Visual Encyclopedia

Harp

The harp is a stringed musical instrument that has a number of individual strings running at an angle to its soundboard; the strings are plucked with the fingers. Harps have been known since antiquity in Asia, Africa and Europe, dating back at least as early as 3500 BCE. The instrument had great popularity in Europe during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, where it evolved into a wide range of variants with new technologies, and was disseminated to Europe's colonies, finding particular popularity in Latin America. Although some ancient members of the harp family died out in the Near East and South Asia, descendants of early harps are still played in Myanmar and parts of Africa, and other defunct variants in Europe and Asia have been utilized by musicians in the modern era.

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One of the more unconventional modern harpists is Deborah Henson-Conant. She performs using a DHC Light. The DHC Light is made of a carbon fiber frame (the same material used for racing bikes) and contains a microphone on each string. The DHC Light can be strapped to the body so that it can be played while walking/standing. Deborah Henson-Conant performs live but also has recorded some of her music. Her live performance with the Grand Rapids Symphony is recorded on her CD "Invention & Alchemy".

Contributed by Katie Quandt

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