Harpsichord vs. Harp

By Jaxson

Main Difference

The main difference between Harpsichord and Harp is that the Harpsichord is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard and Harp is a class of musical instruments.

  • Harpsichord

    A harpsichord is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard which activates a row of levers that in turn trigger a mechanism that plucks one or more strings with a small plectrum.

    The term denotes the whole family of similar plucked-keyboard instruments, including the smaller virginals, muselar, and spinet. The harpsichord was widely used in Renaissance and Baroque music. During the late 18th century, with the rise of the piano, it gradually disappeared from the musical scene. In the 20th century, it made a resurgence, being used in historically informed performances of older music, in new compositions, and in certain styles of popular music.

  • Harp

    The harp is a stringed musical instrument that has a number of individual strings running at an angle to its soundboard; the strings are plucked with the fingers. Harps have been known since antiquity in Asia, Africa and Europe, dating back at least as early as 3500 BC. The instrument had great popularity in Europe during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, where it evolved into a wide range of variants with new technologies, and was disseminated to Europe’s colonies, finding particular popularity in Latin America. Although some ancient members of the harp family died out in the Near East and South Asia, descendants of early harps are still played in Myanmar and parts of Africa, and other defunct variants in Europe and Asia have been utilized by musicians in the modern era.

    Harps vary globally in many ways. In terms of size, many smaller harps can be played on the lap, whereas larger harps are quite heavy and rest on the floor. Different harps may use strings of catgut, nylon, metal, or some combination. While all harps have a neck, resonator, and strings, frame harps have a pillar at their long end to support the strings, while open harps, such as arch harps and bow harps, do not. Modern harps also vary in techniques used to extend the range and chromaticism (e.g., adding sharps and flats) of the strings, such as adjusting a string’s note mid-performance with levers or pedals which modify the pitch. The pedal harp is a standard instrument in the orchestra of the Romantic music era (ca. 1800–1910) and the contemporary music era.

  • Harpsichord (noun)

    A musical instrument with a keyboard that produces sound through a mechanical process. When the performer presses a key, a corresponding plectrum plucks a tuned string. The harpsichord originated in late medieval Europe and is one of the most important instruments used to perform Baroque music.

  • Harp (noun)

    A musical instrument consisting of a body and a curved neck, strung with strings of varying length that are stroked or plucked with the fingers and are vertical to the soundboard when viewed from the end of the body

  • Harp (noun)

    A harmonica.

  • Harp (noun)

    A grain sieve.

  • Harp (noun)

    A heraldic representation of the musical instrument used as a charge, as in the arms of Ireland.

  • Harp (verb)

    To repeatedly mention a subject.

    “ux|en|Why do you harp on a single small mistake? (US)”

    “ux|en|Why do you harp on about a single small mistake? (UK)”

  • Harp (verb)

    To play on a harp or similar instrument

  • Harp (verb)

    To play (a tune) on the harp.

  • Harp (verb)

    To develop or give expression to by skill and art; to sound forth as from a harp; to hit upon.

  • Harpsichord (noun)

    a keyboard instrument with horizontal strings which run perpendicular to the keyboard in a long tapering case, and are plucked by points of quill, leather, or plastic operated by depressing the keys. It is used chiefly in European classical music of the 16th to 18th centuries.

  • Harp (noun)

    a musical instrument consisting of a frame supporting a graduated series of parallel strings, played by plucking with the fingers. The modern orchestral harp has an upright frame, with pedals which enable the strings to be retuned to different keys.

  • Harp (noun)

    another term for harmonica

    “Papa had been teaching him to play the blues harp”

  • Harp (noun)

    a marine mollusc which has a large vertically ribbed shell with a wide aperture, found chiefly in the Indo-Pacific.

  • Harp (verb)

    talk or write persistently and tediously on (a particular topic)

    “I don’t want to harp on about the past”

    “you need to stop harping on her age”

  • Harp (verb)

    play on a harp

    “among them harped the divine minstrel Demodocus”

Oxford Dictionary

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