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Music Appreciation

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The harp is the oldest known stringed instrument. The word "harp" originally comes from Anglo-Saxon, Old German, and Old Norse words meaning to "pluck". After much research into the harp I found that no one really knows where the harp originated but one of the earliest musical instrument discoveries showed a harp like instrument on rock paintings dating back to 15,000 B.C. in France. Many people believe that the earliest harps came from the sounds of hunter's bows.

In Egypt some of the earliest images of bow harps are from the Pharaoh's tombs dating back 5,000 years ago. These images show that there were many harps in Ancient Egypt. The Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses III had several bow harps painted on his tomb. In the New Kingdom harps were measured to be up too 6 and a half feet tall with 19 strings and could be played either sitting up or seated.

Harps were very popular in ancient Assyria and Mesopotamia. One of the earliest illustrations of a harp was on a vase found in a Babylonian temple. These harps were angled harps with 12 to 15 strings and similar to the bowed instruments played in Egypt about the same time. The angle harp represents the next step in history towards the modern harp. The angle harp differs from what we call the harp today in that it lacked the front-piece, column or pillar. It was played "upside down" from its present playing orientation, with the tuning pegs on the bottom.

Between 1792 and 1802 John Egan established a factory in Dublin to build harps. A mechanism was developed connecting the string arm hooks with levers that could be operated by the feet. A great step forward. But none were really practical until finally the Couineau harp makers in Paris developed the present day pedal harp. Because all harps were gilded with 22CRT gold, the price made them only for the wealthy. In the last fifty years there has been a great resurgence of harp playing. The building of smaller



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