Aeolian harp (Fr. harpe d’Eole, harpe éolienne; Ger. Äolsharfe, Windharfe; It. arpa eolia, arpa d’Eolo)
- Stephen Bonner
(Fr. harpe d’Eole, harpe éolienne; Ger. Äolsharfe, Windharfe; It. arpa eolia, arpa d’Eolo)
A string instrument (chordophone) sounded by natural wind, interesting as much for its symbolic significance as for its musical importance.
Normally four to 12 (but sometimes 24 or 48) strings ‘of catgut or brass wire, equal in length, unequal in thickness’ (Magasin pittoresque, 1845) are stretched over one or two hardwood bridges of triangular cross-section, mounted on a thin pine, maple or mahogany box of variable shape – measuring 75–200 cm (normally 85–110 cm) long, 11–35 cm (normally 12–26 cm) wide and 5–17 cm (normally 5–9 cm) deep. The ends of this soundbox may be of beech, for insertion of iron hitch-pins or wooden tuning-pegs. Most instruments have some device such as a slit draught for concentrating the wind on the strings.
Six variants of this structure exist: (1) A rectangular soundbox with a single horizontal row of strings, the most popular model in England, and, until 1803, in Germany; also the simplest type....