The harp is a triangle fitted with ropes of varying lengths strained whose shorter notes are the most acute. It is an asymmetric instrument, contrary to the lyre whose strings are stretched between two parallel amounts. The harp has a sound that relates to water.

In ancient times, there were two kinds of harps: the arched harp and harp angular.

The harp is an instrument several thousand years.

It is with some flute and percussion instruments, one of the oldest musical instruments. It is perhaps born of the arc with the rope, tense and relaxed, vibrates and emits a sound.

Originally from eastern very old, the first signs are approximately 3500 years before Christ, it is known musicians from ancient Egypt, as of Sumer and Babylon. The harp has spread throughout various civilizations and all continents in different forms.

La Harpe was a universal instrument: on the famous on all continents and all segments of society expressed through his art.

In Europe, it is reported to the SE of Scotland on the stones "Picts" around the ninth century AD, and in Ireland during the High Middle Ages. She then took its modern form: triangular, apparently placed on the bleeding edge, and with the column that connects the console (where the strings cling) at the bottom of the resonance chamber. Its use then spreads across the continent.
The number of strings and shape vary depending on the evolution of civilizations, the needs of the music, technology manufacturing and the need for refinements inexhaustible musical.

The medieval harp remains unalterably diatonic (diatonic scale), whereas chromaticism gradually invades the music. Under the Renaissance still used harps diatonic (Gargantua Rabelais learned to play the harp). But lack of chromaticism leads to a loss of the instrument to the lute and keyboard instruments being born. To overcome this handicap, the Italian luthiers build arpa doppia, harp double containing two parallel rows of strings. Then, in 1697, a luthier Bavarian Hochbrücker, invented a mechanism, using pedals permit to perform certain modulations.

The harp was introduced in France in 1749. It is a single harp movement. It was around 1800 that the famous factor pianos, Sebastian Erard, invented the famous banding movement that will allow the harp, to compete again with other chromatic. The harp, but not classified among the instruments transposers, often plays anything other than what is written using the homophones or enharmonic notes (homophonie). In response to these criticisms, in 1894, Gustave Lyon, director of the house Pleyel, tried to resume the principle of chromatic harps double rows of strings cross. The success of the harp was short lived and died Gustave Lyon in 1936, it disappeared almost completely from the musical life.

The diatonic harp, or pedals
The pedal harp, or classical harp is the one that is used in the symphony orchestra and in the training chamber music classics themselves. It is the most sophisticated of harps.

It has 40 strings (for harps study) to 47 strings (for the concert harps), which provides a range of six octaves. These strings mostly hose, except for the most serious strings (the last two octaves), which are made of metal, they are called strings spun (copper thread on core steel), the strings are the most acute nylon. Some harps have no gut strings but nylon ropes replace them, giving another sound to the instrument, the concert (and instrumentalists) often prefer gut strings, which give a more sound "Round "frank, which also gives a harmony of material for the orchestra. Some strings are colored to identify key notes: do are red and families are black or blue. The other strings are colorless.

The pedal harp can be single-or dual-motion movement. In both cases, it refers to the mechanism linking the pedals to strings to change the length and can play music tampering, ie the sharps and bémols. These mechanisms are only reduce the length of the vibrating string, and does not change (ideally) the tension.

On a double movement harp, invented by Sebastian Erard in 1810, each string can play three heights: flat if the pedal is released (= top), bécarre if it is blocked on the guts of the medium, and sharp if it is totally is pressed.

There are 7 pedals that change the 7 notes of the scale on all octaves. From left to right, they correspond to the notes D, do, though, mi, fa, sol, for the large harp. The first three pedals are reserved to the left foot, in the last 4 right foot. On some models, especially on harps Érard, an eighth pedal used to actuate the flaps closed the resonator. The Erard harp from the photo opposite originally had in (rectangular block).

Harping single movement, like the Celtic harp, allows only two heights by rope. The invention of the harp single movement is attributed to the factor German Hochbrücker (1699 - 1763). There is the harp single movement generally in E flat major - all released pedals - which it possible to play up until 3 or 4 bémols sharps. The number of tones is limited, but the mechanism, simpler, enables the production of less expensive instruments.

The chromatic harp
Invented in 1894 by Gustave Lyon, director of the firm Pleyel, to compete with the diatonic harp pedal, it has two strings Crusaders plans: a plan for bécarres ropes, a plan for bémols and sharps. It allows the implementation of all traits chromatic with great speed, but unlike the diatonic harp, it does not glissandi in all modes and tones.

To demonstrate the possibilities of the instrument, the firm commissioned in 1904 Pleyel a work to Claude Debussy Danses who composed the sacred and profane for chromatic harp and string orchestra. But this work is also playable on diatonic harp, however, very difficult passages pedals. Let André Caplet wrote a first version of its Conte fantastic for chromatic harp and orchestra in 1908, entitled Legend. He then adapt the work for diatonic harp and string quartet in 1924.

In response, and to promote the possibilities of diatonic harp, the firm spent Érard command in 1905 of a work to Maurice Ravel who wrote the Introduction and Allegro for harp accompaniment with a string quartet, a flute and a clarinet.

It was anticipated a change in the chromatic harp by adding pedals, thus enabling both rapid and chromatismes glissandi of the diatonic harp. The harp was to come on stream in 1914, but World War I put an end to the project and the chromatic harp fell into oblivion gradually in the post-war years.

A class of chromatic harp existed at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris from 1903 to 1933.

A class of chromatic harp continued at the Royal Conservatory of Brussels until 2005. It was opened in 1900, closed in 1953, then reopened in 1978.

It should be noted that an association has been newly created at the initiative of Vanessa Gerkens

The Celtic harp
See detailed article Celtic Harp

Some citations Irish twelfth century:

* "Every gentleman should have a cushion on his chair, a woman and a harp well placed"
* "Three objects are not seizable through the courts: the book, the harp and the sword"

The Celtic harp is a central instrument in the world Celtic; more than "traditional", it is an expression of a culture classic Celtic, and now a contemporary Celtic music, there is usually 32 to 38 strings. It is recognizable to its bow, always bent. Widespread Ireland in the Middle Ages, it has changed little since (except some modern creations). It now serves also to learn to play the harp.

Nowadays, the strings are mostly nylon, but there are also instruments mounted hose (mutton), or metal. Some strings are usually colorful, as with the pedal harp, in order to identify the notes of the scale. For example, do red and families are black / blue / green.

Some catches (or pallets), set near the top of each string, can alter the height of a semitone to play tampering (sharps / bémols). There is usually the Celtic harp in E flat major with the tabs in the down position, which in turn helps to play in tones with up to four sharps or up to three bémols.

The Celtic harp corresponds to a directory, or traditional scholar, Irish, Scots and, since the 50's, Breton. But it also adapts to classical and contemporary repertoires (jazz, folk-rock, "world", electro-rock, pop, new age…). It accompanies ideally singing solo. Its small size makes it an instrument of choice to start learning the pedal harp, although it has a technical own game, which differs from the classical harp on Thursday. Most of the instruments are acoustic, but there are electro-acoustic harp and purely electric (see Alan Stivell).

The troubadour harp / Bardic
There are also smaller harps, can be tethered, which can play up and moving. Traditionally, this harp called Bardic has metal strings. His reference period is the Middle Ages of the fifth century to the fifteenth century. Its repertoire is around ancient music and traditional Celtic. There are also a small modern instrument to its dynamic and brilliant with mostly 22 nylon ropes, in the register acute. Dite "troubadour harp", it refers to the musicians who used this type of instrument to accompany songs, dances and stories.

* Elizabeth and Rémi CHAUVET et alii (Myrdhin, Alan Stivell, Dominig Bouchaud, Tristan Le Govic…), the harp Anthology: The Celtic harp, editions of the Tannery, with an audio CD and a history of the harp.
* Alan Stivell and Jean-Noël Verdier, Telenn, Harp Bretonne, editions Telegram.
* Michael Faul, Charles-Nicolas Bochsa: harpist, composer, swindler, Delatour 2003 editions. ISBN 2-7521-0000-0.
* Michael Faul, tribulations Mexican-Charles Nicolas Bochsa, harpist, Delatour 2006 editions. ISBN 2-7521-0033-7.
* Christine Y Delyn, Denis patent drawings, Clairseach, the Irish harp: the origins of the Celtic harp, ed. Hent Telenn Breizh, 1998. Reference book amply illustrated on the history of ancient Irish harp, and its role in the Irish civilization. 175 pages.


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