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 Lane's Harp

Celtic Harp

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 Yuletide Treasure, as well as in duo arrangements with Deborah Friou's harps.

Angels We Have Heard was recorded using a Webster Cecelia 35-string harp. This is the harp that she now uses when she performs in Europe.


Dusty Strings FH 36

dusty strings harp
Deborah Friou performs on a Dusty Strings FH 36 square backed harp, perhaps the most popular folk harp in America.

Triplett Wire Harp

Click here for more information about Triplett wire harps

triplett harp
The wire harp has a bell-like quality of sound. The usual technique is to play with the fingernails. However, for players like Deborah, who play with the pads of the fingers, the string spacing and tension of most wire harps makes them difficult to play. This Triplett harp was specially designed with the "pad player" in mind and has wider string spacing and a lower string tension than usual. Consequently the harp has a very light, ethereal sound.

On Yuletide Treasure this harp is played solo and as a wonderful textural accompaniment to Julia Lane's Greenwood harp.

2006-08-06 Castlebay, Inc.
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