These are the instruments used for the performances on these recordings. When we play live we use the harp, 12-string guitar, fiddle, Irish flute, and viola. In the studio we sometimes add other instruments, such as cello or bass.
Note: If you happen to see us in Europe we have basically the same road kit but different instruments. It makes the trans-Atlantic flights a whole lot easier.
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.
Julia began her career as an accompanist and still frequently uses her harp to support her own vocals as well as accompanying other instruments