American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- n. Music An instrument having an upright triangular frame consisting of a pillar, a curved neck, and a hollow back containing the sounding board, with usually 46 or 47 strings of graded lengths that are played by plucking with the fingers.
- n. Music Any of various ancient and modern instruments of similar construction.
- n. Informal Music A harmonica.
- n. Something, such as a pair of vertical supports for a lampshade, that resembles a harp.
- v. To play a harp.
- harp on To talk or write about to an excessive and tedious degree; dwell on.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. A musical instrument with strings which are played by being plucked with the fingers. The modern orchestral harp consists of a wooden frame somewhat triangular in shape, on which are strung nearly fifty strings of varying length. The frame comprises the pedestal, supporting the whole and containing the pedals; the large hollow back, with the soundboard, in which are inserted the lower ends of the strings; the neck, with the wrestpins to which the upper ends of the strings are attached, and bearing the mechanism operated by the pedals; and the pillar, supporting the outer end of the neck, and containing the pedal-rods. The strings are of catgut, colored so as to be readily distinguished from each other; the lowest eight are wound with light wire. They are tuned diatonically in the scale of C♭, beginning two octaves below middle C, and extending upward about six and a half octaves. The pedal-action is so contrived that a slight movement raises the pitch of all the strings of the same letter-name a semitone; while a greater movement shortens them two semitones. Seven pedals are used, one for each tone of the scale, all of which may be held by notches in either position, so that the entire instrument may be tuned in C♭, C♮, or C♮, or in any desired combination of sharps and flats. Thus music in any key is possible, with somewhat extreme modulations. The modern harp has been evolved from types found among the Egyptians, Assyrians, Hebrews, and various Celtic nations. All antique varieties are deficient in compass, in precision of pitch, and in sonority. Most of the Oriental forms lack that important part of the frame, the pillar. The medieval harps could be played only in one key, with such slight chromatic alterations as could be effected by stopping a string with the finger. Chromatic tuning has been unsuccessfully attempted. Pedals for making chromatic changes were introduced early in the eighteenth century. Single-action harps are those in which each pedal produces only one such change; double-action, those in which each pedal may be used to produce two such changes. The modern double-action harp was perfected in 1810 by Sebastian Erard. A double harp is one with two sets or rows of strings, differently tuned; a triple harp, one with three such sets or rows. The technique of the harp is notable, because the fingering remains the same in all keys; while its mechanism is exactly modeled on the principles of the staff-notation. The harp is capable of very beautiful and varied music within certain limits of power and quality. Although solid chords are feasible, more characteristic effects are produced by playing the tones of the harmony in rapid succession (see
arpeggio). Such effects are much employed in modern orchestration. Harmonic tones (which see, under harmonic) are also much used.
- n. [capitalized] A constellation, otherwise called Lyra or the Lyre.
- n. Same as harper, 2.
- n. An oblong implement, consisting of a frame filled up with parallel wires resembling the strings of a harp, used as a screen; a grain-sieve.
- n. A sparred shovel for filling coal.
- n. In a seutching-machine, a grating through which the refuse falls as the revolving beater drives the fibers forward.
- n. A figure, likened to a harp or saddle, on the back of the adult harp-seal.
- n. Hence The harp-seal, or harper.
- To play on the harp; play as on a harp.
- To speak often of something, especially so often as to be tiresome or vexing; speak with reiteration; especially, to speak or write with monotonous repetition: usually with on or upon.
- To give forth as a harp gives forth sound; give expression to, or utter.
- To produce some specified effect upon by playing on the harp.
- To sift or separate by means of a harp or screen: as, to harp grain; to harp sand. See harp, n., 4 and 5.
- n. A musical instrument consisting of an upright frame strung with strings that are stroked or plucked with the fingers.
- n. colloquial A harmonica.
- v. To repeatedly mention a subject.
- v. transitive To play on (a harp or similar instrument).
- v. transitive To play (a tune) on the harp.
- v. transitive To develop or give expression to by skill and art; to sound forth as from a harp; to hit upon.
GNU Webster's 1913
- n. A musical instrument consisting of a triangular frame furnished with strings and sometimes with pedals, held upright, and played with the fingers.
- n. (Astron.) A constellation;
Lyra, or the Lyre.
- n. Scot. A grain sieve.
- v. To play on the harp.
- v. To dwell on or recur to a subject tediously or monotonously in speaking or in writing; to refer to something repeatedly or continually; -- usually with
- v. To play on, as a harp; to play (a tune) on the harp; to develop or give expression to by skill and art; to sound forth as from a harp; to hit upon.
- n. a chordophone that has a triangular frame consisting of a sounding board and a pillar and a curved neck; the strings stretched between the neck and the soundbox are plucked with the fingers
- v. come back to
- n. a pair of curved vertical supports for a lampshade
- v. play the harp
- n. a small rectangular free-reed instrument having a row of free reeds set back in air holes and played by blowing into the desired hole
- From Old English hearpe, from Proto-Germanic *harpōn. Cognate with Dutch harp, German Harfe, Swedish harpa. (Wiktionary)
- Middle English, from Old English hearpe and from Old French harpe, of Germanic origin. (American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
“So, perhaps a harp is the best instrument for a bone musician.”
“Do you have any idea how complicated the harp is to play?”
“The harp is like the unicorn of musical instruments.”
“I think the harp is totally awesome, and Harpo was my favorite Marx brother by far, and Christmas is about the only time of year I'll let my guard down to admit any of this in public, and by the way shut up.”
“The harp is a lovely instrument to look at as well as to listen to.”
“I like your choice of picture .... though uncomfortable, a "living harp" is always a beautiful picture.”
“Long-time harper Cheryl and the back part of her O'Loughlin harp:”
“One suspects that this unique globetrotter with his harp is closely related to the author himself, who has given him many ideas about life and death, and about the close relation between the present and eternity - the precious fruits of experiences gathered from the lands and seas of the globe.”
“The harp is the instrument of "the intimate life of the individual.”
“Swallowing resentment all night had made his voice husky; and it was bitter indeed to sit still and hear himself called a harp and a mick.”
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