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Jews Harp banned?

GUEST 16 Jun 14 - 04:31 PM
Uncle_DaveO 16 Jun 14 - 04:42 PM
Steve Gardham 16 Jun 14 - 04:56 PM
Jack Campin 16 Jun 14 - 05:29 PM
Gurney 17 Jun 14 - 12:09 AM
MGM·Lion 17 Jun 14 - 12:28 AM
MGM·Lion 17 Jun 14 - 12:35 AM
GUEST 17 Jun 14 - 07:15 AM
Jack Campin 17 Jun 14 - 08:20 AM
Steve Gardham 17 Jun 14 - 08:34 AM
Airymouse 17 Jun 14 - 09:11 AM
PHJim 17 Jun 14 - 09:12 AM
GUEST 17 Jun 14 - 09:39 AM
PHJim 17 Jun 14 - 10:33 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 17 Jun 14 - 01:16 PM
Jim Carroll 17 Jun 14 - 02:25 PM
GUEST,Songster Bob 17 Jun 14 - 04:28 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 17 Jun 14 - 05:20 PM
Stilly River Sage 17 Jun 14 - 06:19 PM
GUEST 17 Jun 14 - 06:24 PM
Ole Juul 18 Jun 14 - 02:21 AM
GUEST 18 Jun 14 - 03:46 AM
GUEST,Marianne S. 18 Jun 14 - 04:01 AM
Steve Gardham 18 Jun 14 - 04:03 AM
MGM·Lion 18 Jun 14 - 04:13 AM
GUEST,Andrew 18 Jun 14 - 07:09 AM
GUEST 18 Jun 14 - 07:25 AM
Splott Man 18 Jun 14 - 07:45 AM
GUEST,DonMeixner 18 Jun 14 - 08:02 AM
GUEST,Marianne S. 18 Jun 14 - 08:23 AM
Jack Campin 18 Jun 14 - 08:52 AM
Mark Ross 18 Jun 14 - 12:01 PM
Nigel Parsons 18 Jun 14 - 12:19 PM
PHJim 18 Jun 14 - 12:51 PM
Jack Campin 18 Jun 14 - 02:52 PM
GUEST,Ted 19 Jun 14 - 03:56 AM
Jack Blandiver 19 Jun 14 - 05:02 AM
Steve Gardham 19 Jun 14 - 09:10 AM
meself 19 Jun 14 - 11:01 AM
GUEST 19 Jun 14 - 11:08 AM
Cool Beans 19 Jun 14 - 05:58 PM
Jack Campin 19 Jun 14 - 07:06 PM
Airymouse 19 Jun 14 - 10:38 PM
Ole Juul 20 Jun 14 - 12:42 AM
GUEST 20 Jun 14 - 03:40 AM
Ole Juul 20 Jun 14 - 03:46 AM
Jack Campin 20 Jun 14 - 04:29 AM
Ole Juul 20 Jun 14 - 05:00 AM
Steve Gardham 20 Jun 14 - 03:03 PM
Jack Blandiver 20 Jun 14 - 05:40 PM
GUEST,Bill Gulvin 21 Jun 14 - 12:01 AM
Jack Campin 21 Jun 14 - 04:23 AM
GUEST,Bill Gulvin 21 Jun 14 - 09:28 AM
GUEST 21 Jun 14 - 09:57 AM
GUEST 21 Jun 14 - 10:16 AM
McGrath of Harlow 21 Jun 14 - 11:30 AM
GUEST,Bill Gulvin 21 Jun 14 - 11:37 AM
GUEST 21 Jun 14 - 11:42 AM
Bonzo3legs 21 Jun 14 - 05:40 PM
Thompson 22 Jun 14 - 07:41 AM
Ole Juul 22 Jun 14 - 03:22 PM
Ole Juul 22 Jun 14 - 03:28 PM
Jack Blandiver 23 Jun 14 - 12:51 PM
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Subject: Jews Harp banned?
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Jun 14 - 04:31 PM

In a museum I was told you can not refer to a Jews Harp as a Jews Harp any more. It is a JAW Harp! Are there any Jews here who object to the reference? Alternatively any Jews PROUD of the connection?
Andrew
PS what about the Harpists from Paraguay, Ireland and Wales?


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Subject: RE: Jews Harp banned?
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 16 Jun 14 - 04:42 PM

I know not what museum this was, nor where. But where do
they think they got the authority to announce that "you cannot
refer to a Jews Harp as a Jews Harp any more?"

The museum is surely within its rights to instruct its own
employees in the language that may be used in the museum's
name(though I think that policy is ill-founded, ill-advised),
but if they are speaking to the wider population, whence cometh
their authority? The term "Jews Harp" is of great age, and
is not pejorative by any means.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Jews Harp banned?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 16 Jun 14 - 04:56 PM

Well that's buggered the French horn, the Irish pipes, English and Anglo-German concertinas etc.

Henceforth all English concertinas will be known as 4-straight-row boxes and Anglos will be called 2 or 3 or 4 row curved-row boxes.

Pompous authority gets more and more barking by the second!


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Subject: RE: Jews Harp banned?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 16 Jun 14 - 05:29 PM

The world's leading organization to promote the instrument is the International Jews Harp Guild. They know more names for it than you could imagine, but "jew's harp" is the one they use.

http://www.danmoi.com/phons-bakx-1000-names-of-the-jews-harps.html


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Subject: RE: Jews Harp banned?
From: Gurney
Date: 17 Jun 14 - 12:09 AM

I read the term Jaw Harp in a book published at least 40 years ago, referring to the thing as a stock item for sale, so it isn't new.
If you look online under jaws, jews, or mouth harps, you get the same sites.


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Subject: RE: Jews Harp banned?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 17 Jun 14 - 12:28 AM

I don't think anyone has claimed 'Jaw['s] Harp' as being 'new' as a name for the widespread instrument known also as the 'trump' &c &c &c; nor even that it is used euphemistically to avoid the apparent ref to The Chosen People. It has long gone by many different names. But why should calling it by what is probably the most usual name in English arouse such hostility or resentment anyhow? Is there supposed to be something improper or unmentionable in the very use of the term 'Jew' in any context? or what? And if so, why? I don't play the twangly thing myself; but if I did I should probably call it by the best-known name, at that.

~M~


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Subject: RE: Jews Harp banned?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 17 Jun 14 - 12:35 AM

Perhaps worth copying here the passage about the name from the Wikipedia article on the instrument:

There are many theories for the origin of the name Jew's harp. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, this name appears earliest in Walter Raleigh's Discouerie Guiana in 1596, spelled "Iewes Harp." The "jaw" variant is attested at least as early as 1774[6] and 1809,[7] the "juice" variant appeared only in the late 19th and 20th centuries. It has also been suggested that the name derives from the French "Jeu-trompe" meaning "toy-trumpet".[8]

Theories that the name is a corruption of "jaws" or "jeu" are described by the Oxford English Dictionary as "baseless and inept"; the OED also says that, "More or less satisfactory reasons may be conjectured: e.g. that the instrument was actually made, sold, or imported to England by Jews, or purported to be so; or that it was attributed to them, as a good commercial name, suggesting the trumps and harps mentioned in the Bible


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Subject: RE: Jews Harp banned?
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Jun 14 - 07:15 AM

Political correctness gone mad as usual. Gallic horn anyone?


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Subject: RE: Jews Harp banned?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 17 Jun 14 - 08:20 AM

before launching into a predictable rant about "political correctness" it might be worth finding out what the original incident was. Some anonymous person in a museum with no stated authority saying something unspecifically negative for unknown reasons doesn't add up to a campaign of censorship.


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Subject: RE: Jews Harp banned?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 17 Jun 14 - 08:34 AM

Okay, GUEST number 1, can you enlighten us as to which museum was involved, please?

Of course GUESTS often turn out to be trolls.


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Subject: RE: Jews Harp banned?
From: Airymouse
Date: 17 Jun 14 - 09:11 AM

I had a conversation with Mike Seeger about this issue. He was, by the way, an accomplished Jew's harp player. He said he had always called the instrument a Jew's harp and that he knew that the name was not perjorative. Nonetheless, he had taken to calling it a "trump" (which the OED asserts is still sometimes done in Scotland and norhtern England) because he had been fussed at at some festival for using "Jew's harp." I recommend his way of wriggling out of the problem: "Jaw's harp" is just plain stupid.


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Subject: RE: Jews Harp banned?
From: PHJim
Date: 17 Jun 14 - 09:12 AM

I have never seen the term "mouth harp" refer to the Jew's/jaw harp. When someone speaks of a mouth harp, they usually mean a harmonica. I think I see "Jew's harp" and "jaw harp" about equally.


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Subject: RE: Jews Harp banned?
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Jun 14 - 09:39 AM

Those of us with blue harps (mine being a 35-string Pilgrim) get a bit narked at other more primitive instruments nicking the name.

You might as justifiably call it an indigenous vibrophone.


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Subject: RE: Jews Harp banned?
From: PHJim
Date: 17 Jun 14 - 10:33 AM

A bit before the turn of the century, I was helping to organise the workshops for a now defunct folk festival. Looking over the performers, I decided to have a harp workshop. There were three participants playing Celtic harp, Autoharp and mouth harp (harmonica). It would have been lovely if we'd had a concert harpist and a Jew's harpist as well, but we didn't.


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Subject: RE: Jews Harp banned?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 17 Jun 14 - 01:16 PM

The guest's initial post provided no site or proof of the supposed instruction. Posts of this type should be ignored; usually bogus and trollic.


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Subject: RE: Jews Harp banned?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Jun 14 - 02:25 PM

The name
Worldwide around 1000 different names for the instrument have been noted, and the list is expanding. European languages mainly use mouth and sometimes lips or teeth linked with trump and harp. Trump in various forms and spellings is used today in Europe, such as Mondtrom in Dutch and Tromp in Flemish. Harp is used in Scandinavian countries, such as Norway, Munnharpa, Denmark, Mundharpe and Finland, Huuliharpu. Doromb can be found in Hungary, with Drymba in Ukraine and Drombulja in Serbia. As we go further east we have variations on Komys, Kupus, and Khomus in northern and eastern Asia, while Morchang, Morsing, Dan Moi and Gengong can be found in India, Vietnam and Indonesia. As a general point, in Asia the instrument has a name relating to the material from which it is made, along with animal or insect terms and sounds, whereas in Europe it has more human connections and names of other musical instruments. There is, in addition, the use of more derogatory terms such as lackey, bauble and snore [Bakx 2004].
English is the only language where there is an association with a particular race. We have no idea why it became known as the Jew's harp, only that it remains the earliest name found to date. The instrument has nothing to do with the musical culture of the Jewish race, though the name confuses the issue of where it comes from as there is a natural, but erroneous, belief that the origins are Middle Eastern. The prefix Jew's is used only in English and in a small part of Germany and first definitely identifies the instrument in a document dated 1481 as Jue harpes and Jue trumpes. The significance of this document, a petty customs account, cannot be underestimated, as it not only gives us the early name but a port of origin, Arnemuiden west of Antwerp, and the merchant for whom the consignment was intended, a certain William Codde. It also clearly indicates that the names Jue harpes and Jue trumpes were in common usage in the late 15th century and known to both customs officer and merchant [Wright 2004]. The term Jaws harp is not seen before the mid-eighteenth century. There has been a suggestion that the instrument might originally have been called a trump, from the French Trompe, but clear evidence is lacking. That name, however, is still used today in parts of Ireland and Scotland.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Jews Harp banned?
From: GUEST,Songster Bob
Date: 17 Jun 14 - 04:28 PM

I always liked the Italian name for it -- "scatiata piensieri" (maybe "scaccia pensieri" -- I have enough trouble with English spelling), meaning "toss your thoughts away" or "throw away your mind." The "worry killer" is another way to put it.

Bob Clayton


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Subject: RE: Jews Harp banned?
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 17 Jun 14 - 05:20 PM

Dear GUEST....

You have a wonderful thread flowing...a byte more information could turn it into a classic, archival, historical piece....

WHERE?
WHEN?
Time?
Location?
URL?

Sincerely,
Gargoyle

Began "Jew's Harp" about age 8. Within the first minute of play.... I put a blood blister "pimple" on my tongue. (I was never a cunning linguist)


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Subject: RE: Jews Harp banned?
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 17 Jun 14 - 06:19 PM

That poster has never been here before and hasn't returned. He appeared to be posting from Port Talbot in the UK, if that helps. Perhaps a local museum?

SRS


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Subject: RE: Jews Harp banned?
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Jun 14 - 06:24 PM

Musicologists extrapolate what you like....

I'm 1/4 jew from my Mother's side of the family, but I'm rubbish at playing jew's harp.

I'm too afraid for my front teeth.


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Subject: RE: Jews Harp banned?
From: Ole Juul
Date: 18 Jun 14 - 02:21 AM

It's the "harp" part that offends me.


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Subject: RE: Jews Harp banned?
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Jun 14 - 03:46 AM

The museum was the excellent Swansea 1940s Museum, on 6th June around noon. A visiting storyteller took out a harmonica, demonstrated it and said it was popular with sailors. He then showed us a Jew's harp and asked the children what it was, demonstrated it, said it was a Jew's Harp, but told us you can not call it that any more. It had to be called a Jaw Harp.

I dont know his name but he had a good repartee, and a fair twang too.

I can not prove it happened, dont know what Trolls have to do with it, live just North of Swansea and play Bluegrass.

73
Andrew


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Subject: RE: Jews Harp banned?
From: GUEST,Marianne S.
Date: 18 Jun 14 - 04:01 AM

I'm surprised he didn't quote 'Health and Safety'. Anyway, he's wrong. There's no more reason to avoid 'Jew's Harp' than to avoid French horn, cor anglais, or, for that matter, African drums. That's because the word is not being used negatively. No-one is using the term to say that Jews (or harps!) are inferior.


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Subject: RE: Jews Harp banned?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 18 Jun 14 - 04:03 AM

Thank-you for returning, GUEST!

'Trolls' are anonymous unscrupulous people who set up threads and add postings that are at best scurrilous and intended to provoke argument. Now we know that is not the case we can apologise for making the suggestion. (Though anonymous posters will always come under suspicion for obvious reasons)


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Subject: RE: Jews Harp banned?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 18 Jun 14 - 04:13 AM

Another argument, among the many [eg the impossibility of knowing whether or not 2 posts both just headed "GUEST" are from the same person or two different ones], for returning to the rule that all posters must use a name. May we please return to it? Can't think why it was ever abandoned.

~M~


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Subject: RE: Jews Harp banned?
From: GUEST,Andrew
Date: 18 Jun 14 - 07:09 AM

Ah! I see there is a box in which I can enter my name.

What are the best tunes to play on a Jew's Harp do you think? I recall seeing someone tuning his to D with a pliers and cigarettelighter. Sounded the same as his G harp to me.I have 2.
Andrew


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Subject: RE: Jews Harp banned?
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Jun 14 - 07:25 AM

Health & Safety....???


Can you play them wearing Boxer's gum shields ??????????


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Subject: RE: Jews Harp banned?
From: Splott Man
Date: 18 Jun 14 - 07:45 AM

Guest, Andrew. To my mind (as a player myself), the best tunes to try are those that stay in one key and have a strong modal content.
As you're a Bluegrass player, try Turkey in the Straw, Angelina Baker, and Whiskey Before Breakfast for starters. You may have to jump octaves during the tune!.

By coincidence, the other evening I was searching for a couple of old ones that I had around the house, and I unearthed ten, bringing my total to twelve! It's amazing how they multiply when you're not looking.
Most of these are in piano keys, but I found a nice loud one in G.

Splott Man (near Cardiff)


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Subject: RE: Jews Harp banned?
From: GUEST,DonMeixner
Date: 18 Jun 14 - 08:02 AM

In Central New York State they seem to fall into two categories.The Jews Harp and The Snoopy Harp.   Many may recall Charles Schultz had his character Snoopy play the Jews Harp. A brand of harp came out many years ago as The Snoopy Harp and the brand became the instrument around here among elementary school teachers and folk festival revisionists. I play the Jews harp fairly well. And the best harp I ever played is a Snoopy brand Jews Harp.

Don.


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Subject: RE: Jews Harp banned?
From: GUEST,Marianne S.
Date: 18 Jun 14 - 08:23 AM

Guest at 07.25 a.m. - sarcasm. Everything seems to blamed on Health and Safety in the UK. I have a Jew's Harp which I found in a cupboard in my parents' house. I've never played it. I value my teeth too much. Perhaps a gum shield would work?


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Subject: RE: Jews Harp banned?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 18 Jun 14 - 08:52 AM

Lindsay Porteous was told by his dentist that he'd either have to stop playing the jew's harp or have his front teeth removed.

He chose to have the teeth out.

He has a couple of scacciapensieris of mine which I realized I was never going to play again after seeing the problem.

Basically any tune with lots of arpeggios that you can play with a drone will work on a jew's harp. It takes some doing to make it recognizable, though.


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Subject: RE: Jews Harp banned?
From: Mark Ross
Date: 18 Jun 14 - 12:01 PM

According to some the Jew's Hap was named thus because King David in the Bible played a harp.

Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: Jews Harp banned?
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 18 Jun 14 - 12:19 PM

Snoopy on harp Not by Schultz
From Snoopy cartoon film


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Subject: RE: Jews Harp banned?
From: PHJim
Date: 18 Jun 14 - 12:51 PM

Rick Fielding told me about this site many years ago. I posted as GUEST,Jim for a few years and resisted joining until I realised that I was not the only GUEST,Jim making posts and, rather than being blamed/credited for the other posts from GUEST,Jim(s), I decided that I'd better join up.


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Subject: RE: Jews Harp banned?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 18 Jun 14 - 02:52 PM

According to some the Jew's Harp was named thus because King David in the Bible played a harp.

And similarly bones got into folk music because of the prophet's Abrahambone. And we we wouldn't have singer-songwriters without the original Solo Moan.


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Subject: RE: Jews Harp banned?
From: GUEST,Ted
Date: 19 Jun 14 - 03:56 AM

Andrew wrote:

"A visiting storyteller ... told us you can not call it that any more. It had to be called a Jaw Harp."

Makes me wonder if the storyteller intended it as a throwaway line, to raise a smile rather than as a serious comment?

Ted


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Subject: RE: Jews Harp banned?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 19 Jun 14 - 05:02 AM

The term "Jews Harp" is of great age, and is not pejorative by any means.

Not pejorative? Given the historic context for an instrument whose humble, lowly, inexpensive and ultimately portable ubiquity is its defining feature I'd say pejorative is exactly what it is. Calling such a thing a 'harp' is pure mockery; in the context of anti-Semitic racial stereotyping it is doubly offensive. Similarly 'Witches Trump' carries echoes of persecution and misogyny despite many folklorist attempting to hike the term to the magical qualities of iron (were they played by witches? or carried as a charm against them?)   

The matter needs much sensitivity, and whilst happy with the term Jew's Harp historically I accept the problems which inclines me to favour J-Harp in modern use as the general heading for what is a vast and fascinating topic. I've lately heard Jarp, but I'm not convinced! Just because something is 'historic' and 'traditional' doesn't make it acceptable. As has been pointed out, there are countless types of J-harp, each with their own own colourful name - Jack. C mentions Scacciapensieri, always a favourite with the kids I work with as literally it means 'Thought Scatterer'!

One would hope any J-harping storyteller coming into contact with kids is so equipped as to be able set such issues into context without having to fear the 'Political Correctness Gone Mad' brigade for whom 'folk' will always be a means to culturally autistic outrage. Give me Political Correctness over Folk Correctness any day!


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Subject: RE: Jews Harp banned?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 19 Jun 14 - 09:10 AM

'Just because something is 'historic' and 'traditional' doesn't make it acceptable.'
Absolutely, Jack, but I'm not convinced by your argument in this case.

'Humble, lowly, inexpensive' are not necessarily derogatory terms, and 'portable' is totally irrelevant. Can you prove the use of 'harp' here is mockery?


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Subject: RE: Jews Harp banned?
From: meself
Date: 19 Jun 14 - 11:01 AM

How about 'J-word harp'?


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Subject: RE: Jews Harp banned?
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Jun 14 - 11:08 AM

How about renaming - "Dentist's favourite harp" ?


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Subject: RE: Jews Harp banned?
From: Cool Beans
Date: 19 Jun 14 - 05:58 PM

As a Jew I have no problem with the term "Jew's harp" and thought it funny when I first saw them called "jaw harps" in a music store. If there's anything derogatory here it's calling a simple metal thingy a harp, but at least it requires plucking a metal band like a string. Unlike the mouth harp which is a wind instrument. Now there's a derogatory name that has been embraced by generations of players and thus lost its sting. Anyway, to paraphrase an old (American) advertisement for rye bread: You don't have to be Jewish to play the Jew's harp.


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Subject: RE: Jews Harp banned?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 19 Jun 14 - 07:06 PM

Similarly 'Witches Trump' carries echoes of persecution and misogyny

I suspect it's a product of New Agey Wiccan wishful thinking. The word "trump" first occurs in a description of the storm-raising ritual of the witches of North Berwick in 1592. It isn't mentioned in any sort of negative way: the purpose it was put to was described as evil, but the instrument itself wasn't. It was a trump used by a witch, but not a "witch's trump". The text is here:

http://www.sacred-texts.com/pag/kjd/kjd11.htm

(Sensationalist and paranoid as it is, there's nothing anti-Jewish about it, either).

So, where is the earliest documented usage of "witch's trump"? It's not a phrase I've ever met with.


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Subject: RE: Jews Harp banned?
From: Airymouse
Date: 19 Jun 14 - 10:38 PM

And there's the ukulele named for the fleas on the Portuguese sailors who imported the instrument to Hawaii. At least in Hans Christian Andersen's "The Princess and the pea" it was the princess who couldn't get a good night's sleep. J.B. is like a lady-in-waiting who tosses and turns for fear that her princess will be kept awake.


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Subject: RE: Jews Harp banned?
From: Ole Juul
Date: 20 Jun 14 - 12:42 AM

I think Jack's post is the most insightful in this thread so far.

'Humble, lowly, inexpensive' are not necessarily derogatory terms, and 'portable' is totally irrelevant. Can you prove the use of 'harp' here is mockery?

I don't think it's the "terms" but the implication. The JH is cheap. To those who imagine themselves better than the poor, that is often intended as a putdown. In fact, how often in this day and age haven't you heard someone exclaim "inexpensive, not cheap".

Also, the word harp is a put down. Like calling your old bicycle a limousine. That sort of thing is perhaps funny when the guy who can't afford anything else says it, but when a rich person says if with reference to the poor person, it can have some special tone.

Speaking of tone, has anybody here ever been able to discern any recognizable pitch in a J-Harp? I think perhaps it requires a trained ear to do so.


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Subject: RE: Jews Harp banned?
From: GUEST
Date: 20 Jun 14 - 03:40 AM

There is definitely a pitch to a Jew's Harp. Each spring has its own resonance.

To be an effective player, you must match that resonance using your mouth as a sound chamber. Then play the tune (if that's your intention) in your throat using overtones).

Splott Man


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Subject: RE: Jews Harp banned?
From: Ole Juul
Date: 20 Jun 14 - 03:46 AM

I'm actually quite familiar with them and know how they work. I just don't hear the underlying pitch when people play them. I'm thinking that my idea of pitch is different from theirs.


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Subject: RE: Jews Harp banned?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 20 Jun 14 - 04:29 AM

A nice collection of sound samples of them here:

http://www.mouthmusic.com/Audio/mp3index.htm

His "clackamore" is an interesting idea and a lot more teeth-friendly.


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Subject: RE: Jews Harp banned?
From: Ole Juul
Date: 20 Jun 14 - 05:00 AM

Thanks Jack! I listened to a bunch of those, and must admit that some of them do have nice "pitch". Some don't (not that that's bad) and they're all closely miked so the mouth resonance is more pronounced than in real life. There's some real artistry there though and I feel compelled to go back and listen to the rest of them later.

From an acoustical viewpoint the spring remains the same pitch throughout and the mouth changes resonance. This is much as one would do on an old fashioned synthesizer when running a tone through a VCF (voltage controlled filter), but of course much more rich.

Back to the topic. I remember working in a music store and there was some pressure to drop the "jew" and shift to "jaw". I'll go along with what is socially acceptable as there's no need to make a scene when some people are sensitive - or overly so. That discussion is better had in a place like this. However, I don't think it is a good idea in general. I respect the history, and don't feel we have to carry forward the negative things which in reality are long gone. In short, I don't think we are liberating any Jews by changing the name of this little instrument.


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Subject: RE: Jews Harp banned?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 20 Jun 14 - 03:03 PM

According to Jim and his documentary sources, we do not and cannot know how the name came about. The name is the oldest name in English for the metal instrument we play. Putting a derogatory tag on it is therefore pure conjecture.

I will continue to call it by its oldest and most widespread (Jesus, I nearly typed 'common'!) name until my Jewish relatives tell me they find it offensive.


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Subject: RE: Jews Harp banned?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 20 Jun 14 - 05:40 PM

I like 'Gew-Gaw' too; otherwise I tend to use the specific name for my portable instrumentarium - Doromb, Khomus, Dan Moi, Kou-Xiang (Ho-Ho), Scacciapesieri, Murchanga, Kubing...

I accept Jew's Harp, but recognise its origins lie in aeons old derogatory anti-Semitism rather than this lowly instrument having anything whatsoever to do with Jews. I doubt you'll find any Jews who find the term offensive per se.

*

As for pitch, accurately tuned Jew's Harps are essential. For sessions I have some nice strong Szilagyi Black-Fires in G, D and E; I have others in B, C and F - even a double Murchanga in D & G. That said, my favourite is one of Szilagyi's sub-sonic Tibet models in a very approximate low Ab.


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Subject: RE: Jews Harp banned?
From: GUEST,Bill Gulvin
Date: 21 Jun 14 - 12:01 AM

Oh, where to begin...

For starts, the notion that the term "Jew's harp" is somehow inappropriate seems to stem entirely from an uncomfortable sense that many people seem to have that the word "Jew's" is somehow pejorative. Now, squeamishness concerning the word "Jew" IS offensive, and not just to Jews! The known etymology of the English term "Jew's harp" is well presented above. As there is no certain connection, positive or negative, between the instrument and the Jewish people, there is no reason whatsoever to try to bowdlerize the historical name to some other awkward construction. My best guess, and it's only a guess, is that the term "Jew's harp" may well have arisen from an association with the centuries old tradition of itinerant Jewish pack peddlers who commonly sold the small, portable instrument.

The idea that the Jew's harp is an intrinsically inferior instrument is just wrong! I'm quite certain that that notion has mostly grown out of the fact that many of the cheap "instruments" widely sold in the last half of the 20th century have been out-and-out unplayable junk brand new (including some "Snoopy Harps"...). Historically, the Jew's harp has been a very well respected instrument indeed! It has been present throughout Eurasia since ancient times, and has been found in Norse burial ships, cornerstones in Pompeii, and is very popular with many peoples from the Tuvans to the Innuit to many SE Asian peoples (where their Jew's harps are made from bamboo!). A well-crafted Jew's harp with a tongue of a durable temper was long regarded as a masterpiece of metalworking. In 19th century Europe, there were touring concert soloists performing on the Jew's harp, and Johann Albrechtsberger composed as many as seven (three of which are extant) delightful concerti for Jew's harp and chamber orchestra. At the same time, the Jew's harp was frequently outlawed in Austria as it was regarded as a much too potent instrument of seduction. On the other hand, many of the old Hardanger fiddle tunes survived the religious revivals that destroyed nearly all the fiddles by being played on Jew's harps. And to this day, Norwegians craft what are arguably the finest Jew's harps, the best of which can cost several hundred dollars. In the US, prior to the Civil War and the introduction of the harmonica, the Jew's harp was by far the most common instrument, and one can bet that if there was a third instrument being played in addition to a fiddle and a banjar, it was quite likely a Jew's harp.

So I tend to get a little annoyed with people who, in English, call the instrument something OTHER than a Jew's harp, and I especially dislike "jaw harp" and worst of all "juice harp." I also was one who would gently chide Mike Seeger (who was a frequent and superb performer on the instrument and a remarkable human being altogether!) when he'd use "jaw harp" while perfectly well knowing better. In his last years, Mike typically called it a Jew's harp, at least when I was around...


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Subject: RE: Jews Harp banned?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 21 Jun 14 - 04:23 AM

My best guess, and it's only a guess, is that the term "Jew's harp" may well have arisen from an association with the centuries old tradition of itinerant Jewish pack peddlers who commonly sold the small, portable instrument.

I don't believe there were any such pedlars when the word entered the English language - there were no Jews living openly in Britain between the 13th century and when Cromwell let them back in around 1650.


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Subject: RE: Jews Harp banned?
From: GUEST,Bill Gulvin
Date: 21 Jun 14 - 09:28 AM

I don't believe there were any such pedlars when the word entered the English language - there were no Jews living openly in Britain between the 13th century and when Cromwell let them back in around 1650.

Well, so much for that speculation. As a United Statesian, I haven't that fine grained a familiarity with British history. OTOH, my great aunt, who lived her life on a very rural farm in extreme upstate New York, clearly remembered pack peddlers who sold the instrument from her youth before the turn of the 20th century. But for sure that doesn't put Jewish pack peddlers in 15th century Britain!


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Subject: RE: Jews Harp banned?
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Jun 14 - 09:57 AM

Ok.. "Joozarp".. solved... next....


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Subject: RE: Jews Harp banned?
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Jun 14 - 10:16 AM

or.."Zarp" for short..


gotta love anodyne kiddies 'nonsense' words...


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Subject: RE: Jews Harp banned?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 21 Jun 14 - 11:30 AM

What on earth is "pejorative about" the suggestion that something is "humble, lowly, inexpensive and ultimately portable"? That sounds like a list of things to admire in a folk context.

Would "arrogant, haughty, expensive and unwieldy" be seem as characteristics we should see as admirable?


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Subject: RE: Jews Harp banned?
From: GUEST,Bill Gulvin
Date: 21 Jun 14 - 11:37 AM

Would "arrogant, haughty, expensive and unwieldy" be seem as characteristics we should see as admirable?

Ha! Think pipe organ. But then, I enjoy the pipe organ well played as much as the Jew's harp. More, maybe...


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Subject: RE: Jews Harp banned?
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Jun 14 - 11:42 AM

"Would "arrogant, haughty, expensive and unwieldy" be seem as characteristics we should see as admirable?"

errrmm.. well, at least 2 of those words put me in mind of folkies bragging about their custom made luthier guitars....


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Subject: RE: Jews Harp banned?
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 21 Jun 14 - 05:40 PM

It's a Jews Harp - end of.


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Subject: RE: Jews Harp banned?
From: Thompson
Date: 22 Jun 14 - 07:41 AM

This kind of oversensitivity is everywhere, especially among academics (the lunatic fringe of language), who have re-christened, sorry, rebaptised, sorry, renamed BC and AD as BCE and CE to avoid any reference to Christianity that might offend someone.


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Subject: RE: Jews Harp banned?
From: Ole Juul
Date: 22 Jun 14 - 03:22 PM

"This kind of oversensitivity is everywhere, . . . "

I guess there's some wildly differing views on what constitutes "academic" pursuit. The way I see it, the accumulation of knowledge and its communication across generations does not mandate any specific political agenda. Indeed, a couple of the posts in this thread are quite academic and would support a notion of an apolitical approach to portraying the history of the jew's harp. Here is an academic dissertation which also supports the use of "jew's harp" as correct.
HISTORY OF THE JEW'S HARP


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Subject: RE: Jews Harp banned?
From: Ole Juul
Date: 22 Jun 14 - 03:28 PM

In case somebody doesn't read the above link, here is an excellent excerpt:

Jaw harp is a 20th century creation. It was first suggested as an origin of Jew's harp as pure conjecture - there is no evidence of that name ever being used in common parlance before then. From that point, several different music historians indulged in sloppier and sloppier research, until jaw harp as an origin progressed from baseless conjecture to absolute "truth".

Jaw harp, then, is not an invented term intended to be politically correct, but is rather a misnomer brought to life by bad scholarship. In its favor, jaw harp is a misnomer of a misnomer - a quirky name for a somewhat quirky instrument.


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Subject: RE: Jews Harp banned?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 23 Jun 14 - 12:51 PM

teeth-friendly

The brass Dan Moi types don't require any dental contact, and are in general richer in harmonics. Available precision tuned and costing relative peanuts given their quality, what they lack in volume & brute force (useless in sessions) they make up for in resonant beauty. Mind your wiskers though!

See here for Dan Mois and other 'lip' types, including some fine ones down the lower end (that Triple Leaf Sturdy model is a favourite of mine):

http://www.danmoi.com/jews-harps-jawharps-guimbardes/single-jews-harps.html?dan_jewsharp_type=85


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