Frame Harp, Greece, 400 CE

by Meredith Walsh, '00


The frame harp of the fourth and fifth centuries had an arched sound box and a post for support on the open ends and was played resting on the left knee while the player was seated. It was designed having between nine and eleven strings and so that the left hand stroked the farther, longer strings while the right plucked the closer, shorter ones. Decoration varied widely: a harp might be covered with ornate drawings of animals or it might be plain and almost bare. Since the harps were of wood, all that remains of them are drawings on ancient Greek vases. From these we can tell that the kollopes, or tuning pegs, were usually located either on the base of the harp, sometimes with an extra base to prevent interference with the lap while playing, or on the neck.

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