Harp Wiki

Wikipedia Commons. Harps from 1911 Webster’s Dictionary. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Harp.png

Harps can be classified in different ways based on their size, use, and historical factors.  This discussion on harps is organized based on their typical use and construction.

Pedal Harps[]

Large, often elegant, harps seen in professional symphonies and orchestras. This type of harp uses pedals to enable the playing of sharps and flats. It is strung with steel, gut, and/or nylon strings.

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Lever Harps[]

Considerably smaller and more portable than pedal harps, and come in a variety of shapes and sizes from lap to floor models. Common features are the lack of pedals, and, at base level, the inability to play sharps and flats without re-tuning the instrument. Levers can be installed to manipulate the tension of the strings for production of sharps and flats.  It is strung with steel, gut, and/or goat intestine strings.

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Wire Harps[]

Also known as Clarsachs, are a type of folk harp strung entirely with metal strings. The sound produced is distinctly different from pedal and lever/folk harps. Often wire-strung harps are reproductions of historical harps and, depending on the style of construction, can be a floor or lap harp. Wire-strung harps can have blades (as opposed to levers) installed to play sharps and flats.

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Cross-Strung Harps[]

These harps feature two courses of strings, allowing for playing sharps or flats without levers or pedals.  The strings cross over each other, but do not touch.

Double Harp[]

The Double Strung Harp is a harp with two parallel rows of strings that are tuned diatonic - the same pitch. The vibrations "bounce off" each set of strings for rich harmonics, and you can do tons of special effects and unusual tune arrangements with amazingly little effort. Some are made with levers on both sides. Can be floor or lap harp size.

Triple Harp[]

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Futher Reading[]


Note about this article. Some of this content has been copy-pasted from Peggy Coates' website dorveille.com The website has disappeared, but the content remains on the internet archives. Attempts have been made to get in touch with the original author, but have been unfruitful. Should Peggy come across this content, please get in touch with @harpwiki!