Harp parts

The harp is one of the oldest musical instruments. It already appears in engravings from the city of Thebes that date back to the 18th century BC. Later there was a portable version that was widely used by minstrels of the European Middle Ages and, over time, increases in size until one of its sides takes on the role of a soundboard.


Already in the 15th century after Christ, harps with more strings than the old ones appeared, reaching up to 25 strings; and in the seventeenth century there is already evidence of chromatic harps with 58 strings. At the end of the same century, a hook system also appeared that allowed semitones to be achieved.

The modern harp, with a double movement system and a fork system, begins to be prefigured in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, where it already has the resonant frame, the strings tensioned in the upper and lower sections and the possibility of being plucked with fingers, picks or plectrums.


  • 1What are the parts of the harp?
    • 1Structure
    • 2Strings
    • 3Pedals
    • 4Keys

What are the parts of the harp?


Harp Structure

The harp has a triangular structure with three distinct parts:

  • The soundboard: It is the part of the harp that is in contact with the body of the harpist. It is hollow and can be made up of several assembled pieces of wood or it can be excavated in a single piece. Its upper part, called the lid or soundboard , is crossed by the strings. Its function is, logically, to amplify the sound of the strings.
  • The console:  It is the upper part of the harp that contains the pegs, which acts as a tailpiece.
  • The column:  It is the piece that closes the triangle of the harp and whose function is to keep the distance of the strings fixed, supporting the tension that they generate when they are tuned. In the classical harps, in addition, the column carries inside the cables of the pedal mechanism that allow the tuning of each string to be altered.


Most modern harps have 47 strings of different materials and registers:


  • Medium and high register:  They are 35 strings built from animal guts.
  • Low register:  They are copper and wound with steel.

In order for the harpist to be able to differentiate them better, the harp strings have different colors. For example, those that correspond to the note C are red; while those that answer the Fa are white. Depending on which section of the string the performer strikes, different sound qualities will be obtained.


Harp Pedals

At the base of the instrument are the seven pedals (one for each natural note) that allow you to obtain the sharps and flats of each note. Each of these pedals has three positions:

The intermediate, which maintains the natural pitch of the note, while the other two positions raise or lower a semitone to all the strings of a note, in different octaves.


The semitonales keys are typical of the Celtic harp and are in the console, which allows up a semitone to a specific string.


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