Jew's Harp

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Jew’s Harp


(in Russian, vargan), self-sounding reed instrument, either a plate made of wood, bone, or metal or a metal bow with a reed in the middle. When played, it is pressed to or squeezed by the teeth; the reed is pinched by a finger, thread, or stick. The mouth serves as a moving resonator; the tones of the overtone series needed to play the melody are picked out by changing the shape and size of the mouth cavity. The quietness and small range—a fourth or fifth—of the Jew’s harp limits its repertoire to short dance melodies and traditional tunes. The Jew’s harp is found among many peoples of Middle and Southeast Asia and Oceania (plate-shaped) and also Europe, Central Asia, and Africa (bow-shaped); it has various national names. A perfected Jew’s harp, the aura, was popular in Europe in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
| Medicine Head perform on Top Of The Pops in 1973, with, top right, John Fiddler on guitar and vocals and Peter Hope-Evans on Jew's harp. Left, among their champions was Radio one DJ John Peel, along with John Lennon, Phil Collins and Pete Townshend
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Vocalist Tane Raj Singh Sodha and Khan Sakar Manganiar, Dholak (double-sided drum), Khadtal (castanets) and Morchang (Jew's harp) performances have left audiences spellbound all over the world .
Michael Wright's study of the Jew's harp in the law is also a ground-breaking piece, unearthing the association of what in past centuries was an extraordinarily popular musical instrument with criminal wrongdoing.