Cynthia Cathcart introduces newcomers to the wire-strung harp, or clarsach (also sometimes called the early Gaelic harp).
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Hello! My name is Cynthia Cathcart, and I am a teacher, recording artist, performer, and author about the wire-strung harp, and I am here today to introduce you to this really fine instrument. The defining characteristic of this instrument is probably the fact that it is strung with wire strings, literally strings of metal. These are available from specialty music shops. I use brass. I also use silver. You can use gold, and some people use bronze. Sometimes its helpful to know what an instrument is or something is by looking it what it is not. I want to very briefly show you a harp that is a little more common. This is a nylon-strung harp or gut-strung. The strings are made of a different substance than wire. You also see these mechanisms here; these are levers, very rare on a wire-strung harp. Let me just play a little piece on this for you so you can hear the contrast between what this harps sounds like and what the wire-strung harp sounds like. [Demonstration] I don’t play the nylon-strung harp professionally; its a different technique okay. Let me play a little bit of that same tune with a bigger wire-strung harp. They come in different sizes. [Demonstration] Wire-strung harps tend to be a little smaller than the gut or nylon harp. The strings don’t need to be as long to get the same pitch because they are denser. So, they tend to be a little smaller. They tend to be harps that you hold on your lap.