harp

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harp,

stringed musical instrument of ancient origin, the strings of which are plucked with the fingers. Harps were found in paintings from the 13th cent. B.C. at Thebes. In different forms it was played by peoples of nearly all lands throughout the ages. The harp was particularly popular with the Irish from the 9th cent. They adopted the small instrument still in use, called the Irish harp, as a national symbol. The larger instrument was well known on the Continent by the 12th cent. During the 15th cent. the harp came to be made in three parts, as it is today: sound box, neck, and pillar. The strings are stretched between the sound box and the neck; into the neck are fastened the tuning pegs. Chromatic harps, having a string for each tone of the chromatic scale, have appeared since the late 16th cent., but none has been as practical as the diatonic harp, made in the late 17th cent. in the Tyrol and equipped with hooks capable of altering the pitch of any string by a semitone. A pedal mechanism that shortened the strings was devised (c.1720) in Germany. The harp was perfected with Sébastien Érard's invention (c.1810) of the double-action pedals, which can shorten each string twice, raising the pitch by a semitone or a tone. The harp appeared occasionally in the orchestra in the 18th cent., but its regular inclusion there, as well as most of its solo literature, dates from the late 19th cent.

Bibliography

See R. Rensch, The Harp (1970) and Harps and Harpists (1989).

Harp

A metal device fitted into the socket of a lamp that holds a lampshade.

harp

1. a large triangular plucked stringed instrument consisting of a soundboard connected to an upright pillar by means of a curved crossbar from which the strings extend downwards. The strings are tuned diatonically and may be raised in pitch either one or two semitones by the use of pedals (double-action harp). Basic key: B major; range: nearly seven octaves
2. an informal name (esp in pop music) for harmonica
References in classic literature ?
I was dumb when she leaned beside the harp again, playing it, but not sounding it, with her right hand.
It was Robin Hood, who had borrowed Allan's be-ribboned harp for the time.
quoth the Bishop, "and what do you here at the church-door with you harp and saucy air?
Bertram, if you write to your brother, I entreat you to tell him that my harp is come: he heard so much of my misery about it.
Edmund reverted to the harp, and was again very happy in the prospect of hearing her play.
And we agreed it would be best to have the harp, for it seems to amuse her more than the piano-forte.
While he lay perdu in Steward's stateroom, his voice was the one thing that was not to be heard, so Kwaque was forced to seek the solace of his jews' harp in the sweltering heat of the gratings over the fire-room.
The streak of daylight being now excluded from the room, Miss Dunross threw back her veil, and took the harp on her knee; seating herself, I observed, with her face turned away from the fire.
Cecilia; or, rather, as I thought, the ancient harp of the Welsh bards.
He closed his eyes and rested his head on the frame of the harp.
A general laugh followed this sally at the dentist's expense, in the midst of which the gleeman placed his battered harp upon his knee, and began to pick out a melody upon the frayed strings.
Arriving in Perth the day after the festivities at Swanhaven, Bishopriggs proceeded to the Harp of Scotland--at which establishment for the reception of travelers he possessed the advantage of being known to the landlord as Mrs.