Explorer and Independent Biologist

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

The Triple Harp Mission

The Triple Harp is the classical Welsh harp. It is characterised by having three rows of strings (rather than one), the third row (set between the two outside rows) is tuned to the semi-tones, eliminating the need for keys or pedals. It is notoriously difficult to play. My younger son Carwyn has played the small Celtic harp (or "knee-harp") for years and has long set his sights on extending his repertoire with a triple harp. The mission was to meet him in Wales to collect such a harp which had just been restored.

 I wake to a fine dawn at high tide on the Welsh coast

The rendez-vous is  John Thomas' harp restoration workshop

Carwyn meets his new Triple Harp, 
a fine pedigree instrument, some 150 years old
Three rows of strings with accordingly three rows of tuning pins

Tuning so many strings takes some time...

 ...before I witness the first melody to issue from this harp in a great many years

World Premiere: Carwyn performs at his first 'gig' on his new harp 
the very same evening!

My visit occurred about the time of granddaughter Heledd's third birthday. 
What is in a the parcel?

 Heledd is very impressed with her new Jack-in- the-box!


  1. Brilliant Carwyn. That will take a lot of lugging about for your busking!

  2. Wow...very cool. I have incredible respect for anyone with the cojones to tackle the triple harp!

  3. my aunt is a harpist. She has some nice ones too!

  4. There a woman in my church who on occasion plays her harp. Such a inspiring instrument. Thanks for posting this.
    Your son's name is a first for me. Carwyn. How do you pronounce his name? Is it a popular name?

  5. Thanks everyone.
    Don, it's pronounced more or less as written, with the 'r' rolled on the tip of the toungue. It is not too rare in Wales and roughly means 'Lover of purity'.

  6. Thanks. My daughter just gave birth to son, and I actually dropped your son's name as a possibility, since they haven't picked a name as yet.
    Her last name is Shive, and her husband likes the name Clive.
    Thanks again.

  7. I would love to hear him play the harp one day. My neighbour's daughter plays the harp too, and I have yet to hear her.

    Isn't your granddaughter a cutie, I imagine she is the apple of your eye.

  8. Lovely. So cute, the pictures of Heledd. And Carwyn's harp: magnificent.

  9. Yes. I already had seen this. Wow. So many strings! I love the Celtic sound, better than the common harp played today, though I love any harp, actually. Period instruments are interesting, and I love to hear music from them. At any rate I look forward to hearing more of Carwyn's music in the future.