The Harp: An Irish Icon
The harp is one of the oldest surviving stringed instruments dating back thousands of years. Though its specific origin is unclear, the instrument appeared in the artwork of Ireland in the early medieval period, justifying some history from the country. Similarly, people related the instrument to other countries like Scotland and other parts of Northwestern Europe. The harp has been used as an icon in the country’s history. For instance, it was stamped on the country’s schilling (Yoakam, 2009). In addition, it was a metaphor to signify the religious aspects of the instrument.
The harping tradition of the Irish was an aristocratic art music that guided the arrangement and compositional structure. Corolan, one of the latest composers widely known in the history of the harping tradition, was influenced by the Italian Baroque art music of different composers. (Heymann & Heymann, 2003). The harp faced several problems in history, including the demise of the tradition up to the eighteenth century. The tunes that had arisen from the harping tradition only survived as unharmonized melodies which were used in folkloric tradition. Others were only preserved as notated collections.
Language has been used to embody and add information to the cultural memories in different ways. Similarly, music brings out the same effect on the cultural memories of people. The cultural form of music is similar to a memory container as it transmits memory of a composition. The Irish have a strong association of traditional symbols with music that is visible in their icon of the harp as Ireland (Frawley, 2012).
The historical performance of the Gaelic harp in Ireland is widely documented in the use of brass strings that are tuned diatonically using the strings and sounded with specialized fingernails. The early Irish harping tradition was mainly an aristocratic one where the musicians were highly skilled and received a great deal of respect. The...