Harp Strings, Heart Strings

25 May

I was tuning my harp recently, and started thinking about all the metaphors that are present in a harp. My harp is a double-strung harp, meaning it has two rows of strings instead of one row, and so it takes quite a while to tune, so I had some time to think about it.  Read on, and consider how harps and harp music illustrate- with a little metaphorical imagination- the human condition. After every statement, please insert “just like with humans”.

It takes a long time to tune a harp.

Each string has its own tuning peg. You have to turn the peg until the string is tuned to the chosen key.

Harps are sensitive instruments; temperature and humidity changes can make them go flat or sharp.

You can tell when a harp string is in tune with its fellow strings: when you pluck it, all the strings around it resonate and sing.

One string, when plucked, sounds lovely; but play many strings together, and you get a whole variety of interesting music: melancholy, uplifting, mysterious, sweet, cheerful…

If you want your instrument to last and play well, you really have to treat it with care and respect.

There’s a sweet spot for every string, where it resonates the most and sounds best.

Harp music has been used for thousands of years to heal and soothe. (Listen to the Hurrian Hymn, written in about 1400 B.C.)

A harp is a very expressive and flexible instrument! You can play almost any kind of music with a harp. (Check out Dorothy Ashby’s jazz harp, paraguayan folk harp harp metal, a wunderkind on classical pedal harp  West African Kora, pop music, and of course, celtic music! )

Please remember this: our ultimate destiny as human beings is to realize our capacity to love, heal and make music together!





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