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Worldwide distribution of performing positions on harps, regardless of historical period (there are minor variations in the angle of the harp in relation to the human body; the depicted harp is intended to be generic and does not represent any particular type; information on some performing positions is derived from iconographic sources): a – Uganda, Democratic Republic of the Congo (East), Gambia, Senegal, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Mali, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Siberia; formerly Mesopotamia b – Mauritania; formerly Egypt, Minoan, Mesopotamia c – Gabon, Cameroon, Chad, Congo, Central African Republic; all Western harps, and Western-influenced harps in the Philippines, Mexico, Peru, Paraguay, Ecuador, Venezuela, Colombia, Argentina, Chile; formerly Egypt d – Chad (south-west); Chile and Peru (only in processions; the harp is turned upside-down and the neck of the harp rested on the shoulder of the harpist, who can then play while walking); formerly Mesopotamia, Middle and Far East, Central Asia, west Asiatic areas; Italo-Greek areas e – Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo (only Zande and Zande-influenced peoples), Gambia (Jole), Guinea (Wasulu), Georgia (Caucasus), Afghanistan, India, Myanmar; formerly Middle East and East Asia, Central Asia, Indonesia f – Chad (south-west), Cameroon (north) [the harp rests entirely on the ground and the performer squats with the resonator close to the body]

Worldwide distribution of performing positions on harps, regardless of historical period (there are minor variations in the angle of the harp in relation to the human body; the depicted harp is intended to be generic and does not represent any particular type; information on some performing positions is derived from iconographic sources): a – Uganda, Democratic Republic of the Congo (East), Gambia, Senegal, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Mali, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Siberia; formerly Mesopotamia b – Mauritania; formerly Egypt, Minoan, Mesopotamia c – Gabon, Cameroon, Chad, Congo, Central African Republic; all Western harps, and Western-influenced harps in the Philippines, Mexico, Peru, Paraguay, Ecuador, Venezuela, Colombia, Argentina, Chile; formerly Egypt d – Chad (south-west); Chile and Peru (only in processions; the harp is turned upside-down and the neck of the harp rested on the shoulder of the harpist, who can then play while walking); formerly Mesopotamia, Middle and Far East, Central Asia, west Asiatic areas; Italo-Greek areas e – Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo (only Zande and Zande-influenced peoples), Gambia (Jole), Guinea (Wasulu), Georgia (Caucasus), Afghanistan, India, Myanmar; formerly Middle East and East Asia, Central Asia, Indonesia f – Chad (south-west), Cameroon (north) [the harp rests entirely on the ground and the performer squats with the resonator close to the body]

Horizontal arched (a, c, d, f, g, i, j) and angular harps (b, e, h): (a) Iran, 2300–2100 BCE, seal impression (see also Iran, fig.3c); (b) Shar-i Sokhta, Iran, ?2400 BCE, terracotta plaque; (c) Bismaya, Mesopotamia, 2100 BCE, relief on stone vase; (d) Tell Asmar, Mesopotamia, 1950–1530 BCE, terracotta plaque; (e) Tell Asmar, Mesopotamia, 1950–1530 BCE, terracotta plaque; (f) Thebes, Egypt, 1504–1452 BCE, extant shoulder harp; (g) Thebes, Egypt, 1380–1320 BCE, extant harp; (h) Iran, 400–800 BCE, silver plate; (i) Pendzhikent, Tajikistan, 700–20 BCE, wall painting; (j) Nāgārjunakonda (India), 100–300 BCE, stone sculpture

Horizontal arched (a, c, d, f, g, i, j) and angular harps (b, e, h): (a) Iran, 2300–2100 BCE, seal impression (see also Iran, fig.3c); (b) Shar-i Sokhta, Iran, ?2400 BCE, terracotta plaque; (c) Bismaya, Mesopotamia, 2100 BCE, relief on stone vase; (d) Tell Asmar, Mesopotamia, 1950–1530 BCE, terracotta plaque; (e) Tell Asmar, Mesopotamia, 1950–1530 BCE, terracotta plaque; (f) Thebes, Egypt, 1504–1452 BCE, extant shoulder harp; (g) Thebes, Egypt, 1380–1320 BCE, extant harp; (h) Iran, 400–800 BCE, silver plate; (i) Pendzhikent, Tajikistan, 700–20 BCE, wall painting; (j) Nāgārjunakonda (India), 100–300 BCE, stone sculpture

Vertical angular harp: clay plaque from Tell Asmar, 1900–1500 BCE (Musée du Louvre, Paris)

Vertical angular harp: clay plaque from Tell Asmar, 1900–1500 BCE (Musée du Louvre, Paris)

Photo Maurice Chuzeville, Malakoff, France

Horizontal arched harp (sammû): terracotta relief from Tell Asmar, 1900–1500 BCE (Musée du Louvre, Paris)

Horizontal arched harp (sammû): terracotta relief from Tell Asmar, 1900–1500 BCE (Musée du Louvre, Paris)

Photo Maurice Chuzeville, Malakoff, France

Diagram showing how the relative population of different types of harp developed in Egypt over time; all shaded areas refer to variant shapes of arched harp

Diagram showing how the relative population of different types of harp developed in Egypt over time; all shaded areas refer to variant shapes of arched harp

Spindle harp painted on an Attic Red-figure vase (5th century bce); the white line is added to show the exponential curve

Spindle harp painted on an Attic Red-figure vase (5th century bce); the white line is added to show the exponential curve

Schematic profiles of European harps from the 11th century to the 16th

Schematic profiles of European harps from the 11th century to the 16th

after J. Rimmer

(a) Renaissance harp with brays, and lute: engraving by Israhel van Meckenem (ii), second half of the 15th century; (b) Renaissance harp with brays, German, maker unknown, 16th century (Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg)

(a) Renaissance harp with brays, and lute: engraving by Israhel van Meckenem (ii), second half of the 15th century; (b) Renaissance harp with brays, German, maker unknown, 16th century (Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg)

Oldest extant Irish harp, known as the ‘Brian Boru’ harp, 14th century (Trinity College, Dublin)

Oldest extant Irish harp, known as the ‘Brian Boru’ harp, 14th century (Trinity College, Dublin)

The Board of Trinity College, Dublin

Woodcut from Praetorius’s ‘Syntagma musicum’ (2/1619): (1) common harp; (2) Irish harp with brass strings; (3) dulcimer

Woodcut from Praetorius’s ‘Syntagma musicum’ (2/1619): (1) common harp; (2) Irish harp with brass strings; (3) dulcimer

Welsh triple harp by Bassett Jones, c1850, played by Nansi Richards-Jones, 1970

Welsh triple harp by Bassett Jones, c1850, played by Nansi Richards-Jones, 1970

Joan Rimmer / Photo Frank Harrison, Canterbury

Single-rank harp with ribbed resonator, guitar and violin, Zinacantán, Chiapas, Mexico, 1966

Single-rank harp with ribbed resonator, guitar and violin, Zinacantán, Chiapas, Mexico, 1966

Joan Rimmer / Photo Frank Harrison, Canterbury

Single-action pedal harp with structural and mechanical details: engraving by Benard after Prevost from Diderot and D’Alembert’s ‘Encyclopédie’, v (Paris, 1767), pl.xix

Single-action pedal harp with structural and mechanical details: engraving by Benard after Prevost from Diderot and D’Alembert’s ‘Encyclopédie’, v (Paris, 1767), pl.xix

Positions of forks and pedals, and corresponding keys obtainable on the new Erard double-action harp: engraving by W. Lowry after Pierre Erard from his ‘The Harp in its Present Improved State’ (London, 1821)

Positions of forks and pedals, and corresponding keys obtainable on the new Erard double-action harp: engraving by W. Lowry after Pierre Erard from his ‘The Harp in its Present Improved State’ (London, 1821)

Modern double-action harp, showing pedal-rod/tuning disc mechanism, pedal box, and the positions of forks and pedals for the sharps, flats and naturals

Modern double-action harp, showing pedal-rod/tuning disc mechanism, pedal box, and the positions of forks and pedals for the sharps, flats and naturals

Section through the neck of a Camac ‘New Generation’ harp showing the mechanism of the forked disc that rotates to create sharps, flats and naturals

Section through the neck of a Camac ‘New Generation’ harp showing the mechanism of the forked disc that rotates to create sharps, flats and naturals

after diagram by/courtesy Camac harps France

Ensemble of harp, violin, four-keyed clarinet and triangle: ‘I Viggianesi’, engraving by Francesco Pisante after Filippo Palizzi, mid-19th century

Ensemble of harp, violin, four-keyed clarinet and triangle: ‘I Viggianesi’, engraving by Francesco Pisante after Filippo Palizzi, mid-19th century

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Revista de musicología
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