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1416Re: : Who uses sister strings (na comhluighe) in tuning their harp and..

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  • Joe Ennis
    Feb 6, 2015

      I pretty much agree with you.  Also, I agree with Ann Hymann view that the first Irish wire strung Harps were strung in gold wire and they remained this way until the Christian Monasteries vastly reduced the gold supply in Ireland.  Giroldus, writing at the time of the Norman Invasion of Ireland wrote that the Irish Harps were strung with fine gold.  Being strung with gold wire affected how Harps were designed, the difference between High Headed Relics and Low Headed Relics as a gold string would be not as long for a given pitch as a bronze (or copper or brass) or steel (or iron).  This use of gold strings predates Bunting by hundreds of years.  There is placer gold in Ireland and the Irish people did not use gold as a monetary money during this period, they used cows instead.

      Yes, the material used for the strings and the Harp frame size does impact pitch.  frequency = tension x root(density per unit length)/ string length  almost there are more terms, but this is close enough.  The Welsh tended to use Horse Hair for Harp Strings.  There was a period where the Scots used the leather made from the belly of a prime female horse.  There were no folk Harps, Harps were such an expensive music system that only a court could afford them  .... that is up until the time of the Norman invasion, then things went down hill, 

      A big omission on Bunting's part is while he did record that all the Harper at the Belfast Harp Festival tuned their Harp the same way and that they tuned from an authoritarian source; Bunting omitted saying what this source was. 

      Yes, the Grand Staff is a retaliative late invention.  It works the other way around, the pitch happens and various listeners who could read music, try to communicate what happened by drawing symbols on paper.  When working with music scales, the Grand Staff and the letters A to G do not do much in conveying what pitch or frequency happened.  Also Frequency is a very late invention, only since the mid 20th century can frequency be measured.

      Whether the Sisters (or Lying Together) were a certain pitch is the whole point of this discussion. We do not know, we are guessing; but it is important.  The only two reference points we have are: 1) Edward Bunting, as the recording secretary for the 1792 Belfast harp Festival, and 2) Edward Bunting as quoting Dennis Hempson, who was the last of the true Irish Wire Strung Harper.   Hempson could not read music.  Bunting could read music but did not play the Harp.

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