Gold harp strings

20 10 2014

Recently I was told about wire strung harps, and that while mythology sometimes referred to them as ‘golden’ this may not have been hyperbole but in fact descriptive. What?! Yes, harps may have in fact been strung with gold.

What a fabulous thing.

Henry VIII playing harp; click on image for original Wiki source

Henry VIII playing harp; click on image for original Wiki source

A little bit of internets reading later, and I’ve found a few articles you may be interested in if you’d like to read more.

An article (2003) by Ann Heymann indicates that an Australian team were the first to practically explore the possibility of precious metal strings, and successfully used silver. Eventually she led a team that strung a specific kind of harp, a clairseach, with gold strings.

Another article (2010) by Cynthia Cathcart explores her own journey to string a harp with (sterling) silver.

Lastly, there’s an article comparing wire-strung and gut-strung harps … probably one for the musically focused reader. In fact the site this article is from is dedicated to harps … for the musician for sure!

So interesting … the second article will be of interest to technical metalsmiths, as it describes various hardness tests etc.


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