Harp – Opinions, Analysis and Buying Guide in 2021
Probably one of the oldest instruments is the harp and its tone, commonly described as angelic, has allowed it to survive countless changes in its design over time. So today, we can find harp players, who add this peculiar sound to compositions of modern genres such as pop or rock. If you intend to get a harp, we invite you to discover some interesting options on the net, such as the Bucca Sonic 10 cm , which includes a traditional and attractive design or the Angelsworld 27 Celtic-type strings , with string set Spare part and tuning key included.
How to choose the best harps
If you have any doubts regarding the features that might be important when comparing harps, don’t worry; Below we provide some recommendations that could be useful in our guide to buying the best harp, with which we seek to help you better identify the model that meets your needs.
Harps are instruments that have a very ancient history , which is why we can find them in many different shapes, sizes and sound qualities. So you could start to discard models from knowing what type of harp you are interested in.
For example, if you are looking for one of small dimensions, a mouth harp or a Dan Moi type could be a good alternative; since they are instruments that measure around 10 cm and you can take them with you easily. But this does not mean that they are limited in sounds, since they are capable of reproducing a wide range of tones, which you could discover as you learn the techniques to use them. In addition, their introduction to music is very varied, being possible to use them both as a complement to traditional and modern music, due to their interesting sound that is even usually emulated with electronic synthesizers.
But if you are looking for other types of options, there are well-known variants of harps such as string ones. Among them we also find classifications, some of the most used being the Celtic harp, which is numerous in strings and therefore in a variety of tones, which gives the musician the opportunity to interpret an extensive repertoire of melodies.
The size of this type of harp can vary from very small around 30 cm, to some that exceed one meter in height. Generally, these harps can have a high cost, because they are instruments made up of numerous pieces and the complexity of their structure poses a challenge for luthiers. So if you wonder how much it costs, its size and number of strings may be an important variable that will determine this trait, but there could be a good and inexpensive option.
The materials chosen for the manufacture of harps vary depending on their type, finding bronze and brass options for those that are played with the mouth; but if it comes to string harps, the most common is to find fine woods like spruce with some others like rosewood, which can be chosen for the soundboard or specific pieces due to their qualities of hardness and resonance.
Our recommendation is that you always look for quality materials. Especially in the mouth harps, it is intended that they be alloys resistant to corrosion, in this way you will avoid putting an item contaminated with traces of rust on your lips. While for the string ones, what is sought is that the frame that holds the strings is rigid enough to withstand all the tension involved in having the harp in tune.
Speaking of tuning, this is another important point you might consider. We recommend that you verify the tone registry that you can get with the model that has been to your liking. Remembering that the more strings you have, the greater the versatility of the instrument, and the better it is that these strings have the tones that are most attractive to you.
On the other hand, you might also be interested to know if it has semitones or some type of pedal or levers to access midtones easily while you are playing the instrument.
Along with the harp, some manufacturers add accessories that could be basic and that purchasing them separately can be a problem because not all of them are compatible with your model. Some items could be a transport or storage case to prevent your instrument from being damaged, spare strings or an instruction manual for use, with which you could have more information regarding how to tune or care for your harp.
When we talk about this point, we are referring mainly to string harps, which are those that can lose their tuning over time or suffer the normal deterioration of some replaceable parts. It is recommended that you have a set of ropes on hand, in case one of them breaks. On the other hand, it could also be useful to verify if a tool has been included in the harp set to keep the instrument in tune, since some harps have very specific shaped pegs, which require a very particular tuning key.
Frequently asked questions
Q1: Where does the Celtic harp come from?
The harp in general has a very ancient origin , which makes it difficult to determine exactly where it was first built and how the versions of this instrument came to the Celtic region. However, there are indications that in Egyptian cultures it already had an important role in society, which makes one suspect that travelers could have brought models to present-day Scotland, where vestiges corresponding to the 8th century can already be found. These old models of harps are already much more similar to the harp that we currently know, their main function being that of accompanying poetry .
Q2: How to sound the mouth harp?
To make this peculiar instrument sound, the first thing you need to do is hold it correctly. In a vertical position and without touching the center section, since this is the one that vibrates and will make it resonate. Now it is recharged sideways touching the cheek, taking care that the central rod is free and with the end bent out of the mouth. Then he surrounds himself with his lips and while the rod is pressed with one finger, the body of the harp is held with the opposite hand. If you want a higher or lower pitch, you will have to make the tongue space wider or smaller.
Q3: How to tune the harp?
As with other string instruments, it is the tension of each of the strings that gives it the correct sound. So you must have a rope of the corresponding thickness and tighten with the peg until you achieve the desired tone.
To achieve this more easily, you can use a digital tuner, with which you can guide yourself precisely, so that each string has the tone that has been assigned, preferably following a progressive order in the chromatic scale to make it more comfortable .
Q4: Is a harp and a lyre the same?
Although both instruments have a similar concept, there are differences between them that define each one differently. The lyre is generally smaller and this is because it was designed to accompany its performer while he was standing, giving him freedom of movement to walk while reciting poetry. Regarding the number of strings, it can also be more limited. There are some with 6 or 7 strings, although in Egypt it is known that they had up to 18.
Q5: Why is the harp shaped like that?
The Celtic harp has a triangular basic shape, where the bass registers are on the longest strings and the treble registers are at the opposite end, closer to the player. This peculiar shape has two main functions, one is to control the tension of the strings, which becomes such that it reaches 2 and a half tons in some models, so in addition to having a shape that can structurally tolerate it, it must be manufactured with very specific and resistant materials.
Q6: How to make a laser harp with arduino?
This project is quite simple in concept, it is based on connecting some LDR sensors to the Arduino board, which will be pointed through laser lights to activate them. When the board detects that the laser signal has been lost, then it will emit the sound of the corresponding note. The more sensors that are attached, the more tones it will be possible to play. Other elements are also necessary, such as a VS1053 sound card, a button to control the system on and off, as well as a speaker.
Q7: Is it worth buying a handmade harp?
This will depend on the purpose of the harp. If it is a more decorative than musical object, then the design and aesthetic elements will be worth more than its acoustic qualities. So if it meets your expectations for this feature, it might be worth it. But if the goal is to perform music, then it will be worth taking a good look at the quality of the instrument and the sound it is capable of providing, as well as the materials from which it is made, to determine whether it will be durable.
Q8: How to play the Ayacuchana harp?
There are very diverse techniques, being the tradition or style to be interpreted the one that determines if the harpist will concentrate more on the left or right hand, but in general, western harmonization rules are not always respected, but a large number of generally double note chords.
How to use a harp
This beautiful instrument, unlike others, is not usually acquired in the beginner or professional harpist modalities. So if you have acquired a harp, chances are that it will provide you with many hours of music. For this reason, it is worth knowing some basic recommendations that will help you keep it better for longer.
Choose a suitable place to place it
In general, these instruments are made with different woods, so the first thing you should take into account to take care of it is to keep your harp away from the effects that sudden changes in temperature, excessive humidity and the risks of receiving a blow could mean. accidental.
Starting with changes in temperature, it is better that you choose a special place to place it when it is not being used; A place away from any exposure to direct sunlight. It should also not be near a fireplace or source of heat that can radiate the instrument.
Regarding humidity, evaluate the place where you live and if it is a humid climate, it is best to have an appropriate case on hand to cover your harp. It might even be a good idea to place some moisture-wicking product around it, which you can leave in the same case.
Keep the wood hydrated
To prevent the wood from weakening, it is convenient that you moisten it through a special product for wood. This will also keep it from being susceptible to moisture, putting a waterproof layer between the weather conditions and the wood. You should apply it only in the necessary amount, without overdoing it and with a cloth that is always dry.
Clean the strings
Our fingers usually deposit traces of grease and acids on the strings, which deteriorate the condition of the strings. These accessories are usually not affordable, so it is better to take care of them to avoid a frequent change of them. A good practice is to always clean the strings after playing or practicing and you can do this with a dry cloth.
Take care of the tuning and the type of strings
The tension of the strings is part of the structure of the instrument, so you have to maintain it, but also be attentive to extraordinary eventual situations, such as traveling on an airplane. This subjects the instrument to pressure changes that will need to be remedied not only by lowering the tuning of the instrument, but also by additional protection of the entire instrument.
In the event that it is necessary to change a string, do not forget that it takes some time for these to stabilize its sound, so it is normal that in its first days you have to add tension to achieve its correct tone. But after this period, he will be able to maintain it.
Likewise, avoid mounting steel strings on an instrument designed for nylon strings and vice versa. The change can be tempting because of the different nuance they offer, but this can subject the structure to a sudden change that could even break it.