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[North American Musical Instruments] Autoharp: Folk Instruments

Instrument
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The autoharp is a folk instrument said to have originated in North America in modern times. But it is said that it was invented in Germany. Many people might associate the autoharp with a harp from its name, but it is not. If anything, the autoharp will be an instrument that belongs to the zither. Even people without musical background will be able to play immediately.

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place

The autoharp is said to have been built by German immigrants.

Autoharp history

The origin of the autoharp is said to be at the end of the 19th century. A German immigrant living in Philadelphia, USA at the time, patented the instrument design for the autoharp. This is believed to be the origin. He named his invention the “autoharp”. Autoharps at the time had a mechanism for muting the sound of a specific string during a performance. This instrument was later patented in England around 1884. Then the Autoharp trademark was registered in 1926. After this, the instrument became popular in the United States and was used in elementary school music classes. In modern times, it becomes an instrument used in country music. It is one of the instruments known to those who know American folk music. This instrument has been electronicized, and in the 20th century, a synthesizer version and an electric autoharp appeared. It appears on Rocky Erickson and the Aliens’ 1979 hard rock album, The Evil One.

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Characteristics of autoharp

Autoharps are mostly made of wood and are shaped like a trapezoid with one corner of a rectangle cut off. The fuselage has a frame and a pin block for hitting tuning pins. Above the strings is a cord bar made of metal, with springs positioned at each end of the cord bar. The back of the instrument has three rubber “feet”. The strings pass under the chord bar and often consist of 36 strings. In modern times, 48-string models are also appearing and diversifying. The range can be adjusted by the number of strings and tuning. You can adjust the octave by tuning method.

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autoharp song

The autoharp is known as a representative instrument of American folk instruments. In North America, it is often used in folk songs and country music. In the past, there were only analog autoharps, but in the latter half of the 20th century, electric autoharps and synthesizer autoharps appeared.

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