Saturday, January 25, 2020

How To Hold The Harp

The earliest known written mention of Jews harp makers here is from the beginning of the 15th century, in documents of the parish of Molln as well as in the land register for the town of Steyr and the territory belonging to it. In parallel with the iron industry in the Eisenwurzen region, the home-production of this little musical instrument by family businesses developed into a profitable pursuit.

So, we're evidently stuck with the same name by which Lewis and Clark knew this "very small musical instrument." Short of switching to one of its many other common names, the simplest alternative is to drop the capital j, and skip the apostrophe—jews harp.

Images showing half- or three-quarter-length figures playing musical instruments became popular with the Netherlandish artists who had visited Italy and had been influenced by similar paintings by the celebrated Michelangelo Merisi Caravaggio (1571-1610) and his followers.

Áron has created, managed and played in music projects that have gained big success in the world-music scene, he is promoter for festivals and world-music events, organses Jew's harp festivals, gives workshops worldwide, director of the biggest musical instrument museum in Hungary, writes articles and runs a webshop dedicated to the Jew's harp.

With a little practice you can draw a mouth harp third harmonics (fifth perfect connection to the fundamental), fifth (third highest in the reference above), seventh (seventh child in a lower pitch to the note equivalent of the Western tuning system), eighth (key note, two octaves above), ninth (second highest) and Tenth (repetition of the fifth, eighth most acute).

Dublin pedal harp maker John Egan developed a new type of harp which had gut strings and semitone mechanisms like an orchestral pedal harp; it was small and curved like the historical cláirseach or Irish harp, but its strings were of gut and the soundbox was much lighter.

Most of the metal historical mouth harp artifacts are in decay, as oxidation has made finding them in working order hard to come by. The fact that many of these instruments are made from materials that don't last long, such as bamboo, makes it clear that finding them as old as the ancient bone flutes mentioned above hard to imagine.

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