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date: 07 December 2019


The Oxford Dictionary of Music
Joyce KennedyJoyce Kennedy, Michael KennedyMichael Kennedy, Tim Rutherford-JohnsonTim Rutherford-Johnson

String instrument, of very ancient lineage. Can be simply defined as an open frame over which is stretched a graduated series of str, set in vibration by plucking with the fingers. In the modern orch hp the series is not normally chromatic, as it is in the pf, having merely 7 different notes with the octave, these being in the major scale of B (treated for convenience as that of C♭). There are 7 pedals, each affecting one note of this foundational scale; each pedal works to 2 notches, and by depressing it to its first or 2nd notch, respectively, the vibrating lengths of all the relevant strings are simultaneously shortened by fractions representing a semitone and a tone: thus all keys become possible, and by depressing all the pedals together the pitch of the complete instr can be raised from C♭ (the normal key) to C♮ or C♯. The usual compass is 5½ octaves from C. Chords are often played in more or less rapid succession of their notes, in the form understood by the word ... ...

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