Friday, November 06, 2009


I have always dreamed of playing a musical instrument. Any musical instrument. But my day-dreams always zero-in on a harp. Yes, a harp - that contraption attributed to angels mounted on clouds floating endlessly above our heads. Silly you say? Methinks it takes a real man to be seen playing a harp considering the rarity of finding man and harp playing beautiful music together.

The harp is the national symbol of Ireland. Its romantic charms were first enjoyed by the Celts in the 7th Century A.D. The remains of several Celtic harps have been unearthed from the buried ship Sutton Hoo near Suffolk, England. The harp's mesmerizing sound did much to spread its popularity. One Celtic legend proclaimed that there were but three things necessary for a happy home - a virtuous wife, a chair cushion, and a harp.

Some harps were found in an archaeological dig at Ur in Sumer, dating its origins to some 3,000 B.C. The Ur harps, whose shapes are thought to have been formed to copy a hunter's bow, were curved instruments with 12 to 15 strings that apparently did not sound at all different from the later Celtic versions. And, for reasons yet to be satisfactorily explained, the harp seems to have been exclusively played by women. Still today, most harps can be found as orchestral instruments, played mostly by women.

I think my next musical instrument day-dream will be centered on a nose flute. It could at least help clear my sinus.

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