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Carolan's Harp

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harp players (3) 31 Dec 98 - 02:15 AM
katlaughing 31 Dec 98 - 10:43 AM
Helen 01 Jan 99 - 10:25 PM
Helen 01 Jan 99 - 10:28 PM 01 Jan 99 - 11:03 PM
Helen 04 Jan 99 - 05:57 AM
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Subject: Carolan's Harp
Date: 31 Dec 98 - 02:15 AM

Most collections of music by Turlough O'Carolan show a picture of him holding a small harp to his chest and one hand brushing along the strings--a similar posture to what some autoharp players adopt.

It is not shaped like what I think of as a Celtic Harp. Does anyone know what kind it would be? What kind of material the strings are made of? Is it diatonic? (It looks to simple to have levers or any mechanism to change the key.)

They don't shown enough of him to tell. Would he be standing, or is he sitting with the instrument on his lap?


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Subject: RE: Carolan's Harp
From: katlaughing
Date: 31 Dec 98 - 10:43 AM

I don't have the address handy, but at one time when I was "surfing" the net, I typed in a search of Carolan's name and came to a great site which I think would have the information you are seeking. I believe I was in Yahoo; if not, then it was Dogpile. Hope it helps, sorry I don't have the address anymore. Kat

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Subject: RE: Carolan's Harp
From: Helen
Date: 01 Jan 99 - 10:25 PM

Hi Murray & Kat,

The first site I would look at for info on Carolan is Lesley's wonderful Carolan page. Also check out her other pages for some great tunes.

As far as I know Carolan played a lap harp, and also maybe a larger one, both Celtic harps and not pedal harps.

I can check this in a book I have. I don't think that the harps around that time had levers, but I might be wrong about that. The pictures I have seen of Carolan show him playing the harp in the normal way, not like an autoharp. He may simply have been portrayed that way to show the harp clearly from a front-on angle, or, depending on when the picture was painted/drawn, or how much knowledge the artist had of harps, the harp may be misrepresented in its shape or the way it was played.

There is a well-known (among harp people) painting of Carolan which shows him playing a harp in the normal way, and if I can find the copy of it on the net which I saw a few months ago I will post the site address here.


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Subject: RE: Carolan's Harp
From: Helen
Date: 01 Jan 99 - 10:28 PM

The portrait of Carolan is on the same site as the one I mentioned.


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Subject: RE: Carolan's Harp
Date: 01 Jan 99 - 11:03 PM

Thanks for the reference, Helen. I had a look at the portrait and bookmarked the site for further reading. The portrait is the same one that I have seen except it is clearer. He seems to be holding the harp across his body. I thought they were held perpendicular to the body like the modern harps that stand on the floor are.


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Subject: RE: Carolan's Harp
From: Helen
Date: 04 Jan 99 - 05:57 AM

Murray, the way I interpret that picture - although it is unclear - is that the harp is held prependicular to his body but the angle of the artist's view is from the side so it looks like it is held against his body. When you look at his forearm, & hand touching the harp strings, it is held straight out in front.

I'm open to other opinions but it looks to me like the usual harper's position.


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