The making of harps.
|Historic area of significance||UK|
|Area currently practised||UK|
|Origin in the UK||Early Medieval|
|Current no. of professionals (main income)||21-50|
|Current no. of professionals (sideline to main income)
|Current no. of trainees||1-5|
|Current total no. serious amateur makers
|Current total no. of leisure makers
|Minimum no. of craftspeople required|
The harp is one of the oldest musical instruments in the world, dating back to at least 2500 BCE. The earliest harps, found in Ancient Egypt, were bow-shaped or angular with only a few strings. The frame harp, with a straight forepillar, developed in western Europe in the eight century with ten to twelve strings. In the fourteenth century, harps with a curved forepillar, a hollowed soundbox, and 30-36 bass strings developed in Ireland; while in continental Europe the ‘Renaissance harp’ with a thinner and less curved forepillar with 24 or more strings developed. As the harp evolved, the material used for the strings changed from hair or plant fibre, to gut, to stiffer materials such as copper and brass.
Harps continued to develop in style across Europe from the seventeenth century onwards, from double-strung, triple-strung and cross-strung harps, to the single-action pedal and finally the double-action pedal harp, which was patented in 1810 and is still in use today.
Issues affecting the viability of the craft
Finding suitable younger people who have the dedication to learn the craft
The cost of training
Competition from cheap imports, and mass producers
Just staying viable enough to carry on the craft
Craftspeople currently known
- Ardival Harps
- Clive Morley Harps Ltd
- Tim Hampson
- Steffan Jones Harps
- Jonathan Letcher, Silver Spear Harps
- Mark Norris
- George Stevens
- Teifi Harps
- Alun Thomas
Crafts businesses that employ two or more makers:
As of December 2018, Pilgrim Harps are looking to recruit an apprentice harp maker at their workshop in Surrey.