(redirected from harpist)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Idioms, Wikipedia.


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.


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

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved. www.cc.columbia.edu/cu/cup/


A metal device fitted into the socket of a lamp that holds a lampshade.
Illustrated Dictionary of Architecture Copyright © 2012, 2002, 1998 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved


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
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Since performing at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge last year - one of her final duties as the Prince of Wales' harpist - Jones' profile has risen, particularly internationally.
The harp is an important national instrument in Wales, and although the role of Official Harpist was discontinued during the reign of Queen Victoria, the Prince of Wales restored the position in 2000 in order to foster and encourage young musical talent in Wales and the UK and to raise the profile of the harp as an instrument.
Festival Director Elinor Bennett said: "We wanted to commemorate the centenary of the signing of the treaty which is why Catrin will perform the work of three very influential French composers and harpists during the festival.
"Many people in Abu Dhabi have not listed to a solo harpist, I thought.
Other highlights of the festival, which is in its fourth year, include a celebration of the life and work of the globallyrenowned harpist, Dr Osian Ellis, to mark his 90th birthday.
Cymber Lily Quinn is a harpist, composer, and confidence coach.
FORMER Royal harpist Claire Jones releases her new album on Monday - and we've three copies to be won.
A YOUNG Welsh harpist who was axed by Britain's Got Talent despite getting three "yeses" from judges has vowed to keep chasing her musical dream.
Teenage harpist Emily Hoile, has been offered a place at the Juilliard School in New York, America, but her position hangs in the balance if she can't find around pounds 15,000 she needs to get her there.
TEENAGE harpist Emily Hoile is hoping to pull on Geordie heart strings as she raises money to get her to one of the most prestigious music schools in the world.
FORMER royal harpist Jemima Phillips could face Christmas in jail after being convicted of handling stolen goods.
Summary: A former royal harpist has been convicted of handling stolen goods.