Instruments | Double Harp | Renaissance | Classical
During the sixteenth century the harp was in danger of falling into disuse as chromatic keyboards raised composers’ expectations of what plucked strings could achieve. But in the third quarter of the century, instrument-builders began to experiment with the double harp, constructed with a second row of strings running next to the first. Arrangements of strings varied as makers attempted to discover how to distribute them between the two rows in a way that would best suit fluent playing (an interesting parallel could be drawn with the modern QWERTY keyboard). The double harp (and its further extension, the triple harp) were superseded by later developments in harp-making. It survived longest in Wales, where it was a folk and gypsy instrument until revived in the nineteenth century under the influence of Lady Llanover, who encouraged makers and players to settle on her estate; it continues to be played there.
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