Meaning of Harp

The term harp can also be written with the initial H: harp. The notion derives from the French word harpe, although its most distant etymological origin is found in the Germanic languages.

A harp is a musical instrument that has strings located vertically and whose frame is shaped like a triangle. The harp is played with both hands, either with the fingers or with picks.

In the ancient peoples of Egypt, Israel and Assyria the harp was already played. The instrument reached its greatest popularity in the Middle Ages and then lost fame. Today there are different types of harp.

As the eighteenth century drew to a close, the main historical evolution of the harp emerged in Germany: the inclusion of pedals to increase the instrument’s sonic options. Today the most used harps have seven pedals and 47 strings, made of copper or nickel silver, nylon and sheep’s guts.

The harp is used in classical music, being present in orchestras. The instrument has also been used in jazz, electronic music, rock and pop, although not as frequently. The Celtic folk music, meanwhile, often make use of the harp.

It must be established that there are many and varied types of harps that exist, among which we can highlight the following:
-Mouth harp, also called birimbao. It is a very small musical instrument made up of a metallic bow and a steel reed. It is held in the mouth.
-Celtic harp, which is characterized by having 34 strings and a maximum size of 105 centimeters.
-Medieval harp, which has metal strings and a height that does not exceed 75 centimeters in height.
– Paraguayan harp, which is a key piece of vernacular music and which has the peculiarity that it is tuned in a way very similar to that of a guitar.
-Paraguayan harp, which has nylon strings.

Frenchman Alan Stivell, American Zeena Parkins, Spanish Héctor Braga, Canadian Loreena McKennitt and Argentine Athy are some of the most famous contemporary harpists.

The harp and mythology have a close relationship, since there are many figures in that history who identify with the aforementioned musical instrument. Thus, for example, the god Dagda, who is the most important in Irish Celtic mythology, is established to have a harp made of oak that responded to the name of Uaithne.

This instrument was considered magical since, among other things, it allowed it to control the order of the seasons and had the particularity that it could interpret three melodies: gentraiges (chord of laughter), goltraiges (chord of tears) and suantraiges (chord of dream).

It is said that on one occasion Dagda had the harp stolen by the Fomoré. He managed to get her back by going to where she was and singing. And it is that, when listening to her, that instrument took off from where it was and went towards its owner.

The expression “closer to the harp than to the guitar”, on the other hand, is used in some countries with reference to the nearness of death. This is associated with symbolic images of deceased people playing the harp or lyre.


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