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 orphan harp idea was born when Martha Gallagher, harpist from upstate NY, toured our workshop. She spied a rack of dusty parts in the corner and asked what they were. When we told her they were waiting to be matched with new mates, having lost one along the way, the story-teller in her went on high alert. Before we knew it, we were modfiying our long-held belief that all the wood parts in a harp needed to match, not only in species, but in grain and color characteristics. We are constantly vigilant to meet that standard, but the tree can have other ideas. A flaw may show up part way through the construction, and we lose one member of a set of matching parts. All the rest, then, go on the shelf and wait for a new mate. Sometimes a long time.
So, for Martha, we took a deep breath, closed our eyes (well, not really), and rescued some lonely but beautiful harp parts from the shelf. We built an FH34 of walnut, maple and bubinga parts that sang so beautifully, Martha launched into writing songs and telling its story. You can hear her talk about it here.
Once again, we've melded lonely but beautiful harp parts into a totally unique Orphan FH34. This one has cherry sides and back, bubinga neck and pillar, and maple accents. The voice is pure, bright and sweet. Anyone ready to adopt? It comes with a case.