Wire-strung harp

Greg Lindahl gl8f at fermi.clas.virginia.edu
Wed Oct 11 08:00:33 PDT 1995

On Oct 10, 20:02, Dave & Laura McKinstry wrote:

> Harps were played on the left shoulder in the middle ages and Renaissance,
> and the right hand was used to play the lower notes, while the left hand
> played the upper ones.  This was connected to the belief that the right side
> of the body was male, and the left side female.

My lady has found paintings showing recorders being played either way,
while they are only played with the left hand on top and the right
hand on the bottom from the Baroque era on. Painters that weren't
musicians might paint things backwards and not realize that they'd
made a mistake (many paintings of instruments seem to have a bit of
artistic license applied), but you can get additional evidence by
looking at where the holes are on the bottom of a recorder --
"renaissance" recorders are symmetrical at the bottom, but Baroque
recorders are clearly designed to have the right hand on the bottom.

So the question of "how was a harp played" might be more complicated
than you think. You did give a nice list of references to pursue the

> Medieval/Renaissance music didn't
> have accidentals,

While few accidentals were written into the music, there's still
musica ficta to consider.

Gregory Blount

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