History of the Harp
The Pedal or Concert Harp
This is the large harp seen playing with orchestras, in formal recitals and in jazz ensembles. It has a system of seven foot-operated pedals which allows the harp to change keys or pitches rapidly. It is very impressive in both size and appearance and is capable of more volume than most stringed instruments. It is very expensive to own, cumbersome to move and difficult to play well. Today's concert pedal harps have 44 to 47 strings and encompass over six octaves.
The Lever or Folk Harp
This smaller, less imposing harp, is ideally suited for use in museums, boutiques, floral gardens and a variety of historical settings. It employs a system of hand-operated levers on the strings to change individual pitches; therefore, it is best suited for performing simple, diatonic music. Persons who play this harp are called "harpers" rather than "harpists." The range of a lever harp varies from 3-5 octaves, depending on the model and size.
Types of Harps Used by the PerformerThere are many different types of harps available today. Darhon Rees-Rohrbacher owns the following instruments,
and chooses the harp to suit the demands of the occasion:
(1) The two-tone harp (far left) is used for orchestra, recital work, cathedral weddings and large banquets where a striking visual appearance is desired and greater volume of sound. (Venus "Protege" model with extended soundboard)
(2) The natural maple harp (second from left) is used for most weddings and chapel functions where a traditional, elegant, and understated appearance is desired. (Venus custom "Protege" model with straight soundboard)
(3) The medium lever harp (far right) is used for outdoor weddings, garden events and Celtic ensembles where portability is desired, but some volume is needed. (Rick Rubarth "Merlin" model)