History of Harps In Society
Harps actually come in a huge variety of different shapes and sizes. Many people (at least in popular culture) associate it with an instrument played by angels floating in the clouds. It’s also an instrument commonly used in symphony orchestras. It’s magical sound can coincide with the likes of other instruments including flutes, drums, jazz bass and a beautiful voice.
The shape is usually triangular and sound is produced from a harp when strings are gently plucked. The set of strings are parallel to the soundboard. Even though harps may come in a variety of unique sizes or shapes, they all consist of three core components. These include a sound board, the neck and of course; strings.
The harps we are familiar with today came around throughout the middle ages. One such popular figure in history whom was associated with making the harp a mainstream instrument was Marie Antoinette. It was in this particular time period that she insisted that harps be decorated throughout homes of the french nobility. Various types of harps have been made, used and found all over the world. Countries have included Africa, Europe, North America, South America and Asia.
What Harps Are Made From
Most traditional harps today are made from a mixture of different materials. They are still mainly composed of just a wooden frame and soundbox though. Alternative methods during modern times have been used such as fiberglass, cardboard and even plastic!
The most common types of woods used to construct harps have included walnut, cherry, ash, maple, mahogany, purple heart and and exotic wood, bubinga.
Spruce is the most mainstream form of wood used to construct soundboards for harps. Lower quality and more affordable harps may use cheaper materials such as plywood or even birch laminate. Although these are available, spruce has always been known to be the most reliable in relation to quality and sound.
Depending on what part of the world the hard is being manufactured, strings could be made of either nylon, synthetic gut or wire. In past history, some harps were even strung together using the hair of horses. Our ancestors have surely found a use out of everything, haven’t they?
How Your Harp Should Be Cared for Over Time
The quality of your harp’s strings will most certainly affect the sound protruding from your instrument. So over time, depending on your usage, you’ll want to keep track of their age so you can think about replacement options.
The positive thing here is that harp strings do not have a pre-determined lifetime. It all depends on your usage and care. It has been recommended that you keep them out of direct sunlight especially if the strings are made of nylon. You should replace your harp strings when:
The string is aged and the sound is beginning to suffer
A string begins to unravel
If you notice a major loss in tone
Harps In Modern Music
Although, is not on the same level as traditional instruments like violins, guitars, flutes, or drums, they are beginning to see a resurgence around contemporary pop artists. Musicians including Gsldfrapp, Joanna Newsom, Florence & The Machine, Ricky Rasura and The Polyphonic Spree, Ruth Wall, and Tom Monger have used the harp in recent recordings. This is really quite impressive when you realize that harps have been around for thousands of years.
Types of Harps
There is a huge selection of harps available in all shapes and sizes. We also go on to cover many harps that have existed throughout history. These include:
- Ancient Egyptian Harps
- Medieval Harps
- Modern Lever
- Celtic/Folk Harps
- Modern Gothic Harps
- Modern Wire Harps
- Double, Triple & Cross-Strung Harps
- Paraguayan & Latin-American Harps
- Modern Pedal Harp
- Aeolian/Wind Harp
- Electric Harp
- Earth Harp
- Blue’s Harp
- Bell Harp
So while there have been other instruments that have predated the harp and eventually evolved into it, the harp has stuck around for multiple millennia.
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