Naming the Strings on the Harp
This post will introduce the note names of the strings on the harp. It will explain high and low notes, the musical notes used, colored strings, and types of material used for strings.
Why are the strings colored?
Most harps used today have different colored strings. There are three primary colors used: Red, White and Black (or sometimes Blue). These colors act as a road map, helping us visually locate a specific string on the harp much quicker than if all the strings were the same color.
High and low notes
Music consists of pitches, some higher, some lower. When we are looking at the harp, we can identify the higher pitches because the strings are shorter. The shorter the string, the higher the pitch. Vise-versa, the longer the string, the lower the pitch.
Material of the strings
Harps may use up to three kinds of strings on one harp alone. The higher pitched notes (shorter strings) are typically made of nylon. The notes in the middle range of the harp are typically made of gut, more specifically, cow gut. The very lowest strings on the harp (the longest strings) are typically made of wire. These three kinds of materials will give us the unique sound we hear when we pluck the strings.
Note names in written music
When learning how to play and read music, it is important to know that only the first 7 letters of the Alphabet are used: A-B-C-D-E-F-G, then we start over again at A.
Note Names of the strings on the harp
When sitting behind the harp, let’s first find a red string. The RED strings are C’s and the BLACK (or BLUE) strings are F’s. Starting on a RED string, or C, let’s work our way up the harp (meaning towards you, or towards the shorter strings). First we have C, then next up is D, followed by E, then we have our BLACK (or BLUE) string which is F, then next is G. At this point remember we start over at the beginning of the alphabet, so the next string above G is A, followed by B. At t his point you should be back to another RED string, or C.