Harp-Store

The History of the Harp

Few instruments capture the imagination like the harp. Having been played for more then 5500 years, ancient harps have shown up in excavations, wall paintings, and in recorded music. While not as popular now as it once was, there is still a popular following for the harp ranging from cultural specific sounds to a wider body of classical compositions. Lets take a moment to review the history of the harp. In addition, we will look at some of the different kinds of harps currently used today.

 The Harp

Some of the oldest recorded harps date back to the near east, located now in present day Iran and Egypt. Originally arched in their shape, these harps would slowly become more vertical sound boxes used to create a richer tone. Records of harps can also be found in south Asia and east Asia as well.

Harps are mostly made of wood, with an essentially triangular shape. Each of the strings of the harp are responsible for making the music and are held in place on top with a tuning peg on the bottom. As the strings are plucked, the body resonates creating the sounds we hear. With more recent harp designs, foot pedals allow for a single string to make multiple pitches.

The History of the Harp

Few instruments capture the imagination like the harp. Having been played for more then 5500 years, ancient harps have shown up in excavations, wall paintings, and in recorded music. While not as popular now as it once was, there is still a popular following for the harp ranging from cultural specific sounds to a wider body of classical compositions. Lets take a moment to review the history of the harp. In addition, we will look at some of the different kinds of harps currently used today.

 The Harp

Some of the oldest recorded harps date back to the near east, located now in present day Iran and Egypt. Originally arched in their shape, these harps would slowly become more vertical sound boxes used to create a richer tone. Records of harps can also be found in south Asia and east Asia as well.

Harps are mostly made of wood, with an essentially triangular shape. Each of the strings of the harp are responsible for making the music and are held in place on top with a tuning peg on the bottom. As the strings are plucked, the body resonates creating the sounds we hear. With more recent harp designs, foot pedals allow for a single string to make multiple pitches.

Different Kinds of Harps

Lets break the different kinds of harps into two broad categories.

 The Non-Pedal Harp, the Folk Harp, and the Celtic Harp

Though each of the above harps are uniquely different, they share a number of similarities that make it easy to group them together. First, they all have between 20 and 40 strings with an average of 34 strings being the most common. They are tuned to a basic key prior to playing. In addition, they have a small lever that allows for the key of the instrument to change, providing for a much more varied sound in the music played. Generally, these harps are smaller in size.

 The Pedal Harp and Concert Harp

These harps are usually bigger then those found in the first category. With seven different pedals, every note can be played in any key, allowing for incredible variation in both sounds and musical complexity. Consisting of between 41 and 47 strings, these harps are also generally heavier and larger as well. Most frequently seen in classical orchestras, the harp clearly stands out both in size and design.