harp), were at the origin of the revival of the Celtic harp (in the 70s).[3]

The folk or lever harp ranges in size from two octaves to six octaves, and uses levers or blades to change pitch. The most common size has 34 strings: Two octaves below middle C and two and a half above (ending on A), although folk or lever harps can usually be found with anywhere from 19 to 40 strings. The strings are generally made of nylon, gut, carbon fiber or fluorocarbon, or wrapped metal, and are plucked with the fingers using a similar technique to the pedal harp.

Folk harps with levers installed have a lever close to the top of each string; when it is engaged, it shortens the string so its pitch is raised a semitone, resulting in a sharped note if the string was a natural, or a natural note if the string was a flat. Lever harps are often tuned to the key C or E-flat. Using this scheme, the major keys of E-flat, B-flat, F, C, G, D, A, and E can be reached by changing lever positions, rather than re-tuning any strings. Many smaller folk harps are tuned in C or F, and may have no levers, or levers on the F and C strings only, allowing a narrower range of keys. Blades and hooks perform almost the same function as levers, but use a different mechanism. The most common type of lever is either the Camac or Truitt lever although Loveland levers are still used by some makers.

One of the attendant problems with lever harps is the potential loss of quality when the levers are used. The Teifi semi tone developed by Allan Shiers is a development from traditional mechanisms and nips up the string with two forks similarly to a concert harp. The semi tone is double locking for a full clear sound and does not wear the string. It is machined from solid brass and hardened steel and is adjustable by an eccentric roller to suit any gauge of string. In addition, the whole unit can be moved up or down to affect perfect pitch and string alignment. The lever arms are coloured for ease of note recognition and two sizes are made to suit treble, mid and bass.

Alan Stivell is a well-known crossover and Celtic harpist. He first recorded an EP record, "Musique Gaélique," in 1959, then an LP in 1964 called "Telenn Geltiek " (available in CD). Following these, he has released 21 other albums including his harps, from 1970 until now (the last one is "Explore" - 2006- ). He also recorded some albums especially dedicated to the harp: the famous Renaissance of the Celtic Harp (1972), "Harpes du Nouvel Age" (1985), and "Beyond Words" (2002). He helped to promote developments in Electro-acoustic and Electric harps.[3]

Electric instruments

Amplified (electro-acoustic) and solid body electric lever harps are produced by many harpmakers at this time, such as Lyon and Healy Harps out of Chicago, Salvi Harps out of Italy, and Camac Harps out of France.

The Laser harp is also not a stringed instrument; it is a harp-shaped electronic instrument with laser beams where harps have strings.

Wire-strung instruments ("clàrsach" or "cláirseach")

[[File:|150px|thumb|The harper on the Monifeith Pictish stone, Scotland, 700 - 900 AD]]

File:Irish
Maedoc book-cover, Ireland, circa 1000 AD
File:Celtic harp
The Scottish medieval clàrsach 'Queen Mary harp' 'Clàrsach na Banrigh Màiri, (c.1400) [4] now in the Museum of Scotland, is a one of only three surviving medieval Gaelic harps.

The Gaelic triangular, wire-strung harp has always been known by the feminine term cruit but by 1204 was certainly known by the masculine term 'clàr' (board) and, by the 14th century, by the feminine form of 'clàr', i.e., 'clàirseach/clàrsach'. (Gd.)

Clàirseach/clàrsach is a compound word, feminine in gender and composed of the masculine word 'clàr' (board/harp) and the feminising suffix '-search/-sach'. The suggestion that it is composed of the elements 'clàr' (board) and 'shoileach' (willow) is a much less likely explanation as i) the 'clàr shoileach' term is masculine in gender, taking the masculine form of the definite article, and ii) the /s/ phoneme is absent (replaced by an /h/ phoneme) and therefore the /l/ phoneme would be more likely to form part of any contraction (e.g., clàirleach).

The origins of the Gaelic triangular harp go back at least to the first millennium. There are several stone carvings of triangular harps from the 10th century, many of which have simple triangular shapes, generally with straight pillars, straight string arms or necks, and soundboxes. There is stone carving evidence that the lyre and/or perhaps a non-triangular harp were present in Ireland[citation needed] during the first millennium. Evidence for the triangular harp in Gaelic/Pictish Scotland dates from the 9th century.[5]

The harp was the most popular musical instrument in later medieval Scotland and Ireland and Gaelic poets portrayed their Pictish counterparts as very much like themselves.[6]

Scotland, because of her affinity and intercourse [with Ireland], tries to imitate Ireland in music and strives in emulation. Ireland uses and delights in two instruments only, the harp namely, and the tympanum. Scotland uses three, the harp, the tympanum and the crowd. In the opinion, however, of many, Scotland has by now not only caught up on Ireland, her instructor, but already far outdistances her and excels her in musical skill. Therefore, [Irish] people now look to that country as the fountain of the art.

The harp played by the Gaels of Scotland and Ireland between the 11th and 19th centuries was certainly wire-strung. The Irish Maedoc Book Shrine dates from the 11th century, and clearly shows a harper with a triangular framed harp including a "T-Section" in the pillar. The Irish word lamhchrann came into use at an unknown date to indicate this pillar which would have supplied the bracing to withstand the tension of a wire-strung harp.

The Irish and Highland Harps by Robert Bruce Armstrong is an excellent book describing these ancient harps. There is historical evidence that the types of wire used in these harps are iron, brass, silver, and gold. Three pre-16th century examples survive today; the Brian Boru Harp in Trinity College, Dublin, and the Queen Mary and Lamont Harps, both in Scotland.

One of the largest and most complete collections of 17th century harp music is the work of Turlough O'Carolan, a blind, itinerant Irish harper and composer. At least 220 of his compositions survive to this day.

Since the 1970s, the tradition has been revived. Alan Stivell's Renaissance de la Harpe Celtique (perhaps the best-seller harp album in the world), using mainly the bronze strung harp, and his tours, have brought the instrument into the ears and the love of many people.[3] Ann Heymann has revived the ancient tradition and technique by playing the instrument as well as studying Bunting's original manuscripts in the library of Queens University, Belfast. Katie Targett-Adams ( KT-A) is currently leading the modern day crossover movement for the clarsach, performing to mainstream audiences across the globe, notably China. Other high profile players include Patrick Ball, Cynthia Cathcart, Alison Kinnaird, Bill Taylor, Siobhán Armstrong and others.

As performers have become interested in the instrument, harp makers ("luthiers") such as Jay Witcher, David Kortier, Ardival Harps, Joël Herrou and others have begun building wire-strung harps. The traditional wire materials are used, however iron has been replaced by steel and the modern phosphor bronze has been added to the list. The phosphor bronze and brass are most commonly used. Steel tends to be very abrasive to the nails. Silver and gold are used to get high density materials into the bass courses of high quality clàrsachs to greatly improve their tone quality. In the period, no sharping devices were used. Harpers had to re-tune strings to change keys. This practice is reflected by most of the modern luthiers, yet some allow provisions for either levers or blades.

Multi-course

A multi-course harp is a harp with more than one row of strings. A harp with only one row of strings is called a single-course harp.

File:Double
Double harp

A double-strung harp consists of two rows of diatonic strings one on either side of the neck. These strings may run parallel to each other or may converge so the bottom ends of the strings are very close together. Either way, the strings that are next to each other are tuned to the same note. Double-strung harps often have levers either on every string or on the most commonly sharped strings, for example C and F. Having two sets of strings allows the harpist's left and right hands to occupy the same range of notes without having both hands attempt to play the same string at the same time. It also allows for special effects such as repeating a note very quickly without stopping the sound from the previous note.

A triple harp features three rows of parallel strings, two outer rows of diatonic strings, and a center row of chromatic strings. To play a sharp, the harpist reaches in between the strings in either outer row and plucks the center row string. Like the double-strung harp, the two outer rows of strings are tuned the same, but the triple-strung harp has no levers. This harp originated in Italy in the 16th century as a low headed instrument, and towards the end of 17th century it arrived in Wales where it developed a high head and larger size. It established itself as part of Welsh tradition and became known as the Welsh harp (telyn deires, "three-row harp"). The traditional design has all of the strings strung from the left side of the neck, but modern neck designs have the two outer rows of strings strung from opposite sides of the neck to greatly reduce the tendency for the neck to roll over to the left.

File:Cross
Cross-strung harp

The cross-strung harp consists of one row of diatonically tuned strings and another row of chromatic notes. These strings cross approximately in the middle of the string without touching. Traditionally the diatonic row runs from the right (as seen by someone sitting at the harp) side of the neck to the left side of the sound board. The chromatic row runs from the left of the neck to the right of the sound board. The diatonic row has the normal string coloration for a harp, but the chromatic row may be black. The chromatic row is not a full set of strings. It is missing the strings between the Es and Fs in the diatonic row and between the Bs and Cs in the diatonic row. In this respect it is much like a piano. The diatonic row corresponds to the white keys and the chromatic row to the black keys. Playing each string in succession results in a complete chromatic scale.

An alternate form of the cross-strung, the 6/6 or isomorphic cross-strung, has 6 strings on each side of the cross instead of 5 on one and 7 on the other. This configuration is less intuitive to someone coming from a piano/organ background, but more intuitive to someone with a guitar/violin or other chromatic or whole-tone instrument background because it utilizes a chromatic scale or wholetone scale. This configuration gives the entire octave in only 6 strings per side, making more efficient use of the size of the instrument.

As a symbol

Political

The harp has been used as a political symbol of Ireland for centuries. Its origin is from the time of Brian Boru, a famous 'High King' of the whole island of Ireland who played the harp. In Celtic society every clan would have a resident harp player who would write songs in honour of the leader. These were called Planxties. This evolved and would eventually be adapted as a symbol and representation of the Kingdom of Ireland from 1542. It was used to symbolize Ireland in the Royal Standard of King James VI/I of Scotland, England and Ireland in 1603 and had continued to feature on all English and United Kingdom Royal Standards ever since, though the style of harp used differed on some Royal Standards. It was also used on the Commonwealth Jack of Oliver Cromwell, issued in 1649 and on the Protectorate Jack issued in 1658 as well as on the Lord Protector's Standard issued on the succession of Richard Cromwell in 1658. The harp is also traditionally used on the flag of Leinster.

Since 1922, the government of southern Ireland has used a similar left-facing harp, based on the Trinity College Harp in the Library of Trinity College Dublin as its state symbol. It first appeared on the Great Seal of the Irish Free State, which in turn was replaced by the coat of arms, the Irish Presidential Standard and the Presidential Seal in the 1937 Constitution of Ireland. The harp appears on various other official state seals and documents as well as the Irish passport. The harp has also appeared on Irish coinage from the Middle Ages to the current Irish imprints of the Euro coins.

A South Asian version of a harp known in Tamil as a 'yaal', is the symbol of City of Jaffna, Sri Lanka, whose legendary root originates from a harp player.

Corporate

The harp is also used extensively as a corporate logo — both private and government organisations. For instance; Ireland's most famous drink, Guinness, also uses a harp, facing right and also less detailed than the state arms. This was the second London-registered trademark in the 1860s, but was not used until the 1870s, when it was placed on bottles of stout exported to Britain, in the hope that British consumers would associate the drink with wholesome Irish agricultural produce. It was adopted on Guinness products in Ireland from the 1890s, for a different reason; to remind supporters of the growing nationalist movement that Guinness was Irish.[8] A simplified harp was adopted in the 1990s.

Relatively new organizations also use the harp, but often modified to reflect a theme relevant to their organization, for instance; Irish airline Ryanair uses a modified harp, and the Irish State Examinations Commission uses it with an educational theme.

The harp is also used as the logo for League of Ireland football team Finn Harps, who are Donegal's senior soccer club.

Other organizations in Ireland use the harp, but not always prominently; these include the National University of Ireland and the associated University College Dublin, and the Gaelic Athletic Association. In Northern Ireland the Police Service of Northern Ireland and Queen's University of Belfast use the harp as part of their identity.

See also

Related categories

References

  1. ^ Dave Black and Tom Gerou, "Essential Dictionary of Orchestration." Alfred Publishing Co. ISBN 0-7390-0021-7
  2. ^ Bova 2008, pp. 607-617
  3. ^ a b c JT Koch (ed). Celtic Culture. A Historical Encyclopaedia ABC-CLIO 2006 pp 1627-1628
  4. ^ Caldwell, D.H. (ed). Angels Nobles and Unicorns: Art and Patronage in Medieval Scotland. Edinburgh: NMS, 1982
  5. ^ "The Origins of the Clairsach or Irish Harp", Musical Times, Vol. 53, No 828 (Feb 1912), pp 89-92.
  6. ^ Forsyth, "Evidence of a lost Pictish Source", pp. 27–28.
  7. ^ Gerald of Wales, "Topographia Hibernica", 94; tr. John O’ Meary, The History and Topography of Ireland, (London, 1982).
  8. ^ Dennison & McDonagh Guinness 1886-1939 (London 1992) passim.

Additional sources

  • Lucia Bova, L'arpa moderna. La scrittura e la notazione, lo strumento e il repertorio dal '500 alla contemporaneità, preface by Luis de Pablo, Suvini Zerboni, Milano, 2008. ISBN 978-88-900691-4-7
  • "The Anglo Saxon Harp", Spectrum, Vol. 71, No.2 (Apr., 1996), pp 290–320.
  • "The Origins of the Clairsach or Irish Harp", Musical Times, Vol. 53, No 828 (Feb 1912), pp 89–92.
  • Alasdair Ross discusses that all the Scottish harp figures were copied from foreign drawings and not from life, in "'Harps of Their Owne Sorte'? A Reassessment of Pictish Chordophone Depictions", Cambrian Medieval Celtic Studies 36, Winter 1998.
  • Snyder's Medieval Art, 2nd ed, p. 32. Luttikhuizen and Verkerk.
  • Courteau, Mona-Lynn. "Harp". In J. Shepherd, D. Horn, D. Laing, P. Oliver and P. Wicke (Eds.), The Continuum Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World, Vol. 2, 2003, pp. 427–437.
  • Montagu, Jeremy (2002). "Harp". In Alison Latham. The Oxford Companion to Music. London: Oxford University Press. pp. 564. ISBN 0198662122. OCLC 59376677. 
  • Rensch, Roslyn (2007/1989). Harps and Harpists, revised (2nd) edition. Indiana University. ISBN 0-253-34903-6.

External links

Celtic harp


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

The harp is a stringed musical instrument.

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  • Harpists spend 90% of their time tuning their harps and 10% playing out of tune.

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Wikipedia
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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

HARP (Fr. harpe; Ger. Harfe; Ital. area), a member of the class of stringed instruments of which the strings are twanged or vibrated by the fingers. The harp is an instrument of beautiful proportions, approximating to a triangular form, the strings diminishing in length as they ascend in pitch. The mechanism is concealed within the different parts of which the instrument is composed, (r) the pedestal or pedal-box, on which rest (2) the vertical pillar, and (3) the inclined convex body in which the soundboard is fixed, (4) the curved neck, with (5) the comb concealing the mechanism for stopping the strings, supported by the pillar and the body.

(r) The pedestal or pedal-box forms the base of the harp and contains seven pedals both in single and double action harps, the difference being that in the single action the pedals are only capable of raising the strings one semitone by means of a drop into a notch, whereas with the double action the pedals, after a first drop, can by a further drop into a second and lower notch shorten the string a second semitone, whereby each string is made to serve in turn for flat, natural and sharp. The harp is normally in the key of C flat major, and each of the seven pedals acts upon one of the notes of this diatonic scale throughout the compass. The choice of this method of tuning was imposed by the construction of the harp with double action. The pedals remain in the notches until released by the foot, when the pedal returns to its normal position through the action of a spiral spring, which may be seen under each of the pedals by turning the harp up.

(2) The vertical pillar is a kind of tunnel in which are placed the seven rods worked by the pedals, which set in motion the mechanism situated in the neck of the instrument. Although the pillar apparently rests on the pedestal, it is really supported by a brass shoulder firmly screwed to the beam which forms the lowest part of the body, a connexion which remains undisturbed when the pedal box and its cover are removed.

(3) The body or sound-chest of the harp is in shape like the longitudinal section of a cone. It was formerly composed of staves joined together as in the lute and mandoline. Erard was the first to make it in two pieces of wood, generally sycamore, with the addition of a flat soundboard of Swiss pine. The body is strengthened on the inside, in order to resist the tension of the strings, by means of ribs; there are five soundholes in the back, which in the older models were furnished with swell shutters opened at will by the swell pedal, the fourth from the left worked by the left foot. As the increase of sound obtained by means of the swell was infinitesimal, the device has now been discarded. The harp is strung by knotting the end of the string and passing it through its hole in the centre of the soundboard, where it is kept in position by means of a grooved peg which grips the string.

(4) The neck consists of a curved piece of wood resting on the body at the treble end of the instrument and joining the pillar at the bass end. In the neck are set the tuning pins round which are wound the strings.

(5) The comb is the name given to two brass plates or covers which fit over both sides of the neck, concealing part of the mechanism for shortening the strings and raising their pitch a semitone when actuated by the pedals. On the front plate of the comb, to the left of the player, is a row of brass bridges against which the strings rest below the tuning pins, and which determine the vibrating length of the string reckoned from the peg in the soundboard. Below the bridges are two rows of brass disks, known as forks, connected by steel levers; each disk is equipped with two studs for grasping the string and shortening it. The mechanism is ingenious. When a pedal is depressed to the first notch, the corresponding lower disk turns a little way on a mandrel keeping the studs clear of the string. The upper disk, set in motion by the steel levers connecting the disks, revolves simultaneously till the string is caught by the two studs which thus form a new bridge, shortening the vibrating length of the string by just the length necessary to raise the pitch a sei.iitone. If the same pedal be depressed to the second notch, another movement causes the lower disk to revolve again till the string is a second time seized and shortened, the upper disk remaining stationary. The hidden mechanism meanwhile has gone through a series of movements; the pedal is really a lever set upon a spring, and when depressed it draws down the connecting rod in the pillar which sets in motion chains governing the mandrels of the disks.

The harp usually has forty-six strings, of gut in the middle and upper registers, and of covered steel wire in the bass; the C strings are red and the F strings blue. The compass thus has a range of Sva.

62 octaves from tz?

used as for the pianoforte. The single action harp used to be tuned to the key of Eb major.

The modern harp with double action is the only instrument with fixed tones, not determined by the ear or touch of the performer, which has separate notes for naturals, sharps and flats, giving it an enharmonic compass. On the harp the appreciable interval between D# and Eb can be played. The harp in its normal condition is tuned to Cb major; it rests with the performer to transpose it at will in a few seconds into any other key by means of the pedals. Each of the pedals influences one note of the scale throughout the compass, beginning at the left with D, C, and B worked by the left foot. Missing the fourth or forte pedal, and continuing towards the right we get the E, F, G and A pedals worked by the right foot. By lowering the D pedal into the first notch the Db becomes D, and into the second notch D#, and so on for all the pedals. If, for example, a piece be written in the key of E major, the harp is transposed into that key by depressing the E, A, and B pedals to the first notch, and those for F, G, C and D to the second or sharp notch and so on through all the keys. Accidentals and modulations are readily played by means of the pedals, provided the transitions be not too rapid. The harp is the instrument upon which transposition presents the least difficulty, for the fingering is the same for all keys. The strings are twanged with the thumbs and the first three fingers.

The quality of tone does not vary much in the different registers, but it has the greatest brilliancy in keys with many flats, for the strings are then open and not shortened by the forks. Various effects can be obtained on the harp: (I) by harmonics, (2) by damping, (3) by guitar tones, (4) by the glissando. (I) Harmonics are produced by resting the ball of the hand on the middle of the string and setting it in vibration by the thumb or the first two fingers of the same hand, whereby a mysterious and beautiful tone is obtained. Two or three harmonics can be played together with the left hand, and by using both hands at once as many as four are possible. (2) Damping is effected by laying the palm against the string in the bass and the back of the finger in the treble. (3) Guitar or pizzicato notes are obtained by twanging the strings sharply at the lower end near the soundboard with the nails. (4) The glissando effect is produced, as on the pianoforte, by sliding the thumb or finger along the strings in quick succession; this does not necessarily give the diatonic scale, for by means of the pedals the harp can be tuned beforehand to chords. It is possible to play on the harp all kinds of diatonic and arpeggio passages, but no chromatic, except in very slow tempo, on account of the time required by the mechanism of the pedals; and chords of three or four notes in each hand, shakes, turns, successions of double notes can be easily acquired. The same note can also be repeated slowly or quickly, the next string being tuned to a duplicate note, and the two strings plucked alternately in order to give the string time to vibrate.

Pleyel's chromatic harp, patented in 1894 and improved in 1903 by Gustave Lyon, manager of the firm of Pleyel, Wolff & Co., is an instrument practically without mechanism which has already won great favour in France and Belgium, notably in the orchestra. It has been constructed on the familiar lines of the pianoforte. Henry Pape, a piano manufacturer, had in 1845 conceived the idea of a chromatic harp of which the strings crossed in the centre as in the piano, and a report on the construction was published at the time; the instrument, however, was not considered successful, and was relegated to oblivion until Mr Lyon revised the matter and brought out a successful and practical instrument. The advantages claimed for this harp are the abandonment of the whole pedal mechanism, a metal framing which insures the strings keeping in tune as long as those of a piano, and an easily acquired technique. The chromatic harp consists of (I) a pedestal on castors, (2) a steel pillar without internal mechanism, (3) a wide neck containing two brass wrest-planks in which are fixed two rows of tuning pins, and (4) a soundchest in which is firmly riveted the steel plate to which the strings are fastened, and the soundboard pierced with eyelet holes through which the strings are drawn to the string plate. There is a string for every chromatic semitone of the scale of C major, the white strings representing the white keys of the piano keyboard, and the black strings corresponding to the black keys. The tuning pins for the black strings are set in the left side of the neck in alternate groups of twos and threes, and those for the white in the right side in alternate groups of threes and fours. The strings cross half-way between neck and soundboard, this being the point where they are plucked; the left hand finds the black notes above, and the right hand below the crossing. There is besides in the neck a set of twelve tuning buttons, each one of which on being pressed gives out one note of the chromatic scale tuned to the pitch of the diapason normal. It is obvious that the repertoire for this harp is very extensive, including many compositions written for the piano, which however cannot be played with any legato effects, these being still impossible on this chromatic harp.

History

While the instrument is of great antiquity, it is yet from northern Europe that the modern harp and its name are derived. The Greeks and Romans preferred to it the lyre in its different varieties, and a Latin writer, Venantius Fortunatus, 1 describes it in the 7th century of our era as an instrument of the barbarians- "Romanusque lyra, plaudat tibi barbarus harpa." This is believed to be the earliest mention of the name, which is clearly Teutonic,- O.H.Ger. harapha, A.-S. hearpe, Old Norse harpa. The modern Fr. harpe retains the aspirate; in the Spanish and Italian area it is dropped.

The earliest delineations of the harp in Egypt give no indication that it had not existed long before. There are, indeed, representations in Egyptian paintings of stringed instruments of a bow-form having affinities with both primitive harp and nefer (a kind of oval guitar) that support the idea of the invention of the harp from the tense string of the warrior's or hunter's bow. This primitivelooking instrument, called nanga, had a boatshaped sound-chest with a parchment or skin soundboard, down the centre of which one end of the string was fastened to a strip of wood, whilst the other was wound round pegs in the upper part of the bow. The nanga was FIG. I.

played horizontally, being borne upon the performer's shoulder.2 Between it and the grand vertical harps in the frescos of the time of Rameses III., more than 3000 years old, discovered by the traveller Bruce 3 (fig. 1), there are varieties that permit us to bind the whole, 1 Poemata, lib. vii. cap. 8, p. 245, Migne's Patrologiae cursus completus (Paris, 1857-1866, vol. 88).

2 A few nangas (c. 1500 B.C.) are preserved among the Egyptian antiquities at the British Museum, fourth Egyptian room.

3 Bruce's harps are reproduced by Champollion, tome iii. p. 261.

or 1.

The double stave is

from the simplest bow-form to the almost triangular harp, into one family (see fig. 2).

The Egyptian harp had no front pillar, and as it was strung with catgut the tension and pitch must necessarily have been low. The harps above - mentioned depicted in the tomb at Thebes, assumed from the players to be more than 6 ft. high, have not many strings, the one having ten, the other thirteen. What the accordance of these strings was it would be hard to recover. We must be content with the knowledge that the old Egyptians possessed harps in principle like our FIG. 2. own, the largest having pedestals upon which they bestowed a wealth of decoration, as if to show how much they prized them.

The ancient Assyrians had harps like those of Egypt in being without a front pillar, but differing from them in having the soundbody uppermost, in which we find the early use of soundholes; while the lower portion was a bar to which the strings were tied and by means of which the tuning was apparently effected.' What the Hebrew harp was, whether it followed the Egyptian or the Assyrian, we do not know. That King David played upon the harp as commonly depicted is rather a modern idea. Medieval artists frequently gave King David the psaltery, a horizontal stringed instrument from which has gradually developed the modern piano. The Hebrew "kinnor" may have been a kind of trigonon, a triangular stringed instrument between a small harp and a psaltery, sounded by a plectrum, or more probably, as advocated by Dr Stainer in his essay on the music of the Bible, a kind of lyre.

The earliest records that we possess of the Celtic race, whether Gaelic or Cymric, give the harp a prominent place and harpists peculiar veneration and distinction. The names for the harp are, however, quite different from the Teutonic. The Irish "clairseach," the Highland Scottish "clarsach," the Welsh, Cornish, Breton "telyn," "telein," "tel y n," show no etymological kinship to the other European names. The first syllable in clairseach or clarsach is derived from the Gaelic "clar," a board or table (soundboard), while the first syllable of telyn is distinctly Old Welsh, and has a tensile meaning; thus resonance supplies the one idea, tension the other.

The literature of these Celtic harps may be most directly found in Bunting's Ancient Music of Ireland (Dublin, 1840), Gunn's Historical Enquiry respecting the Performance on the Harp in the Highlands of Scotland (Edinburgh, 1807), and E. Jones's Musical and Poetical Memoirs of the Welsh Bards (London, 1784). The treatises of Walker, Dalyell, and others may also be consulted; but in all these authorities due care must be taken of the bias of patriotism, and the delusive aim to reconstruct much that we must be content to receive as only vaguely indicated in records and old monuments. There is, however, one early Irish monument about which there can be no mistake, the harp upon a cross belonging to the ancient church of Ullard near Kilkenny, the date of which cannot be later than 830; the sculpture is rude, but the instrument is clearly shown by the drawing in Bunting's work to have no front pillar. This remarkable structural likeness to the old harps of Egypt and Assyria may be accidental, but permits the plausible hypothesis of Eastern descent. The oldest specimen of the beautiful form by which the Irish harp is now recognized, with gracefully curved front pillar and sweep of neck (the latter known as the harmonic curve), is the famous harp in Trinity College, Dublin, the possession of which has been attributed to King Brian Boiroimhe. From this mythic ownership Dr Petrie (see essay in Bunting) has delivered it; but he can only deduce the age from the ornamentation and heraldry, which fix its date in the 14th century or a little later. There is a cast of it in the Victoria and Albert Museum. The next oldest is in the Highlands of Scotland, the Clarsach Lumanach, or Lamont's Clarschoe, belonging, with another of later date, to the old Perthshire family of Robertson of Lude. Both are described in detail by Gunn. This Lamont harp was taken by a lady of that family from Argyleshire about 1460, on her marriage into the family of Lude. It had about thirty strings tuned singly, but the scale was sometimes doubled in pairs of unisons like lutes and other contemporary instruments. The Dalway harp in Ireland (fig. 3) inscribed "Ego sum Regina Cithararum," and dated 1621, appears to have had pairs of strings in the centre only. These were of brass wire, and played with the pointed finger-nails. The Italian contemporary "Arpa Doppia" was entirely upon the duplex principle, but with gut strings played by the fleshy ends of the fingers. When E. Bunting met at Belfast in 1792 as Representations of these may be seen among the musical scenes in the Nimrod Gallery at the British Museum.

many Irish harpers as could be at that late date assembled, he found the compass of their harps to comprise 0 thirty notes which were tuned diatonically in the key - Of G, under certain circumstances transposable to C and rarely to D, the scales being the major of these keys. The harp first appeared in the coat of arms of Ireland in the reign of Henry VIII.; and some years after in a map of 1567 preserved in a volume of state papers, we find it truly drawn according to the outlines of the national Irish instrument. 2 References to the Highlands of Scotland are of necessity included with Ireland; and in both we find another name erroneously applied by lexicographers to the harp, viz. "cruit." Bunting particularly mentions the "cinnard cruit" (harp with a high head) and the "crom cruit" (the curved harp). In the Ossianic MSS. of the Dean of Lismore (1512) the word "crwt" occurs several times, and in Neill M'Alpine's Gaelic Dictionary (3832), which gives the dialect of Islay, closely related to that of Ulster, the word "cruit" is rendered "harp." The confusion doubtless arose from the fact that from the 1lth century cithara is glossed hearpan in Anglo-Saxon MSS., a word which, like citharisare in medieval Latin, referred to plucking or twanging of strings in contradistinction to those instru ments vibrated by means of the bow. In FIG. 3.

Irish of the 8th and 9th centuries (Zeuss) Irish (Dalway) Harp. cithara is always glossed by "crot." The modern Welsh "crwth" is not a harp but a "rotta" (see Crowd). An old Welsh harp, not triple strung, exists, which bears a great resemblance to the Irish harp in neck, soundboard and soundholes. But this does not imply derivation of the harp of Wales from that of Ireland or the reverse. There is really no good historical evidence, and there may have been a common or distinct origin on which ethnology only can throw light.' The Welsh like the Irish harp was often an hereditary instrument to be preserved with great care and veneration, and used by the bards of the family, who were alike the poet-musicians and historians. A slave was not allowed to touch a harp, and it was exempted by the Welsh laws from seizure for debt. The old Welsh harp appears to have been at one time strung with horse-hair, and by the Eisteddfod laws the pupil spent his noviciate of three years in the practice of a harp with that stringing. The comparatively modern Welsh triple harp (fig. 4) is always strung with gut. It has a rising neck as before stated, and three rows of strings, - the outer rows tuned diatonic, the centre one chromatic for the sharps and flats. Jones gives it 98 strings and a compass of 5 octaves and one note, from violoncello C. As in all Celtic harps, the left is the treble hand, and in the triple harps there are 27 strings on that side, the right or bass hand having 37, and the middle or chromatic row 34.

The first pattern of the modern harp is discovered in German and Anglo-Saxon illuminated MSS. as far back as the 9th century. 4 A diatonic instrument, it must have been common throughout Europe, as Orcagna, Fra Angelico, and other famous Italian painters depict it over and over !

again in their masterpieces. No accidental semitones were possible with this instrument, unless the strings were shortened by the player's fingers. This lasted until the 17th century, when a Tirolese maker adapted hooks 3 (perhaps FIG. 4 suggested by the fretted or bonded clavichord) WelshTripleHarp. that, screwed into the neck, could be turned downwards to fix the desired semitone at pleasure. At last, somewhere about 1720, Hochbrucker, a Bavarian, invented pedals that, acting through the pedestal of the instrument, governed by mechanism the stopping, and thus left the player's hands free, an indisputable advantage; and it became possible at once to play in no less 2 See also a woodcut in John Derrick's Image of Ireland (1581), pl. iii. (Edinburgh ed. 1883).

See the fine volume Musical Instruments on the Irish and Scottish harps by Robert Bruce Armstrong (1904), vol. i. Vol. ii., which deals with the Welsh harp, has unfortunately been withdrawn from sale.

See for the medieval harp a careful article by Hortense Panum, "Harfe and Lyra im alten Nord-Europa," in Intern. Illus. Ges. vol. vii. pt. 1 (Leipzig, 1905); and for references as to illuminated MSS., early woodcuts, paintings, &c. see Hugo Leichtentritt, "Was lehren uns die Bildwerke des 14-17 Jahrhunderts tither die Instrumentalmusik ihrer Zeit ?" ibid. vol. vii. p. 3 (Leipzig, 1906).

See Nauwerk, "Die Hakenharfe, Die Vervollkommnung des Mechanismus an der deutschen Harfe." in Allg. musik. Ztg. (Leipzig, 181 5), p. 545 seq.

than eight major scales. By a sequence of improvements, in which two Frenchmen named Cousineau took an important part, the various defects inherent in Hochbrucker's plan became ameliorated. The pedals were doubled, and, the tuning of the instrument being changed from the key of Eb to Cb, it became possible to play in fifteen keys, thus exceeding the power of the keyboard instruments, over which the harp has another important advantage in the simplicity of the fingering, which is the same for every key.

It is to Sebastian Erard we owe the perfecting of the pedal harp (fig. 5), a triumph he gained in Paris by unremitting studies begun when he adopted a "fork" mechanism in 1786 and ended in 1810 when he had attained complete success with the double action pedal mechanism already described above. Erard's merit was not confined to this improvement only; he modified the structure of the comb that conceals the mechanism, and constructed the sound-body of the instrument upon a modern principle more advantageous to the tone.

Notwithstanding these improvements and the great beauty of tone the harp possesses, the domestic use of it in modern times has almost disappeared. The great cost of a good harp, and the trouble to many amateurs of tuning, may have led to the supplanting of the harp by the more convenient and useful pianoforte. With this comes naturally a diminution in FIG. 5. the number of solo-players on the instru - Modern Erard Harp. ment. Were it not for the increasing use of the harp in the orchestra, the colour of its tone having attracted the masters of instrumentation, so that the great scores of Meyerbeer and Gounod, of Berlioz, Liszt and Wagner are not complete without it, we should perhaps know little more of the harp than of the dulcimer, in spite of the efforts of distinguished virtuosi whose devotion to their instrument maintains its technique on an equality with that of any other, even the most in public favour. The first record of the use of harps in the orchestra occurs in the account of the Ballet comique de la royne performed at the château de Moutiers on the occasion of the marriage of Mary of Lorraine with the duc de Joyeuse in 1581, when harps formed part of the concert de musique. See in addition to the works already referred to, Engel's Musical Instruments in the South Kensington Museum (1874); and the articles "Harp," in Rees's Cyclopaedia, written by Dr Burney, in Stainer and Barrett's Dictionary of Musical Terms (1876), and in Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians. On the origins of the instrument see Proceedings of British Association (1904) (address of president of anthropological section). (K. S.; A. J. H.)


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Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also harp

English

Proper noun

Singular
Harp

Plural
-

Harp

  1. An occupational surname for a player of the harp.

Anagrams

  • Anagrams of ahpr
  • PHAR

Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki


(Heb. kinnor), the national instrument of the Hebrews. It was invented by Jubal (Gen 4:21). Some think the word kinnor denotes the whole class of stringed instruments. It was used as an accompaniment to songs of cheerfulness as well as of praise to God (Gen 31:27; 1Sam 16:23; 2Chr 20:28; Ps 332; 137:2).

In Solomon's time harps were made of almug-trees (1 Kg 10:11, 12). In 1Chr 15:21 mention is made of "harps on the Sheminith;" Revised Version, "harps set to the Sheminith;" better perhaps "harps of eight strings." The soothing effect of the music of the harp is referred to 1Sam 16:16, 23; 18:10; 19:9. The church in heaven is represented as celebrating the triumphs of the Redeemer "harping with their harps" (Rev 14:2).

This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

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Simple English

File:Celtic
Celtic harps
File:Maler der Grabkammer des Nacht
Musicians of Amun, Tomb of Nakht, 18th Dyn, Western Thebes. The musician on the right is playing an old Egyptian harp.

[[File:|thumb|right|200px|Lady with Harp: Eliza Ridgely, this painting shows an early kind of Pedal Harp. (Thomas Sully, 1818)]]

The harp is a musical instrument. It is the second biggest string instrument in an orchestra. It dates back to 4000 BC when the Egyptians used them in holy places. Christian artists often draw angels playing harps in Heaven.

Contents

Parts of harps

All harps must have strings. Each string must be tight, so it makes the right sound or note for that string. The strings are tied to the frame.

The frame is usually a wood triangle. It must be strong, so that the many tight strings do not break it.

The side of the triangle that leans on the player's body, is the sound-box. Empty boxes can make sounds louder.

The top side of the triangle has a lot of pegs in it. There is one peg for each string on the harp. The top of each string is tied to one peg, and twisted around the peg. The player turns the peg to make the string more tight or less tight. This is how the player makes each string make the right note. The bottom of each string is tied to the sound-box.

The last side of the triangle is called the pillar. The oldest harps from Egypt did not have pillars. If the strings were too tight, they would break the harp. Adding a pillar to a harp frame makes the frame very strong, so that the strings will not break it.

Playing a harp

Harp players pluck the strings with their fingers. This makes the strings move so that the strings make sounds. Each string sound is a different musical note. Harp players play songs by plucking the strings in the right order and at the right time. More than one string can be plucked at the same time. When the harp player wants a note to stop, they touch that string softly, so that it stops moving.

Kinds of harps

There are many different kinds of harps. The two main kinds are folk harps and pedal harps.

Folk harps are the older kind of harp. Each string makes one note. They are usually tuned so that playing each string in order sounds like playing all the white notes on a piano in order. This is called a diatonic scale. In some places, they are tuned so that playing each string in order sounds like playing all the black notes on a piano in order. This is called a pentatonic scale.

Folk harps can be found in many different sizes. The smallest ones can be less than half a meter tall. The biggest ones can be almost 1.5 meters tall, and have a foot so they can stand on the ground by themselves. They can be too big to be lifted by one person.

The number of strings varies on folk harps from less than 20 to more than 40.

Pedal harps were invented during the 1800's CE, by a man in France. This is the kind of harp that is used in a Symphony Orchestra. Pedal harps are about two meters tall and have about 50 strings. The lowest and highest notes on a pedal harp are the same as the lowest and highest notes on a piano. They are very heavy, and need more than one person to move them. The frame is usually made out of metal.

The pedal harp is tuned like the white keys on a piano (a diatonic scale). There are seven pedals to let the harp player play songs in different musical keys. Each pedal has three places. For the A pedal, place-1 makes all the A strings on the harp sound like A-flat. Place-2 makes all the A strings sound like a normal A (A-natural). Place-3 makes all the A strings sound like A-sharp.

Things that are not harps

Some instruments have the word harp in their name, but they are not really harps. The harp is such an old musical instrument, that people sometimes say harp when they mean any kind of instrument.

  • A blues harp is a harmonica (used to play jazz or blues music).
  • A Jew's harp is not a harp, and it is not Jewish.
  • An Aeolian harp is just a box with tuned strings on it. Nobody plucks the strings to make music. The Aeolian harp is placed outdoors where the wind blows. The wind makes the strings move so that they make notes.








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