Analysis of Musical Instruments
One could say that the harp is the instrument bearing the imprints of different cultures and a lion’s share of human civilization’s history, and this statement will be supported in the current paper with help of closer insight into the harp’s history, background, and description.Waltham and Kotlicki (1774) state that “harps exist in different forms, from large factory-made concert harps to small hand-made folk harps”. This means that the harp was modified many times throughout centuries of its existence in different cultures, yet the stem always remained the same.
Therefore, the harp is a stringed musical instrument consisting of the soundboard – typically made of wood – and from 45 to forty strings, which used to be made of gut but are mostly replaced by metal or nylon nowadays. The carcass of the modern harp has a triangular shape and the size of approximately one meter (earlier versions of the harp had rectangular soundboards). The principal importance is granted to the top part of the instrument, or its neck, as all the strings going from the lower end of the harp, where they are fastened off in the firm wood strip, is secured by the crossbar containing special wrest pins that are aimed at the adjustment of each string’s pitch.
The lower end of the harp, in its turn, is referred to as a sounding board, and the wooden strip contains a hole for each string, where the latter is fastened with help of a knot. The distance between the sounding board and the neck of the harp as well as the tension set by wrest pins define the pitch of each string. The resonating power of the carcass is achieved owing to its hollowness – once a player plucks a string, the resonating body produces the sound. As far as the harp is characterized by the irregular triangular shape, the longest part of the carcass is referred to as a pillar or column.
However, early instruments were different by their external shape and thus were deprived of pillars. It is obvious that strings are very taut, and thus the primary task of the pillar is to support the neck of the harp so that it can resist the strain. Modern harps – especially those intended for concerts – also have pedals that make string adjustment easier and quicker, but the older versions of the instrument could produce only a single note in a certain position and strain of the string.