chordophone sounded by the bare fingers)
The harp is a
Ancient depictions of harps were recorded in
Harps have been known since antiquity in Asia, Africa, and Europe, dating back at least as early as 3000
Although some ancient members of the harp family died out in the Near East and South Asia, descendants of early harps are still played in Myanmar and parts of Africa; other variants defunct in Europe and Asia have been used by folk musicians in the modern era.
The earliest harps and lyres were found in
Around 1900 BCE arched harps in the Iraq-Iran region were replaced by angular harps with vertical or horizontal sound boxes.
By the start of the Common Era, "robust, vertical, angular harps", which had become predominant in the Hellenistic world, were cherished in the
Another early South Asian harp was the ancient veena, not to be confused with the modern Indian veena which is a type of lute. Some Samudragupta gold coins show of the mid-4th century CE show (presumably) the king Samudragupta himself playing the instrument. The ancient veena survives today in Burma, in the form of the saung harp still played there.
The harp was popular in ancient China and neighboring regions, though harps are largely extinct in East Asia in the modern day. The Chinese
While the angle and bow harps held popularity elsewhere, European harps favored the "pillar", a third structural member to support the far ends of the arch and soundbox.
As European harps evolved to play more complex music, a key consideration was some way to facilitate the quick changing of a string's pitch to be able to play more chromatic notes. By the Baroque period in Italy and Spain, more strings were added to allow for chromatic notes in more complex harps. In Germany in the second half of the 17th century, diatonic single-row harps were fitted with manually turned hooks that 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.
The first primitive form of pedal harps was developed in the Tyrol region of Austria. Jacob Hochbrucker was the next to design an improved pedal mechanism around 1720, followed in succession by Krumpholtz, Naderman, and the Erard company, who came up with the double mechanism, in which a second row of hooks was installed along the neck, capable of raising the pitch of a string by either one or two half steps. While one course of European harps led to greater complexity, resulting largely in the modern pedal harp, other harping traditions maintained simpler diatonic instruments which survived and evolved into modern traditions.
In the Americas, harps are widely but sparsely distributed, except in certain regions where the harp traditions are very strong. Such important centeres include Mexico, the Andean region, Venezuela, and Paraguay. They are derived from the Baroque harps that were brought from Spain during the colonial period. Detailed features vary from place to place.
The Paraguayan harp is that country's national instrument, and has gained a worldwide reputation, with international influences alongside folk traditions. They have around 36 strings, are played with fingernails, and with a narrowing spacing and lower tension than modern Western harps, and have a wide and deep soundbox that tapers to the top.
The harp is also found in Argentina, though in Uruguay it was largely displaced in religious music by the organ by the end of the 18th century. The harp is historically found in Brazil, but mostly in the south of the country.
Mexican jarocha harp music of Veracruz has also gained some international recognition, evident in the popularity of "La Bamba".[original research?] The arpa jarocha is typically played while standing. In southern Mexico (Chiapas), there is a very different indigenous style of harp music.
The harp arrived in Venezuela with Spanish colonists. There are two distinct traditions: the arpa llanera ('harp of the Llanos’, or plains) and the arpa central ('of the central area'). By the 2020s, three types of harps are typically found:
- the traditional llanera harp, made of
- the arpa central (also known as arpa mirandina 'of Tuy Valleys’) is strung with wire in the higher register.
- the Venezuelan electric harp
A number of types of harps are found in Africa, predominantly not of the three-sided frame-harp type found in Europe. A number of these, referred to generically as African harps, are bow or angle harps, which lack forepillars joining the neck to the body.
A number of harp-like instruments in Africa are not easily classified with European categories. Instruments like the West African kora and Mauritanian ardin are sometimes labeled as "spike harp", "bridge harp", or harp lute since their construction includes a bridge which holds the strings laterally, vice vertically entering the soundboard.
While lyres and zithers have persisted in the Middle East, most of the true harps of the region have become extinct, though some are undergoing initial revivals. The Turkish çeng was a nine-string harp in the Ottoman Empire which became extinct at the end of the 17th century, but has undergone some revival and evolution since the late 20th century. A similar harp, the changi survives in the Svaneti region of Georgia.
In India, the Bin-Baia harp survives about the Padhar people of Madhya Pradesh. The Kafir harp has been part of Nuristani musical tradition for many years.
The harp largely became extinct in East Asia by the 17th century; around the year 1000, harps like the vajra began to replace prior[clarification needed] harps. A few examples survived to the modern era, particularly Myanmar's saung-gauk, which is considered the national instrument in that country. Though the ancient Chinese konghou has not been directly resurrected, the name has been revived and applied to a modern newly invented instrument based on the Western classical harp, but with the strings doubled back to form two notes per string, allowing advanced techniques such as note-bending.
Modern European and American harps
The concert harp is a technologically advanced instrument, particularly distinguished by its use of "pedals", foot-controlled devices which can alter the pitch of given strings, making it fully
The addition of pedals broadened the harp's abilities, allowing its gradual entry into the classical orchestra, largely beginning in the 19th century. The harp played little or no role in early classical music (being used only a handful of times by major composers such as Mozart and Beethoven), and its usage by
Folk, lever, and Celtic instruments
In the modern era, there is a family of mid-size harps, generally with nylon strings, and optionally with partial or full levers but without pedals. They range from two to six octaves, and are plucked with the fingers using a similar technique to the pedal harp. Though these harps evoke ties to historical European harps, their specifics are modern, and they are frequently referred to broadly as "Celtic harps" due to their region of revival and popular association, or more generically as "folk harps" due to their use in non-classical music, or as "lever harps" to contrast their modifying mechanism with the larger pedal harp.
A multi-course harp is a harp with more than one row of strings, as opposed to the more common "single course" harp. On a double-harp, the two rows generally run parallel to each other, one on either side of the neck, and are usually both diatonic (sometimes with levers) with identical notes.
The triple harp originated in Italy in the 16th century, and arrived in Wales in the late 17th century where it established itself in the local tradition as the Welsh harp (telyn deires, "three-row harp"). The triple consists of two outer rows of identical diatonic strings with a third set of chromatic strings between them. These strings are off set to permit the harpist to reach past the outer row and pluck an inner string if a chromatic note is needed.
Some harps, rather than using pedal or lever devices, achieve chromaticity by simply adding additional strings to cover the notes outside their diatonic home scale. The Welsh triple harp is one such instrument, and two other instruments employing this technique are the cross-strung harp and the inline chromatic harp.
The cross-strung harp has one row of diatonic strings, and a separate row of chromatic notes, angled in an "X" shape so that the row which can be played by the right hand at the top may be played by the left hand at the bottom, and vice versa. This variant was first attested as the arpa de dos órdenes ("two-row harp") in Spain and Portugal, in the 17th century.
The inline chromatic harp is generally a single-course harp with all 12 notes of the chromatic scale appearing in a single row. Single course inline chromatic harps have been produced at least since 1902, when Karl Weigel of Hanover patented a model of inline chromatic harp.
Amplified (electro-acoustic) hollow body and solid body
The late-20th century Gravikord is a modern purpose-built electric double harp made of stainless steel based on the traditional West African kora.
Harps vary globally in many ways. In terms of size, many smaller harps can be played on the lap, whereas larger harps are quite heavy and rest on the floor. Different harps may use strings of catgut, nylon, metal, or some combination.
All harps have a neck, resonator, and strings, frame harps or triangular harps have a pillar at their long end to support the strings, while open harps, such as arch harps and bow harps, do not.
Modern harps also vary in techniques used to extend the range and
Structure and mechanism
Harps are essentially
The longest side of the harp is called the column or pillar (though some earlier harps, such as a "bow harp", lack a pillar). On most harps the sole purpose of the pillar is to hold up the neck against the great strain of the strings. On harps which have pedals (largely the modern concert harp), the pillar is a hollow column and encloses the rods which adjust the pitches, which are levered by pressing pedals at the base of the instrument.
On harps of earlier design, a single string produces only a single pitch unless it is retuned. In many cases this means such a harp can only play in one key at a time and must be retuned to play in another key. Harpers and luthiers have developed various remedies to this limitation:
- the addition of extra strings to cover chromaticnotes (sometimes in separate or angled rows distinct from the main row of strings),
- addition of small levers on the crossbar which when actuated raise the pitch of a string by a set interval (usually a semitone), or
- use of pedals at the base of the instrument, pressed with the foot, which move additional small pegs on the crossbar. The small pegs gently contact the string near the tuning peg, changing the vibrating length, but not the tension, and hence the pitch of the string.
These solutions increase the versatility of a harp at the cost of adding complexity, weight, and expense.
Terminology and etymology
The modern English word harp comes from the Old English hearpe; akin to Old High German harpha. A person who plays a pedal harp is called a "harpist"; a person who plays a folk-harp is called a "harper" or sometimes a "harpist"; either may be called a "harp-player", and the distinctions are not strict.
A number of instruments that are not harps are none-the-less colloquially referred to as "harps". Chordophones like the aeolian harp (wind harp), the autoharp, the psaltery, as well as the piano and harpsichord, are not harps, but zithers, because their strings are parallel to their soundboard. Harps' strings rise approximately perpendicularly from the soundboard. Similarly, the many varieties of harp guitar and harp lute, while chordophones, belong to the lute family and are not true harps. All forms of the lyre and kithara are also not harps, but belong to the fourth family of ancient instruments under the chordophones, the lyres, closely related to the zither family.
The term "harp" has also been applied to many instruments which are not even chordophones. The
As a symbol
The harp has been used as a political symbol of Ireland for centuries. Its origin is unknown but from the evidence of the ancient oral and written literature, it has been present in one form or another since at least the 6th century or before. According to tradition, Brian Boru, High King of Ireland (died at the Battle of Clontarf, 1014) played the harp, as did many of the gentry in the country during the period of the Gaelic Lordship of Ireland (ended c. 1607 with the Flight of the Earls following the Elizabethan Wars).
In traditional Gaelic society every
Since 1922, the
The South Asian Tamil harp yaal is the symbol of City of Jaffna, Sri Lanka, whose legendary root originates from a harp player.
The arms of the Finnish city of Kangasala features a red, eagle-headed harp.
In the context of
Many depictions of King David in Jewish art have him holding or playing a harp, such as a sculpture outside King David's tomb in Jerusalem."King David statue at King David's tomb". Jerusalem.com. photo gallery. Jerusalem.
The harp is also used extensively as a
Other organisations in Ireland use the harp in their corporate identity, but not always prominently; these include the
In sport, the harp is used in the emblems of the League of Ireland football team Finn Harps F.C., Donegal's senior soccer club. Outside of Ireland, it appears in the badge of the Scottish Premiership team Hibernian F.C. - a team originally founded by Irish emigrants.
Not all sporting uses of the harp are references to Ireland, however: the Iraqi football club
Types of harp
- Celtic harp, or Clàrsach, a modern replica of Medieval north European harps
- Claviharp, a 19th century instrument that combined a harp with a keyboard
- Epigonion, a 40 stringed instrument in ancient Greece thought to have been a harp
- Kantele, a traditional Finnish and Karelian zyther-like instrument
- Konghou, name shared by an ancient Chinese harp and a modern re-adaption
- Kora, a west-African folk-instrument, intermediate between a harp and a lute
- Lyre, kithara, zyther-like instruments used in Greek classical antiquity and later
- Pedal harp, the modern, chromatic concert harp
- Psaltery, a small, flat, lap instrument in the zither family
- Triple harp, a chromatic multi-course harp traditional in Wales
- ISBN 0-7390-0021-7.
- ^ "Welcome to Encyclopaedia Iranica".
- ^ "Lyres: The Royal Tombs of Ur". SumerianShakespeare.com.
- ^ Davis N (1986). Gardiner A (ed.). Ancient Egyptian Paintings (PDF). Vol. 3. University of Chicago Press.
- ^ "History of the Harp". internationalharpmuseum.org. International Harp Museum. Archived from the original on 23 June 2016. Retrieved 18 June 2016.
- ISBN 978-1-60606-013-1.
- ISBN 978-0-933273-81-8.
- ISBN 9788170172215.
- ^ Vipulananda (1941). "The harps of ancient Tamil-land and the twenty-two srutis of Indian musical theory". Calcutta Review. LXXXI (3).
- ISBN 90-04-09365-6.
- ^ Magazine, Smithsonian; Gershon, Livia. "Listen to the First Song Ever Recorded on This Ancient, Harp-Like Instrument". Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved 28 September 2021.
- ^ The Journal of the Numismatic Society of India. Numismatic Society of India. 2006. pp. 73–75.[full citation needed]
- ISBN 978-81-85179-78-0.
... yazh resembles this old vina ... however it is the Burmese harp which seems to have been handed down in almost unchanged form since ancient times
- ^ "Konghou". Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved 2 October 2018.
- ISBN 978-0-89304-737-5.
- ^ "Muziek voor barokharp". lib.ugent.be. Retrieved 27 August 2020.
- ^ OCLC 59376677.
- ^ JSTOR 2865415.
- ISBN 978-1-134-41946-3.
- ^ Folk Harp Journal. Vol. 99. 1999.
- ISBN 978-950-686-137-7.
- ISBN 978-0-87338-439-1.
- ^ Ortiz, Alfredo Rolando. "History of Latin American Harps". HarpSpectrum.org. Retrieved 12 December 2014.
- ISBN 978-0-313-08794-3.
- ^ "Juan Cayambe". Discogs.
- ISBN 978-0-87338-439-1.
- ^ a b c d Reese, Allison (2021). "Venezuelan Virtuoso". Harp Column. 30 (1): 18–23.
- ^ ISBN 9789802533756.
- ISBN 978-0-226-10162-0.
- ISBN 978-0-8108-6677-5.
- ^ ISBN 978-1-84714-472-0.
- JSTOR 2795578. 233.
- ISBN 978-1-60606-013-1.
- ISBN 978-0-89577-947-2.
- ^ de Vale, Sue Carole. "Harp". Oxford Music Online. Oxford Music Online / Grove Music Online. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 27 December 2020.
- ISBN 978-0-520-05062-4.
- ^ "Casper Reardon". Biography & History. AllMusic. Retrieved 19 December 2019.
- ^ "A Portrait of Andreas Vollenweider". SWI swissinfo.ch. 18 April 2008. Retrieved 30 January 2020.
- ^ "New Sounds: Andreas Vollenweider". Spin. 1 October 1985. Retrieved 30 January 2020.
- ^ Bouchaud, Dominig. "Is "Celtic" a myth? The lever harp in Brittany". Harp Blog.
- ^ Rimmer (1980) p. 67[full citation needed]
- ^ See Collinson (1983)[full citation needed]
- ISBN 978-1-85109-440-0.
- ^ Mikishka, Patricia O. (1989). Single, double, and triple harps, 1581–1782: Harps having two or three rows of parallel strings. Part II. Department of Music. Stanford University. p. 48.
- ^ Zeitschrift. Breitkopf und Härtel. 1903. p. 196.
- ^ "Harp". Oxford Dictionaries. Archived from the original on 13 September 2016. Retrieved 30 April 2014.
- ^ "Harpist". Oxford Dictionaries. Archived from the original on 18 October 2015. Retrieved 25 April 2020.
- ^ "Harper". Oxford Dictionaries. Archived from the original on 24 June 2016. Retrieved 25 April 2020.
- ISBN 978-81-206-1074-3.
- ^ "Genesis". New International Version / King James Version. BibleGateWay.com. 4:21.
- ^ van Vechten, Carl (1919). "On the relative difficulties of depicting heaven and hell in music". The Musical Quarterly. pp. 553ff.
- ISBN 978-0-87930-865-0.
- Gaisford, Thomas (1848). Etymologicum Magnum. ISBN 960-400-139-6.
- Bova, Lucia (2008). L'arpa moderna. La scrittura, la notazione, lo strumento e il repertorio dal '500 alla contemporaneità. SugarMusic. ISBN 978-88-900691-4-7.
- Ross, Alasdair (Winter 1998). "Harps of their owne sorte'? A reassessment of Pictish chordophone depictions". Cambrian Medieval Celtic Studies. Vol. 36.
- Shepherd, John; Horn, David; Laing, Dave; Oliver, Paul; Wicke, Peter (8 May 2003). Continuum Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World. Vol. Part 1 – Performance and Production. A&C Black. pp. 427–437. ISBN 978-1-84714-472-0.
- Inglefield, Ruth K.; Neill, Lou Anne (1985). Writing for the Pedal Harp: A Standardized Manual for Composers and Harpists. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-04832-4.
- Lawrence, Lucile; Salzedo, Carlos (1929). Method for the Harp: Fundamental exercises with illustrations and technical explanations. New York, G. Schirmer.
as an Introduction and Complement to Carlos Salzedos̀ Modern Study of the Harp by Lucile Lawrence and Carlos Salzedo
- Roslyn Rensch (June 2007) . Harps and Harpists. Indiana University Press. ISBN 978-0-253-34903-3.