The Harp – Parts of a Wire Strung Harp

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 16,622
    Cynthia Cathcart, a teacher, recording artist, performer, and author discusses the 3 parts of the wire-strung harp.

    Cynthia Cathcart

    Cynthia is one of the world's experts on the Clarsach, the wire-strung harp of the Highland and Islands of Scotland and of Ireland. Performing and teaching internationally, she is leading a new wave of interest in the wire-strung harp. Based near Washington, DC, Cynthia represents Ardival Harps of Strathpeffer, Scotland and is their North American Artist in Residence. Cynthia is a recording artist, and the author of several books for the clarsach. She holds a number of prestigious awards, including two-time U.S. National Scottish Harp Master Champion, three time winner of the Clan Lamont Trophy (in Virginia, Texas and Ohio), and holder of the Pennington-Grey Award for service to the wire-strung harp.

    My name is Cynthia Cathcart, and we are going to talk about the parts of the wire-strung harp. There are basically three parts to the instrument. This bit here is the harmonic curve. It is also sometimes called the arm or the neck of the harp. This bit here, if your harp has it or if your harp or the gutting has it, it is called the highland hump. It is the point of strength for the instrument. This bit here is also sometimes called the shoulder. This is the pillar. It is also sometimes called the forepillar or the bow. It is the strength of the instrument. It is what keeps the whole thing held together. Its curve is the point of strength. This part here is the sound box, the body. The front of it is specifically called the soundboard and you see it has got sound holes in the front in the soundboard. It often has a string rib, and it is a thicker piece of wood down the center of the instrument that gives strength. The wire strings are very, very tight. There is lot of tension on the wire-strung harp, and so strength is very important in the wire-strung harp. These little guys here are string shoes, absolutely necessary. They keep the wire string, which is under always tension from slicing through the soundboard. Part of the sound box is also the foot or the post of the harp, this part here. On this particular instrument, all of this is carved from a single piece of wood. My harp, because it is carved out from a single piece of wood has a separate flat piece of wood that is put over the back of it. So, the harp has been carved out much like a canoe and then this piece is put over the back of it. The strings are tied into a knot and then just pushed through the string holes or sometimes you feed them through the sound hole. Luckily wire-strings dont break that often, if the mat is all gone right for the good harp and so we dont need to worry about replacing strings, and those were the parts of the wire-strung harp.