Celtic harp, folk harp and lever harp are the terms most commonly used to describe the style of harp that we make. While the first two are certainly accurate descriptions, they can imply that these harps are meant for folk music alone, when in fact we have heard everything from the traditional Celtic repertoire to music from other folk traditions, classical, jazz, pop, original compositions and therapy music played on our harps. Calling them lever harps also helps to differentiate these from the larger pedal harps that you see played in orchestras. With a lever harp, key changes are made by flipping the sharping levers that are at the top of each string, whereas with a pedal harp, key changes are actuated by foot pedals - often a necessary function in orchestral playing. Because they are larger and have a more complicated mechanism, pedal harps tend to be a good deal heavier and more expensive than lever harps.
The idea for an orphan harp came from harpist Martha Gallagher, who was touring our shop a few years ago when she was struck by the sight of a rack of extra harp parts. We normally cut all the parts of a harp out of the same board, and these orphaned parts were leftovers whose mates had developed flaws of some sort and had to be discarded. Many of them had been sitting around for years in the hopes that a matching orphaned part would someday show up and complete the set.
On Martha's suggestion, we began giving these leftover parts a role to play in their own unique patchwork harps, which she nicknamed orphan harps. We can't predict when we'll accumulate enough extra parts for a full harp, or which woods they will be made of, so we can't build an orphan harp to order. Part of the fun is in the surprise. Each one has its own look and voice, and we find ourselves discovering its personality after it is "born."
This particular orphan is our FH36S model and has a body made of bubinga and cherry with a gorgeous curly walnut neck and pillar. The sound is quite lovely - it seems to have the clear and bell-like treble range of a bubinga harp combined with a warmth and mellowness in the bass that lies somewhere between the sound of cherry and walnut. It's just waiting for someone to fill out the adoption paperwork...