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Saturday, 30 May 2015



The earliest tuneable instrument, the stringed harp, was first plucked in modern-day Iraq in around 4500 BC.

The earliest harp still existing is an instrument from the Sumerian civilization, about 3000 BC. It is thought that the instrument came into being when the string of a bow was stretched and several more strings were added to this configuration.

A rock engraving of a harpist, dating from the 18th century BC, exists at Saqqara, Egypt.

Two types of harps were known in the Assyrian civilization of the 8th and 7th centuries BC. One had its resonating sound chest toward the bottom, the other toward the top.

In the 9th century BC the Syrian harp known as the trigon appeared with a frontal pillar support. This was copied and adapted by the Greeks in the 4th century BC. Eventually it became the model for harps throughout Western Europe.

The word harpa was first used around the year 600 and is a generic term for stringed instruments.

During the growth of Islam, the harp traveled from north Africa to Spain during the eighth century. Its use soon spread throughout Europe.

The harp has been on Ireland’s coat of arms since the thirteenth century.

The most celebrated of the twelfth-century harpists of Ireland was Torlogh O'Carolan (or Carolan), who was blind. He composed about 200 songs, many of which were published in Dublin in 1720.

The harp was added to European orchestras at the beginning of the seventeenth century.

Sebastien Erard (1752-1831), was a French piano and harp maker. He patented his double-action harp in which each pedal has three positions in the early 19th century: this became the basis of the modern concert harp. At his Paris workshop Enard also invented the mechanical harpsichord, and the piano with double escapement.


The verb harp means to talk on and on about one subject similar to a harpist plucking the same string over and over.

A modern harpist plays using only the first four fingers on each hand. They pluck the strings near the middle of the harp using the pads of their fingers. Irish harpists use their fingernails to pluck the wire strings.

A top-of-the-range harp will set you back £140,000 ($200,000). Lyon and Healy's Louis XV Special concert grand is intricately carved and clad in 23-carat gold leaf.

The harp has been Ireland's national symbol since the thirteenth century.

Sources The Independent,, Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia © 1998 The Learning Company, Inc.

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