------------------------------------------------------------------------------HARP The harp is a chordophone (stringed musical instrument) consisting of a set of parallel strings stretched between a resonator and

a neck that are joined together at one end. The plane of the strings is perpendicular to the resonator; by contrast, the strings of the other major categories of chordophones (lutes, lyres, and zithers), run parallel to the resonator. Harps of antiquity and primitive cultures are generally pillarless; on the other hand, the frame harp, which has been favored by European musicians, has a pillar that braces the open end of the angle formed by the resonator and neck. This arrangement allows for a greater string tension and, consequently, a higher pitch relative to size. The modern orchestral harp stands approximately 170 cm high (5.5 ft) and has the largest range in the orchestra: more than 5 1/2 octaves (the lowest note is C flat below the bass staff). Its structure consists of a tapering, hollow body covered with a thin soundboard (the resonator), a doubly curved neck that carries the tuning pins, and a straight, hollow pillar. At the base of the harp are seven pedals, one for each degree of the diatonic scale. rotating pronged discs placed under the strings on the neck, enable the player to raise the pitch of all of the strings for each degree of the scale either a semitone (pedal at half hitch activating discs in the first row) or a whole tone (pedal fully depressed activating discs in the second row); the instrument is thus totally chromatic (a sequence of notes proceeding by semitones). The harp is strung in gut or nylon in the upper and middle registers. The bass strings are of overspun wire. Pillarless arched harps (in which the neck is merely a curved extension of the resonator) and angular harps (in which the neck is a separate part attached at one end to the resonator) were prevalent in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. Although known to the Greeks, the harp was eclipsed in classical times by instruments of the LYRE family. The frame harp is believed to have come into Europe from a northern, possibly Ugro-Finnic, source and appears to have been developed early, particularly by the Irish. The short medieval harp with outcurving pillar so widely represented in iconography from the 8th century on was supplanted from about the mid-15th century by the much narrower Gothic harp with a nearly straight pillar, indicating increased string tension. Attempts to provide chromatic tones were made from the 16th strings. In the late 17th century the hook harp emerged; when metal hooks that were set into the neck near the tuning pins were turned, they pressed against the strings and raised the pitch by a semitone. Development of various pedal mechanisms during the 18th century resulted ultimately in the patent granted to Sebastien Erard in 1810 for the modern double action pedal system. Although the harp had fallen into disuse, except as a novelty instrument, long before the development of the orchestra of the classical period, the chromatic flexibility offered by the pedal harp along with an increasing thirst for orchestral color made the harp increasingly appealing to composers in the 19th century. As a result, the harp became a regular member of the orchestra of Berlioz, Wagner, and Tchaikovsky. NICHOLAS RENOUF Bibliography: Rensch, Roslyn, The Harp (1969); Rimmer, Joan, The Irish Harp (1969). ------------------------------------------------------------------------------####################################################################