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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

For other uses, see Harp (disambiguation).

The harp is a stringed instrument which has the plane of its strings positioned perpendicular to the soundboard. All harps have a neck, resonator and strings. Some, known as frame harps, also have a forepillar; those lacking the forepillar are referred to as open harps. Harp strings can be made of nylon (sometimes wound around copper), gut (more commonly used than nylon), or wire. A person who plays the harp is called a harpist or a harper, the latter term being older.

Various types of harps are found in Africa, Europe, North and South America, and a few parts of Asia. In antiquity harps and the closely related lyres were very prominent in nearly all musical cultures, but they lost popularity in the early 19th century with Western music composers, being thought of primarily as a woman's instrument after Marie Antoinette popularised it as a lady's pastime. There was no harp-exclusive museum until the North Italian harp building firm of Victor Salvi started one in 2005.

The aeolian harp (wind harp) and autoharp are technically not harps because their strings are not perpendicular to the soundboard.

Origins of the harp

An ancient Egyptian harp on display in a UK museum.
An ancient Egyptian harp on display in a UK museum.

The harp's origins may lie in the sound of a plucked hunter's bow string. The oldest documented references to the harp are from 4000 BC in Egypt (see Music of Egypt) and 3000 BC in Mesopotamia. While the harp is mentioned in most translations of the Bible, King David being the most prominent musician, the Biblical "harp" was actually a kinnor, a type of lyre with 10 strings. Harps also appear in ancient epics, and in Egyptian wall paintings. This kind of harp, now known as the folk harp, continued to evolve in many different cultures all over the world. It may have developed independently in some places.

The lever harp came about in the second half of the 17th century to enable key changes while playing. The player manually turned a hook or lever against an individual string to raise the string's pitch by a semitone. In the 1700s, a link mechanism was developed connecting these hooks with pedals, leading to the invention of the single-action pedal harp. Later, a second row of hooks was installed along the neck to allow for the double-action pedal harp, capable of raising the pitch of a string by either one or two semitones. With this final enhancement, the modern concert harp was born.

Types of harps, harp-playing and harp-building

Playing style of the European-derived harp

Sassanid mosaic excavated at Bishapur depicting player and a harp. Artifact is kept at The Louvre.
Sassanid mosaic excavated at Bishapur depicting player and a harp. Artifact is kept at The Louvre.
Women playing harp while the Sassanid king is hunting, Taq-e Bostan, Iran.
Women playing harp while the Sassanid king is hunting, Taq-e Bostan, Iran.

Most European-derived harps have a single row of strings with strings for each note of the C Major scale (over several octaves). Harpists can tell which strings they are playing because all F strings are black or blue and all C strings are red or orange. The instrument rests between the knees of the harpist and along their right shoulder. The Welsh triple harp and early Irish and Scottish harps, however, are traditionally placed on the left shoulder (in order to have it over the heart). The first four fingers of each hand are used to pluck the strings; the pinky fingers are too short and cannot reach the correct position without distorting the position of the other fingers, although on some folk harps with light tension, closely spaced strings, they may occasionally be used. Also, the pinky is not strong enough to pluck a string. Plucking with varying degrees of force creates dynamics. Depending on finger position, different tones can be produced: a fleshy pluck (near the middle of the first finger joint) will make a warm tone, while a pluck near the end of the finger will make a loud, bright sound.

The pedal or concert harp

Main Article: See Pedal harp

The pedal harp, or concert harp, is large and technically modern, designed for classical music and played solo, as part of chamber ensembles, and in symphony orchestras. It typically has six and a half octaves (46 or 47 strings), weighs about 80lb (36 kg), is approximately 6 ft (1.8 m) high, has a depth of 4 ft (1.2 m), and is 21.5 in (55 cm) wide at the bass end of the soundboard. The notes range from three octaves below middle C (or the D above) to three and a half octaves above, usually ending on G.

The tension of the strings on the sound board is roughly equal to a ton (10 kilonewtons). The lowest strings are made of copper or steel-wound nylon, the middle strings of gut, and the highest of nylon. This is not to say that strings in the higher register are not produced in gut or that middle strings are not produced in nylon. The middle gut string and high nylon string setting is mainly because gut strings usually carry a higher price than nylon strings; they also fray and break more frequently than nylon strings. However, gut strings produce fuller sounds than do nylon strings do. The strings in the higher register are thinner and break more frequently. In the case of a broken string, replacing it with the same type (gut or nylon) is recommended, for a change in the type can be noticeable. For example, in a sequence of strings such as gut-gut-nylon-gut-gut, the nylon string's sound may stand out from the gut strings' sounds.

The pedal harp uses the mechanical action of pedals to change the pitches of the strings. There are seven pedals, one for each note, and each pedal is attached to a rod or cable within the column of the harp, which then connects with a mechanism within the neck. When a pedal is moved with the foot, small discs at the top of the harp rotate. The discs are studded with two pegs that pinch the string as they turn, shortening the vibrating length of the string. The pedal has three positions. In the top position no pegs are in contact with the string and all notes are flat. In the middle position the top wheel pinches the string, resulting in a natural. In the bottom position another wheel is turned, shortening the string again to create a sharp. This mechanism is called the double-action pedal system, invented by Sébastien Erard in 1810. Earlier pedal harps had a single-action mechanism that allowed strings to play sharpened notes.

Lyon and Healy, Camac Harps, and other manufacturers also make electric pedal harps. The electric harp is a concert harp, with microphone pickups at the base of each string and an amplifier. The electric harp is a little heavier than an acoustic harp, but looks the same.

Folk harps, lever harps or Celtic harps

New Salem Village re-enactors playing Celtic harps
New Salem Village re-enactors playing Celtic harps

The folk harp or celtic harp is small to medium-sized and usually designed for traditional music; it can be played solo or with small groups. It is prominent in Irish, Scottish and other Celtic cultures within traditional or folk music and as a social and political symbol. Often the folk harp is played by beginners who wish to move on to the pedal harp at a later stage, or by musicians who simply prefer the smaller size or different sounds.

The folk or lever harp ranges in size from two octaves to six octaves, and uses levers or blades to change pitch. The most common size has 34 strings: Two octaves below middle C and two and a half above (ending on B), although folk or lever harps can usually be found with anywhere from 19 to 40 strings. The strings are generally made of nylon, gut, carbon fiber or flourocarbon, or wrapped metal, and are plucked with the fingers using a similar technique to the pedal harp.

Folk harps with levers installed have a lever close to the top of each string; when it is engaged, it shortens the string so its pitch is raised a semitone, resulting in a sharped note if the string was a natural, or a natural note if the string was a flat. Lever harps are often tuned to the key of E-flat. Using this scheme, the major keys of E-flat, B-flat, F, C, G, D, A, and E can be reached by changing lever positions, rather than re-tuning any strings. Many smaller folk harps are tuned in C or F, and may have no levers, or levers on the F and C strings only, allowing a narrower range of keys. Blades and hooks perform almost the same function as levers, but use a different mechanism. The most common type of lever is either the Camac or Truitt lever although Loveland levers are still used by some makers. Amplified (electro-acoustic) and solid body electric lever harps are produced by some harpmakers.

Wire-strung harps (clàrsach or cláirseach)

The harper on the Monifeith Pictish stone, Scotland, 700 X 900 AD
The harper on the Monifeith Pictish stone, Scotland, 700 X 900 AD
The harper on the Dupplin Cross, Scotland, circa 800 AD
The harper on the Dupplin Cross, Scotland, circa 800 AD

The Gaelic wire-strung harp is called a clàrsach in Scotland or a cláirseach in Ireland. The origins go back at least the first millennium. There are several stone carvings of harps from the 10th century, many of which have simple triangular shapes, generally with straight pillars, straight string arms or necks, and soundboxes. There is stone carving evidence that supports the theory that the harp was present in Gaelic/Pictish Scotland well before the 9th century.[1]

The earliest descriptions of a European triangular framed harp i.e. harps with a fore pillar are found on 8th century Pictish stones.[2][3][4] Pictish harps were strung from horsehair. The instruments apparently spread south to the Anglo Saxons who commonly used gut strings and then west to the Gaels of the Highlands and to Ireland.[5] Historically the carvings were made in the period after the establishment of the Gaelic kingdom of Dál Riata. Despite the lack of direct evidence, some argue for a Gaelic influence. However, there are only thirteen depictions of any triangular chordophone from pre-11th century Europe, and all thirteen of them come from Scotland.[6] Moreover, the earliest Irish word for a harp is in fact Cruit, a word which strongly suggests a Pictish provenance for the instrument.[7] But some scholars are of the opinion that much Pictish stone carving art is copied from manuscripts.[8] Irish poets portrayed their Irish Pictish counterparts as very much like themselves.[9]

Maedoc book-cover, Ireland, circa 1000 AD
Maedoc book-cover, Ireland, circa 1000 AD
This Scottish clàrsach, now in the Museum of Scotland, is a one of only three surviving medieval Gaelic harps. Two of them survive from Perthshire, Scotland, and there is good reason to believe that all three were made in Argyll.
This Scottish clàrsach, now in the Museum of Scotland, is a one of only three surviving medieval Gaelic harps. Two of them survive from Perthshire, Scotland, and there is good reason to believe that all three were made in Argyll.[10]

The harp was perhaps the most popular musical instrument used in both medieval Scotland and Ireland.

—Gerald of Wales[11]

The harp played by the Gaels of Scotland and Ireland between the 11th and 19th centuries was certainly wire-strung. The Irish Maedoc Book Shrine dates from the 11th century, and clearly shows a harper with a triangular framed harp including a "T-Section" in the pillar (or Lamhchrann in Irish) indicating the bracing that would have been required to withstand the tension of a wire-strung harp.

By the Later Middle Ages, the Gaelic language word clàrsach or cláirseach described a wire-strung harp with a massive carved soundbox, a reinforced curved pillar and a substantial neck, flanked with thick brass cheek bands. The wire-strung harp was played with the fingernails, and it produced a brilliant ringing sound. This is the style of harp on Irish coins and the Guinness label. Especially popular in 16th and 17th century English courts, it was played all over Europe and was usually called the Irish Harp.

By the 17th century, harps of any sort had fallen out of use in Scotland and Ireland due to changing social, political and economic conditions. At the same time, new chromatic harps were being created on the Continent for a bourgeois audience; harps with multiple rows of strings and harps with sharping mechanisms for playing the fashionable music of the time. In the mid-19th century, a revival of all things Celtic brought attention back to Gaelic culture, sparking interest in native language and music.

The Irish and Highland Harps by Robert Bruce Armstrong is an excellent book describing these ancient harps. There is historical evidence that the types of wire used in these harps are iron, brass, silver, and gold. Three pre-16th century examples survive today; the Trinity College harp in Ireland, and the Queen Mary and Lamont harps, both in Scotland.

One of the largest and most complete collections of 17th century harp music is the work of Turlough O'Carolan, a blind, itinerant Irish harper and composer. At least 220 of his compositions survive to this day.

Edward Bunting was commissioned to notate the music played by the harpers at the 1792 Belfast Harp Festival. He published his first volume in 1796. He continued to collect the music of the cláirseach and published his second and third volumes in 1809 and 1840 respectively. A reprint of the 1840 edition is now available from Dover Publications.

Dennis Hempson (O'Hampsey) was the last of the harpers who played in the old style using the fingernails to pluck while the finger pads are used to damp. He also was one of the last to use the left hand in the treble. He was in his 90s at the 1792 festival and died in the beginning of the 19th century. He took the unbroken tradition of wire-strung harping with him to his grave.

Since the 1970s, the tradition has been revived. Alan Stivell's "Renaissance de la harpe celtique" (perhaps the best-seller harp album in the world), using mainly the bronze strung harp, and his tours, has brought the instrument into the ears and the love of many people . Ann Heymann has revived the ancient tradition and technic by playing the instrument as well as studying Bunting's original manuscripts in the library of Queens University, Belfast. Other notable players include Patrick Ball, Cynthia Cathcart, Alison Kinnaird, Bill Taylor, Siobhán Armstrong and others.

As performers have become interested in the instrument, harp makers ("luthiers") such as Jay Witcher, David Kortier, Ardival Harps, and others have begun building wire-strung harps. The traditional wire materials are used, however iron has been replaced by steel and the modern phosphor bronze has been added to the list. The phosphor bronze and brass are most commonly used. Steel tends to be very abrasive to the nails. Silver and gold are used to get high density materials into the bass courses of high quality clàrsachs to greatly improve their tone quality. In the period, no sharping devices were used. Harpers had to re-tune strings to change keys. This practice is reflected by most of the modern luthiers, yet some allow provisions for either levers or blades.

Multi-course harps

A multi-course harp is a harp with more than one row of strings. A harp with only one row of strings is called a single-course harp.

Double harp
Double harp

A double harp consists of two rows of diatonic strings one on either side of the neck. These strings may run parallel to each other or may converge so the bottom ends of the strings are very close together. Either way, the strings that are next to each other are tuned to the same note. Double harps often have levers either on every string or on the most commonly sharped strings, for example C and F. Having two sets of strings allows the harpist's left and right hands to occupy the same range of notes without having both hands attempt to play the same string at the same time. It also allows for special effects such as repeating a note very quickly without stopping the sound from the previous note.

A triple harp features three rows of parallel strings, two outer rows of diatonic strings, and a center row of chromatic strings. To play a sharp, the harpist reaches in between the strings in either outer row and plucks the center row string. Like the double harp, the two outer rows of strings are tuned the same, but the triple harp has no levers. This harp originated in Italy in the 16th century as a low headed instrument, and towards the end of 1600s it arrived in Wales where it developed a high head and larger size. It established itself as part of Welsh tradition and became known as the Welsh harp (telyn deires, "three-row harp"). The traditional design has all of the strings strung from the left side of the neck, but modern neck designs have the two outer rows of strings strung from opposite sides of the neck to greatly reduce the tendency for the neck to roll over to the left.

Cross-strung harp
Cross-strung harp

The cross-strung harp consists of one row of diatonically tuned strings and another row of chromatic notes. These strings cross approximately in the middle of the string without touching. Traditionally the diatonic row runs from the right (as seen by someone sitting at the harp) side of the neck to the left side of the sound board. The chromatic row runs from the left of the neck to the right of the sound board. The diatonic row has the normal string coloration for a harp, but the chromatic row may be black. The chromatic row is not a full set of strings. It is missing the strings between the Es and Fs in the diatonic row and between the Bs and Cs in the diatonic row. In this respect it is much like a piano. The diatonic row corresponds to the white keys and the chromatic row to the black keys. Playing each string in succession results in a complete chromatic scale.

Harp technique

Harp playing uses all of the fingers except for the pinky, which is generally too short and weak to effectively pluck a string. In order to make notation of fingerings easier, each finger is given a number, "1" for the thumb, "2" for the index finger, "3" for the middle finger, and "4" for the ring finger. Most types of harp only require use of the hands. The exception is the pedal (concert) harp, where the harpist pushes the pedals with his or her feet.

There are two main methods of classical harp technique in the United States: the French method (associated in the United States with the French-American harpist Marcel Grandjany) and the Salzedo method, developed by Carlos Salzedo. Neither method has a definite majority among harpists, but the issue of which is better is sometimes a source of friction and debate. The distinguishing features of the Salzedo method are the encouragement of expressive gestures, elbows remain parallel to the ground, wrists are comparatively still, and neither arm ever touches the soundboard. The Salzedo method also places great emphasis on specific fingerings. The French method advocates lowered elbows, fluid wrists, and the right arm resting lightly on the soundboard. In both methods, the shoulders, neck, and back are relaxed. Some harpists combine the two methods into the technique that works best for them.

On the wire strung clarsach, a thumb under technique is also used.

As in all baroque instrumental techniques, the underlying principle is that of strong and weak articulation. The player only uses three fingers of each hand, and the thumb moves under the other fingers, rather than being held very high as in modern harp technique. The thumb and third fingers are "strong" fingers and the second finger is a "weak" finger. Scales are fingered with alternating strong and weak fingers - that is, a scale fingering could be either 1 2 1 2 1 2 or 3 2 3 2 3 2. In contrast, classical harp technique uses a fingering of 4 3 2 1 4 3 2 1 going up and 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 going down.

Another approach to "thumb under" technique as described above is to place the thumb so that it passes over the second finger, rather than under it. There is equal evidence for both thumb over and thumb under playing techniques on historical harps.

In this second approach it is important to note that the fingers are placed on the strings an equal distance up the string from the soundboard. This may be as little as 5-8 inches on very lightly strung harps. If you begin by making a circle with your thumb and second finger, placing both the thumb and the second finger on the same string, open your thumb and place your thumb on the string above, also placing the third (and fourth – if you choose to use it) on the neighbouring strings below the second finger. The fingertips placed on the strings should loosely form a straight line parallel to the soundboard of the harp.

As you play each finger, the aim is to roll the string over the end of your finger as you release it rather than pulling the string into your hand. This should require very little finger action to produce a warm and well rounded sound. Each finger produces a subtly different tone articulation. When playing scales down the harp, after playing the thumb it passes just over the second finger onto the string below, with the second finger falling onto the string below the thumb after releasing its note. Otherwise, as with thumb under technique, all scales are played alternating strong and weak fingerings.

Other harps around the world

In South America, there are Mexican, Andean, Venezuelan, and Paraguayan harps. They are derived from the Baroque harps that were brought from Spain during the colonial period: wide on the bottom and narrow at the top, with perfect balance when being played but unable to stand independently for lack of a base. The Paraguayan harp is the most popular, and is Paraguay's national instrument. It has about 36 strings with narrower spacing and lighter tension than other harps, and so has a slightly (four to five notes) lower pitch. It does not necessarily have the same string coloration as the other harps. For example, some Paraguayan harps may have red B's and blue E's instead of red C's and blue F's. This harp is also played mostly with the fingernails.

All of Africa's harps are open harps because they lack the forepillar. With the exception of Mauritania's ardin, which is a true harp, most West African harps, such as the kora, are technically classified as harp-lutes because of their two rows of strings which are strung parallel to each other but perpendicular to the soundboard.

In Asia, there are very few harps today, though the instrument was popular in ancient times; in that continent, zithers such as China's guqin and Japan's koto predominate. However, a few harps exist, the most notable being Burma's saung-gauk, which is considered the national instrument in that country. The Chinese konghou, which died out, is being revived in a modernized form. Turkey had a harp called the çeng that has also fallen out of use.

There are no harps indigenous to Oceania or the Americas.

The harp in music

The harp is used sparingly in most classical music, usually for special effects such as the glissando, arpeggios, and bisbigliando. Italian and German opera uses harp for romantic arias and dances, an example of which is Musetta's Waltz from La bohème. French composers such as Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel composed harp concertos and chamber music widely played today. In the 19th century, the French composer and harpist Nicolas-Charles Bochsa composed hundreds of pieces of all kinds (opera transcriptions, chamber music, concertos, operas, harp methods). Henriette Renié and Marcel Grandjany have composed many lesser-known solo pieces and chamber music. Modern composers utilize the harp frequently because the pedals on a concert harp allow many sorts of non-diatonic scales and strange accidentals to be played (although some modern pieces call for impractical pedal manipulations).

See List of compositions for harp for the names of some notable pieces from the classical repertoire.

Alan Stivell is a well-known crossover and Celtic harpist. He first recorded an EP record, "Musique Gaélique," in 1959, then an LP in 1964 called "Telenn Geltiek " (available in CD). Following these, he has released 21 other albums including his harps, from 1970 until now (the last one is "Explore" - 2006- ). He recorded also some albums specially dedicated to the harp: the famous "Renaissance of the Celtic Harp" (1972), "Harpes du Nouvel Age" (1985), and "Beyond Words" (2002). The Celtic Harp is popular thanks to his work. But he is also responsible for the evolution of the instrument ( Electro-acoustic and Electric harps).

Harpists active in jazz, free improvisation and 'celtic dream' music, including:

  • Dorothy Ashby
  • Edmar Castañeda
  • Oona McOuat
  • Pearl Chertok
  • Alice Coltrane
  • Joanna Newsom
  • Park Stickney
  • Zeena Parkins
  • Deborah Henson-Conant
  • Eve McTelenn

Harpo Marx, the famous comedian, was a self-taught harpist. He learned only after the fact that he had taught himself to play the "wrong" way, by using his pinky. However, when his harp solos in his movies made him famous, many well-known harpists who had been playing "correctly" came to him to try to glean technical and musical pointers. There are two LPs by Harpo Marx, with arrangements by his eldest son, Juilliard graduate Bill Marx. Both LPs are available on one CD and are a testament to Harpo's unique technique and musicality.

In current pop music, the harp appears relatively rarely. Joanna Newsom and Dee Carstensen have separately established images as harp-playing singer-songwriters with signature harp and vocal sounds. Canadian singer-songwriter Sarah McLachlan plays the harp in her 2006 holiday album, Wintersong. A pedal harpist, Ricky Rasura, is a member of the "symphonic pop" band The Polyphonic Spree, and Björk sometimes features acoustic and electric harp in her work, often played by Zeena Parkins. Art in America was the first known rock band featuring a pedal harp to appear on a major record label, and released only one record, in 1983. The pedal harp was also present in the Michael Kamen and Metallica concert and album S&M as part of the San Francisco Symphony orchestra. Some Celtic-pop crossover bands and artists such as Clannad and Loreena McKennitt include folk harps, following Alan Stivell's work.

As a symbol


The Coat of arms of Ireland
The Coat of arms of Ireland
The Irish € 2.00 coin
The Irish € 2.00 coin

The harp has been used as a political symbol of Ireland for centuries. It was used to symbolize Ireland in the Royal Standard of King James VI/I of Scotland, England and Ireland in 1603 and had continued to feature on all English, British and United Kingdom Royal Standards ever since, though the style of harp used differed on some Royal Standards. It was also used on the Commonwealth Jack of Oliver Cromwell, issued in 1649 and on the Protectorate Jack issued in 1658 as well as on the Lord Protector's Standard issued on the succession of Richard Cromwell in 1658. The harp is also traditionally used on the flag of Leinster.

Independent Ireland continued to use the harp as its state symbol on the Great Seal of the Irish Free State, featuring it both on the coat of arms and on the Presidential Standard and Presidential Seal - as well as on various other official seals and documents. The harp also appears on Irish coinage from the Middle Ages to the current Irish euro coins.

See also: Coat of Arms of the Republic of Ireland and Coat of arms of Montserrat.

A South Asian version of harp known in Tamil as 'yaal', is the symbol of City of Jaffna, Sri Lanka, whose legendary root originates from a harp player.


The harp is also used extensively as a corporate logo - both private and government organisations. For instance; Ireland's most famous drink, Guinness, also uses a harp, but in reverse and also less detailed than the state arms.

Relatively new organizations also use the harp, but often modified to reflect a theme relevant to their organization, for instance; Irish airline Ryanair uses a modified harp, somewhat in the form of an angel taking flight, and the Irish State Examinations Commission uses it with an educational theme.

Other organizations in Ireland use the harp, but not always prominently; these include the National University of Ireland and the associated University College Dublin, and the Gaelic Athletic Association. In Northern Ireland the Police Service of Northern Ireland and Queen's University of Belfast use the harp as part of their identity.

See also

  • Psaltery
  • Kithara
  • Lyre

External links

Mollie. "Auntie, don't cats go to heaven?" Auntie. "No, my dear. Didn't you hear the Vicar say at the Children's Service that animals hadn't souls and therefore could not go to heaven?" Mollie. "Where do they get the strings for the harps, then?"  Cartoon in Punch magazine 4 August 1920
Mollie. "Auntie, don't cats go to heaven?"
Auntie. "No, my dear. Didn't you hear the Vicar say at the Children's Service that animals hadn't souls and therefore could not go to heaven?"
Mollie. "Where do they get the strings for the harps, then?"
Cartoon in Punch magazine 4 August 1920
  • Harp Spectrum - general information about the harp
  • - about the Gaelic harp of Ireland and the Scottish Highlands
  • - information about early Irish and Scottish harps
  • Asni: harp lore - descriptions of several types of historical European harps (with sound samples)
  • The Celtic Harp Page - information on Celtic and other types of harps
  • Celtic Harp Amplification Series - information on amplifying the harp
  • Video - short video showing the parts of the lever harp
  • Harpists Gallery - presentation of harpists world wide, harp bulletin, events, links


  1. ^ The Origins of the Clairsach or Irish Harp. Musical times, Vol. 53, No 828 (Feb 1912), pp 89-92.
  2. ^ Alison Latham (2002), The Oxford Companion to music, (Harpa) Oxford University Press p564.
  3. ^ The Anglo Saxon Harp, Spectrum, Vol. 71, No.2 (Apr., 1996), pp 290-320.
  4. ^ The Origins of the Clairsach or Irish Harp. Musical times, Vol. 53, No 828 (Feb 1912), pp 89-92.
  5. ^ J. Keay & Julia Keay. (2000): Collins Encyclopaedia of Scotland, Clarsach, p171. Harper Collins publishers.
  6. ^ Alasdair Ross, "Pictish Chordophone Depictions", in Cambrian Medieval Celtic Studies, 36, 1998, esp. p. 41; Joan Rimmer, The Irish Harp, (Cork, 1969) p. 17.
    Also: Alasdair Ross discusses that all the Scottish harp figures were copied from foreign drawings and not from life, in 'Harps of Their Owne Sorte'? A Reassessment of Pictish Chordophone Depictions "Cambrian Medieval Celtic Studies" 36, Winter 1998
  7. ^ J. Keay & Julia Keay. (2000): Collins Encyclopaedia of Scotland, Clarsach, p171. Harper Collins publishers.
  8. ^ Alasdair Ross discusses that all the Scottish harp figures were copied from foreign drawings and not from life, in 'Harps of Their Owne Sorte'? A Reassessment of Pictish Chordophone Depictions "Cambrian Medieval Celtic Studies" 36, Winter 1998
  9. ^ Forsyth, "Evidence of a lost Pictish Source", pp. 27–28.
  10. ^ John Bannerman, "The Clàrsach and the Clàrsair", in Scottish Studies, vol. 30 no. 3, 1991
  11. ^ Gerald of Wales, Topographia Hibernica, 94; tr. John O’ Meary, The History and Topography of Ireland, (London, 1982).


  • The Anglo Saxon Harp, Spectrum, Vol. 71, No.2 (Apr., 1996), pp 290-320.
  • The Origins of the Clairsach or Irish Harp. Musical times, Vol. 53, No 828 (Feb 1912), pp 89-92.
  • Courteau, Mona-Lynn. "Harp". In J. Shepherd, D. Horn, D. Laing, P. Oliver and P. Wicke (Eds.), The Continuum Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World, Vol. 2, 2003, pp. 427-437.
  • Faul, Michel. "Nicolas Bochsa : harpiste, compositeur, escroc"; first biography (in French) of one of the most celebrated harpists in the XIXth century :
  • Latham, Alison (2002), The Oxford Companion to music, (Harpa) Oxford University Press p564.
  • Woods, Sylvia. "Teach Yourself to Play Folk Harp"; A companion video is available. [1]

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