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Celtic Harp All you need to know Latest Method [2022]

Celtic Harp

Celtic Harp All you need to know Latest Method [2022]

Celtic Harp The harp is a very popular musical instrument in Celtic culture, and it is played by many people. Originating about 2800 BC in Ireland, Scotland, Brittany, and Wales, the harp has become one of the most recognisable emblems of the Republic of Ireland. Here is a brief introduction to this Celtic instrument, which is mostly performed in these four countries.

History of the Celtic harp

This was an ancient instrument that was brought up to date in the eleventh century. According to historical records, the earliest Celtic harps were made in the 11th century, and would have been an evolution of the ancient harps from Mesopotamia, Greece, and Egypt (dating back to 2800 BC) and the mediaeval triangular harps.

The original Celtic harps, which were often carved in metal, wood, or stone, would have been developed in Scotland and later widely used in Ireland, where they were known by the Gaelic term “Cláirseach.” It was during this period that a large number of Irish luthiers rose to prominence, producing a large number of Celtic harps. In those days, the vast majority of Irish harpists belonged to the aristocracy; since the harp was such a costly instrument, it was doubtful that ordinary peasants could afford to acquire one of these instruments.

However, the vast majority of harpists were frequently blind, which allowed them to develop very good hearing and write magnificent tunes as a result. Turlough O’Carolan and Ruairi Dall O’Cathain are two of the most well-known figures from this era, to name just a couple. It was during this time period that the Celtic harp was taught at bard schools, a site where Irish Gaelic culture was extensively honored while maintaining a strong sense of heritage.

The exquisite Brian Boru Harp from the 15th century, which is on exhibit in the ancient library of Trinity College, is one of the oldest Celtic harps still in existence. Made of precious wood, with a height of approximately 80 cm and a capacity for no less than 30 sheep gut strings, this piece was crafted. When they were first made, the harps were just 90 cm in length, but it wasn’t until the XVIIth century that they began to grow in size, sometimes reaching 1.5m in length.

Beginning in the seventeenth century, the future of the Celtic harp was in jeopardy!

Unfortunately, the war in Ireland in 1607 signaled the end of the Gaelic order, which resulted in the closure of these cultural enterprises throughout the country. After being neglected and abused by British society, harpists became itinerant musicians, traveling from town to hamlet to perform a few pieces in the company of other musicians, a practice that continues today. The latter, on the other hand, began to become less and less common beginning in the 18th century, and they were on the verge of being extinct alongside the Celtic harp.

When confronted with this scenario, various attempts at modernization were attempted, including a harp festival held in Belfast in 1792. There were just ten harpists that showed up to compete for one of the three top spots available. It was during this time that Edward Bunting, a gifted harpist, published a comprehensive book on the Celtic harp, which was supplemented with design drawings, tutorials in playing skills, and other materials. It was also as a result of this work that the Celtic harp has managed to avoid complete extinction.

Although the Celtic harp was widely reviled for most of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, it regained popularity in the 1950s, when a new generation of classical harp players began to take an interest in the instrument. Since then, the Celtic harp has captivated many artists, including Derek Bell of the Chieftains and Alan Stivell, among others.

Presentation of the Celtic harp

Distinguishing Features

It is composed of a triangular hollow hardwood frame spanned by nylon, steel, or gut strings that are stretched by a metal key system to form the shape of the Celtic harp. It is possible to change the pitch of the notes by adjusting the tension of the strings, which is accomplished through the use of these keys, which are known as “cleats.” The Celtic harp, like the Scottish bagpipe, is played in the key of B flat and features playing skills that are considerably different from those of a classical harp.

  • The harp is a very soft-sounding instrument that is frequently used to induce feelings of wonder and delight.
  • The cost of purchasing a harp can range from 500 to 3000 euros, depending on the quality that is wanted.

Characteristics and Functions

When it comes to construction, the Irish and Scottish harps may be considered as a single piece. Metal strings are a distinguishing aspect of this design. The usage of many types of wire, such as brass and iron, is mentioned in historical records, and some experts support the use of silver and gold as well. It is believed that the wires were joined to a huge sound box, which was often carved from a solid log of willow, but other species of wood, such as alder and poplar, have been discovered in surviving harps.

Additionally, this harp had a robust neck flanked by thick brass bridges on the cheeks, as well as a strengthened curving pillar. The strings, which were often played with fingernails, generated a beautiful ringing sound when played. Also remarkable among single-row triangular harps of this sort is that the first two strings, which were tuned in the centre of the scale, were both set to the same pitch.


It was customary in Scottish Gaelic to refer to the clàrsach components by their Gaelic names, which were as follows:

  • Neck.
  • Pins.
  • Board.
  • chest or sound box.
  • tree or front post.
  • Strings.
  • tumbler.

Brass straps were attached to either side of the board and punctured with tapered brass pins for tuning purposes. There was a spike attached to the triple end, which was placed into the top of the coma (sound box). When making the low-headed harp, the board was cut at the bass end in order to get a thorn on the front post; when making the high-headed harp, the spike was inserted into a groove on the back of the front post. At most cases, a lump (sound box) was cut from a single piece of willow that had been hollowed out in the rear. The back has been covered with a stronger wood piece that has been carefully installed.

The most effective method to Play the Celtic Harp  Latest

It is accepted that the Celtic harp, some of the time called the switch harp or people harp, is resonant to the point that it is likened to the music heard in the sky. With profound roots in the conventional history of Ireland, the Celtic harp is a fairly basic looking wire hung Celtic instrument that expects one to have extraordinary expertise and the persistence of a holy person to rehearse extended periods to play like an expert.
To figure out how to play the harp perfectly, there are sure advances that should be followed to guarantee that the tone is great, the right procedure is being utilized, and the adornments are appropriately organized. Here, we have made a basic framework for you to get everything rolling figuring out how to play the Celtic harp in 6 simple tasks.

Stage 1: Finger Placement

For amateurs, the harp is played utilizing the thumb and the initial three fingers as it were. Since the pinky finger is excessively short, it stays concealed and is seldom utilized. The possibly time it is at any point utilized while playing is the point at which the entire hand is utilized to do glisses (playing a whole octave of strings) or damping (halting the vibrations of the strings). While playing the Celtic harp, finger numbers go from 1 – 4, beginning from the thumb paying little mind to which hand you are utilizing.

Stage 2: Thumbs Up!

Your thumbs ought to be up all the time as though you’re making the catching a ride sign. It ought to be situated to remain over different fingers, and you should keep up with this situation as it will empower you to do hybrids. A “hybrid” is utilized for moving along the harp flawlessly by keeping your thumb over the fingers or by intersecting your fingers under the thumb. An incredible illustration of hybrids should be visible in this Celtic harp instructional exercise by Josh Layne (we enthusiastically prescribe buying into his feed as he has a few extraordinary recordings).

Stage 3: Relax Your Hands

Continuously keep your hands loose and open as though you’re holding a glass of water or a piece of moved-up paper. Your hand should never be solid or you will not have the option to play the Celtic harp appropriately. Certain procedures, including the traditional method, requires your hands to be situated in a few unique points, but you should continuously keep your hands open and loose.

Stage 4: Learn the Proper Plucking Technique

Whenever you pluck, attempt to close your fingers into your palm to give great influence as well as forestall your finger muscles from hardening up. To dominate this method, think as though you have an extremely sensitive butterfly in your grasp as this will assist you with shutting your hand into a level, free clenched hand. Whenever you play the harp, give keeping your elbows a shot from the two sides so there stays adequate room between your arms and body. Following this procedure will keep your wrist from twisting in an abnormal situation while your arm muscles will remain free and free.

Stage 5: Make Sure You Are Comfortable

Another significant thing that amateurs should remember is the distance between the harp and their body. Assuming you end up reshaping your body clumsily to arrive at the harp, you might have to carry the harp nearer to you. Place the harp at a point where you don’t need to bend to see the strings. The guest plan assumes a significant part in this so you might have to utilize a seat riser on the off chance that the harp is excessively low.

Stage 6: How to Prevent Injuries

Last but not least, your wrist ought not to twist for it can prompt redundant strain injury or carpal passage disorder. To forestall harp-related wounds, consistently keep your wrist straight, your hand open and your elbows somewhat up.

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