Julia Lane plays the Celtic harp, also known as the folk harp or lever harp. This type of harp, with a triangular frame, probably originated in southeastern Scotland about 1400 years ago. There are carvings of harps on some of the Pictish stones.
The harp was the instrument of kings and chiefs for many centuries. The harper, along with the bard, was responsible for passing on the songs, stories, genealogies, laws, legends, and myths in the pre-literate societies of northern Europe. The harp went into decline due in part to political upheaval that started in the 16th century and later because of the increasing use of chromaticism in the music of the aristocracy. The folk harp had a brief period of renewed interest with the "Celtic Twilight" movement of the late 19th century. The current popularity of the harp in the United States began about 1970 with the first publication of the Folk Harp Journal by Robbie Robinson. Until 1990 or thereabouts the FHJ was published primarily for builders and the knowledge was freely shared amongst the luthiers. Consequently the quality of instruments available in the United States is very high. There are a few companies which employ some dozens of workers and any number of individual luthiers doing very fine work.
Julia's harp is a custom 5-octave instrument built by Fred Gosbee in 1998. The inlay on the pillar is an obvious custom feature. Less noticable is the oversize sound box. This harp holds about 40% more air than most other harps in its range, which contributes to the resonance.
Julia plays with her fingernails, which is an older technique than is usually practiced today. This gives each note a distinct attack and leads to a wonderful clarity of the musical line.
The harp is is featured on several solo tracks on each Tapestry CD. Annie Laurie, Miss Hamilton, My Lagan Love, Bridget Cruise - Air #3 (Tapestry I), Smiling Spring, The Harmony of May, The Lea Rigs/Corn Rigs, The Last Rose of Summer, Migration (Tapestry II), Dumfries House, Roslin Castle (Tapestry III), Ruari Dall's Jig/Sherrifmuir, Daft Robin, King of the Faeries, Maurice O'Conner (Tapestry IV), Ye Banks and Braes, The Bens of Jura (Tapestry V), The Water Kelpie/The Mermaid, Adrift, Three Sea Captains (Tapestry VI)
The harp is also used throughout the series as the primary accompaniment instrument.