Jew's Harp

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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.


References in periodicals archive ?
It was in Club Buildings (now Stanford Drive), Shell Corner and Hawes Lane that the jew's harp makers clustered, as well as in the hamlet of Newtown over in Netherton.
By the middle of the 19th century, Leonard Cohen has experimented with the Jew's however, the Jew's harp makers were beginning to migrate from Staffordshire to Birmingham, which, I imagine, offered the economies of scale for greater productivity.
David Troman's sons, like good apprentices to the trade, then fanned out across the town, establishing their own Jew's harp workshops in Heneage Street, Great Brook Street and Avon Street.
Versions of the Jew's harp can be found in many ' parts of the world, but for its manufacture you have to turn to a handful of streets in the Black Country
Dirck van Babwen's 1621 painting, Young Man with Jew's harp
Playing two Jew's harps, one in each hand, is a known technique, practised by skilled players, particularly in Austria today and in Ireland in the recent past.
Two finds of Jew's harps have been made at Achandun Castle, on the island of Lisemore.
We have a number of references in literature of the seventeenth century that mention an association between Jew's harps and the fair.
The evidence for Donald McIlmichall's ability is limited to the comment that he played Jew's harps, with no indication of his skill.
For further information, see his Jew's Harps in European Archaeology, BAR International Series, 1500 (Oxford: Archaeopress, 2006).
Amongst all the thousands of trial documents recorded in England and Scotland between 1590 and 1825, twenty-four trials have the distinction of mentioning the musical instrument known as the Jew's harp or Jew's trump (often simply 'trump', especially in modern Scottish usage) (Figure 1).
Berestov's Concert Improvisations for Jew's Harp and Orchestra, composed in the 1970s for Ivan Alekseyev.