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Re: Peg O' My Harp

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  • o2btuvan
    ... ************************** After the underwhelming response to my cry for help, I decided to proceed. Ideally, I would like to have placed the tuning pegs
    Message 1 of 24 , Jul 3, 2012
      I wrote:

      > A few weeks ago I started building an arched harp in the style of the ancient Egyptian instruments of the Middle Kingdom. I am now at the point where I am going to have to start making the pegs & peg holes and I am TERRIFIED!
      >
      > I do not know what the best way is to approach the job.


      **************************

      After the underwhelming response to my cry for help, I decided to proceed.

      Ideally, I would like to have placed the tuning pegs through the neck of the harp from side to side (parallel to the floor, as they are in modern harps) but that isn't the way these instruments were made traditionally. After much hesitation and some experimentation, I drilled 21 vertical, tapered holes from top to bottom through the neck.

      Today I shall try making a tapered peg to fit into one of the holes. It is probable that the ancient Egyptians used a tool of some sort to turn the pegs in their instruments. This would not only have facilitated the job of twisting the peg, but would have meant that the peg spacing could be much smaller because it would not have been necessary to leave enough room to accommodate a human thumb & forefinger between peg heads.

      The modern "qanun" uses tapered hardwood pegs with a short four-sided obelisk shape at the head, over which a special tool can easily fit for quick and efficient adjustments to tuning (see url below). I have made pegs like this before for my own qanun but the harp pegs will have to be much longer (about 4 inches) and tapered at a different angle.

      http://www.buyarabic.com/storeitem.asp?ic=HO246183AI170

      What has happened with the "tonkori"? Is the person who was building one still interested in the project? Any progress? The tonkori also uses tapered pegs so whoever builds one is eventually going to be confronted with some of the same considerations I am.

      It is puzzling to surf the internet for information about something very obscure and esoteric only to discover that, according to all the available search engines, you ARE the expert you are trying to find! LOL
    • michael king
      Hello Peter, The answer is always within us... ;-)Its funny and sometimes frustrating when that happens.  Those Qanun pegs are very similar to the ones we
      Message 2 of 24 , Jul 3, 2012
        Hello Peter, 
        The answer is always within us... ;-)
        Its funny and sometimes frustrating when that happens.
          
        Those Qanun pegs are very similar to the ones we use on front facing pegged anglo saxon lyres!  now if they did them in boxwood instead of rosewood.....  
        We use a socket ended key for these which is easy to make and keep small.    


        I will be making a Tonkori as soon as I have time... It has has tapered hardwood pegs which can easily fit into non tapered holes in the spruce headstock,  very easy to do.  

        Michael King


        --- On Tue, 3/7/12, o2btuvan <bernardroy@...> wrote:

        From: o2btuvan <bernardroy@...>
        Subject: [Anglo_Saxon_Lyres] Re: Peg O' My Harp
        To: Anglo_Saxon_Lyres@yahoogroups.com
        Date: Tuesday, 3 July, 2012, 11:59

         

        I wrote:

        > A few weeks ago I started building an arched harp in the style of the ancient Egyptian instruments of the Middle Kingdom. I am now at the point where I am going to have to start making the pegs & peg holes and I am TERRIFIED!
        >
        > I do not know what the best way is to approach the job.

        **************************

        After the underwhelming response to my cry for help, I decided to proceed.

        Ideally, I would like to have placed the tuning pegs through the neck of the harp from side to side (parallel to the floor, as they are in modern harps) but that isn't the way these instruments were made traditionally. After much hesitation and some experimentation, I drilled 21 vertical, tapered holes from top to bottom through the neck.

        Today I shall try making a tapered peg to fit into one of the holes. It is probable that the ancient Egyptians used a tool of some sort to turn the pegs in their instruments. This would not only have facilitated the job of twisting the peg, but would have meant that the peg spacing could be much smaller because it would not have been necessary to leave enough room to accommodate a human thumb & forefinger between peg heads.

        The modern "qanun" uses tapered hardwood pegs with a short four-sided obelisk shape at the head, over which a special tool can easily fit for quick and efficient adjustments to tuning (see url below). I have made pegs like this before for my own qanun but the harp pegs will have to be much longer (about 4 inches) and tapered at a different angle.

        http://www.buyarabic.com/storeitem.asp?ic=HO246183AI170

        What has happened with the "tonkori"? Is the person who was building one still interested in the project? Any progress? The tonkori also uses tapered pegs so whoever builds one is eventually going to be confronted with some of the same considerations I am.

        It is puzzling to surf the internet for information about something very obscure and esoteric only to discover that, according to all the available search engines, you ARE the expert you are trying to find! LOL

      • frode_kettilsson
        Hello! I m new to the group, but I wanted you to know I m following this with great interest, though I can t contribute anything useful on this particular
        Message 3 of 24 , Jul 3, 2012
          Hello! I'm new to the group, but I wanted you to know I'm following this with great interest, though I can't contribute anything useful on this particular subject. I wasn't familiar with this type of harp, and it wasn't where I was focused when I signed up, but now that I've seen it, I'm hooked, and I want to see how it will turn out!
          Frode

          --- In Anglo_Saxon_Lyres@yahoogroups.com, "o2btuvan" <bernardroy@...> wrote:
          >
          > I wrote:
          >
          > > A few weeks ago I started building an arched harp in the style of the ancient Egyptian instruments of the Middle Kingdom. I am now at the point where I am going to have to start making the pegs & peg holes and I am TERRIFIED!
          > >
          > > I do not know what the best way is to approach the job.
          >
          >
          > **************************
          >
          > After the underwhelming response to my cry for help, I decided to proceed...
        • o2btuvan
          ... ******************** The luthiers of 5000 years ago were confronted with all the same problems we are confronted with today. The only difference is that
          Message 4 of 24 , Jul 4, 2012
            michael king <michaeljking2007@...> wrote:
            >
            >...... Those Qanun pegs are very similar to the ones we use on front facing pegged anglo saxon lyres!

            ********************

            The luthiers of 5000 years ago were confronted with all the same problems we are confronted with today. The only difference is that they didn't have our modern technology and materials to solve them.

            A few weeks ago, someone on this list (not sure who) wrote that a lathe was not necessary to make a decent peg for a musical instrument, and that he had made many, with great success, using only a piece of sandpaper and a shank of wood stuck in a hand held drill.

            Inspired by this revelation I tried it and whoever it was, was RIGHT!

            I did not use a hand held drill because I feared that the peg could get off center so I put the wooden, square shaped dowel into a drill press, fiddled with it until it was absolutely centered with no wobble, and made a perfect peg in about 5 minutes!

            My thanks to whoever made the suggestion.

            As a template, I drilled a tapered hole in a spare chunk of cedar using the same bit I used for the harp, and then cut the wood with a band saw, lengthwise, right down through the center of the hole so I had a 2.5 inch "gutter" that I could easily lay my newly made peg into (this can be done without removing it from the drill) to make sure it conformed exactly to the degree of taper in the harp peg holes.

            Making the pegs turned out to be more fun, and much easier, than I had thought! I was surprised at the possible degree of precision in matching the taper.

            The next step will be fitting the leather to the sound box. I'm planning to use the same technique used to fit drumheads (something I have done in the past). First, you soak your hide (best to use a properly tanned hide and not a skin) in a tub of water for 24 hours so it becomes pliable and elastic, then you stretch it carefully over your form either pinning or stitching as you go.

            As the skin dries, it contracts and hardens forming a perfect "caisse de resonance". The tension created by the drying/contraction process is considerable and I pray it will not crush the supporting wooden frame underneath it, which is far more delicate than the kind of frame you would find on a drum.

            Years ago, I recall seeing a violin made out of leather in the museum of the Paris Conservatory of Music. Apparently this violin had a wonderful sound when it was made, as did the one next to it in the display, which was made out of glass. The problem with the leather violin was that it was influenced greatly by humidity - far more than wood.

            Needless to say, the problem with the glass violin, although it was beautiful both to look at and to hear, was .......ooops!
          • o2btuvan
            ... Well Frode, here ya go. The harp is at its next stage. Go to the following URL and scroll down. One thing for sure, it is going to LOOK spectacular.
            Message 5 of 24 , Jul 8, 2012
              "frode_kettilsson" <anthonyspangler@...> wrote:
              >
              > ....... I wanted you to know I'm following this with great interest, though I can't contribute anything useful on this particular subject. I wasn't familiar with this type of harp, and it wasn't where I was focused when I signed up, but now that I've seen it, I'm hooked, and I want to see how it will turn out!
              > Frode
              >



              Well Frode, here ya go. The harp is at its next stage. Go to the following URL and scroll down. One thing for sure, it is going to LOOK spectacular. Whether it is going to SOUND spectacular is anybody's guess.

              http://www.peterpringle.com/arched.html
            • Tim
              ... Hi Bernard, It s coming along nicely, can t wait to see (and hear) the finished product! Looking at the Ancient Egyptian illustration beside your latest
              Message 6 of 24 , Jul 9, 2012
                --- In Anglo_Saxon_Lyres@yahoogroups.com, "o2btuvan" <bernardroy@...> wrote:


                Hi Bernard,


                It's coming along nicely, can't wait to see (and hear) the finished product!

                Looking at the Ancient Egyptian illustration beside your latest photo, I'm curious as to whether you're going to go with the elegant gown or the topless bikini :-)

                Cheers,
                Tim






                > Well Frode, here ya go. The harp is at its next stage. Go to the following URL and scroll down. One thing for sure, it is going to LOOK spectacular. Whether it is going to SOUND spectacular is anybody's guess.
                >
                > http://www.peterpringle.com/arched.html
                >
              • johnedallas@aol.com
                In a message dated 09.07.2012 14:22:42 Mitteleuropäische Sommerzeit, vikingtimbo650@hotmail.com writes: Looking at the Ancient Egyptian illustration beside
                Message 7 of 24 , Jul 9, 2012
                  In a message dated 09.07.2012 14:22:42 Mitteleuropäische Sommerzeit, vikingtimbo650@... writes:
                  Looking at the Ancient Egyptian illustration beside your latest photo, I'm curious as to whether you're going to go with the elegant gown or the topless bikini :-)
                   
                  Topless bikini?  You can see that the girl next to the elegant harpist is a banjo player. That's not a bikini, that's her .....
                   
                   
                   
                   
                   
                   
                   
                  ... G-string!
                   
                  ;-)
                  Cheers,
                  John

                • o2btuvan
                  ... ********************* There are dozens of highly detailed, beautiful, period paintings on the walls of Middle Kingdom temples and tombs of both men and
                  Message 8 of 24 , Jul 9, 2012
                    >> .....Looking at the Ancient Egyptian illustration beside your latest photo, I'm
                    >> curious as to whether you're going to go with the elegant gown or the
                    >> topless bikini :-)
                    >
                    >
                    > .......Topless bikini? You can see that the girl next to the elegant harpist is
                    > a banjo player. That's not a bikini, that's her ..... ... G-string!
                    >

                    *********************


                    There are dozens of highly detailed, beautiful, period paintings on the walls of Middle Kingdom temples and tombs of both men and women playing harps, and I have noticed something that none of the egyptologists or archeo-musicologists whose work I have read, have mentioned.

                    The instruments are usually highly decorated but the art on harps played by females tends to depict garlands and lotus flowers, while the mens' harps have geometrical patterns.

                    Now, about that bikini. I actually did get stopped once, many years ago, by the police on the Lido in Venice (Italy not California) for wearing a bathing suit that was too small! I pretended I didn't speak Italian (which I do) and that I didn't understand anything they were saying or what the whole fuss was about. After getting nowhere for about ten minutes they let me go.

                    I do have a knack for getting into trouble in ferrin countries. Believe it or not, I spent the Six Day War (June '67) in a jail in Cairo!

                    Jennifer S. mentioned a while back that in regard to the Sumerian lyre, it is important to consider how the string leaves the yoke. My Egyptian harp is similar to the lyre because the strings descend over a rounded "neck". There does not seem to have been a "pin" (as there is in modern harps) or any sort of ridge at the peg end on any of the existing examples of these instruments.

                    The more "gently" the string leaves the neck, the softer and more muted the sound will be. It could be that harpists of the period did not want the tone of their instruments to be either too bright or too sustained.

                    My impression is that once the strings are on the harp, the timbre will be surprisingly rich, particularly in the bass register.
                  • irrotational@activ8.net.au
                    Hi, I d really want to get very close to an original relic before sticking my neck out :-) but it seems to me that on the thinner, less angled, harp shell
                    Message 9 of 24 , Jul 9, 2012
                      Hi,

                      I'd really want to get very close to an original relic before sticking
                      my neck out :-) but it seems to me that on the thinner, less angled,
                      harp shell carved from solid pices of wood shown your web page, the
                      neck might have a bit of a facet on the side where the strings go
                      forth. I hazzard a guess that it would function as either a nut or the
                      opposite of a nut ie a buzzing device, if the angle were just right.

                      AFAIK, setting a string to buzz INCREASES the sustain at the same time
                      as it lessens the peak volume. By limiting the string excursion,
                      clipping the top of the waveform, the illusion is given that the sound
                      sustains longer since it doesn't immediately decay until the amplitude
                      falls below a critical value. This is a non-linear arrangement so it
                      also changes the overtone structure in interesting ways. eg as per the
                      Sitar.


                      Of course you need only plug your harp pickup into a well tuned fuzz
                      box to accomplish a similar effect!

                      :)


                      Craig.


                      Quoting o2btuvan <bernardroy@...>:

                      >
                      >>> .....Looking at the Ancient Egyptian illustration beside your
                      >>> latest photo, I'm
                      >>> curious as to whether you're going to go with the elegant gown or the
                      >>> topless bikini :-)
                      >>
                      >>
                      >> .......Topless bikini? You can see that the girl next to the
                      >> elegant harpist is
                      >> a banjo player. That's not a bikini, that's her ..... ... G-string!
                      >>
                      >
                      > *********************
                      >
                      >
                      > There are dozens of highly detailed, beautiful, period paintings on
                      > the walls of Middle Kingdom temples and tombs of both men and women
                      > playing harps, and I have noticed something that none of the
                      > egyptologists or archeo-musicologists whose work I have read, have
                      > mentioned.
                      >
                      > The instruments are usually highly decorated but the art on harps
                      > played by females tends to depict garlands and lotus flowers, while
                      > the mens' harps have geometrical patterns.
                      >
                      > Now, about that bikini. I actually did get stopped once, many years
                      > ago, by the police on the Lido in Venice (Italy not California) for
                      > wearing a bathing suit that was too small! I pretended I didn't
                      > speak Italian (which I do) and that I didn't understand anything
                      > they were saying or what the whole fuss was about. After getting
                      > nowhere for about ten minutes they let me go.
                      >
                      > I do have a knack for getting into trouble in ferrin countries.
                      > Believe it or not, I spent the Six Day War (June '67) in a jail in
                      > Cairo!
                      >
                      > Jennifer S. mentioned a while back that in regard to the Sumerian
                      > lyre, it is important to consider how the string leaves the yoke. My
                      > Egyptian harp is similar to the lyre because the strings descend
                      > over a rounded "neck". There does not seem to have been a "pin" (as
                      > there is in modern harps) or any sort of ridge at the peg end on any
                      > of the existing examples of these instruments.
                      >
                      > The more "gently" the string leaves the neck, the softer and more
                      > muted the sound will be. It could be that harpists of the period did
                      > not want the tone of their instruments to be either too bright or
                      > too sustained.
                      >
                      > My impression is that once the strings are on the harp, the timbre
                      > will be surprisingly rich, particularly in the bass register.
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                    • o2btuvan
                      ... ************************** Hi Craig, You make a good point. The neck of the harp you describe (below) seems to be six-sided and not perfectly round.
                      Message 10 of 24 , Jul 10, 2012
                        irrotational@... wrote:
                        >
                        >.... it seems to me that on the thinner, less angled,
                        > harp shell carved from solid pices of wood shown your web page, the
                        > neck might have a bit of a facet on the side where the strings go
                        > forth. I hazzard a guess that it would function as either a nut or the
                        > opposite of a nut ie a buzzing device, if the angle were just right.
                        >

                        **************************

                        Hi Craig,

                        You make a good point. The neck of the harp you describe (below) seems to be six-sided and not perfectly round.

                        http://www.peterpringle.com/naviform/harp3.jpg

                        You will also notice, however, that the grooves that have been worn into the cedar from the pressure of the strings passing over the neck seem to cut through the facets.

                        Here is a 16 string harp of the same style and period which also appears to show a 5 or possibly 6-sided neck. It was necessary for the instrument maker to have more of a 'C' shape on this harp in order to accommodate the number of strings. The museum conservators show the harp with only 12 of its possible 16 strings restored because the idiots didn't space them properly and there was no room for the top four notes! Note the charming little carved head at the top of the instrument.

                        http://www.peterpringle.com/naviform/9.jpg

                        Did the strings on these harps buzz? I doubt it. In order to create the buzzing sound you hear on the Indian tamboura or the Ethiopian begena, the string must pass over a very precisely angled flat surface (usually a wide, flat bridge of wood or bone) on which there is a slight ridge or bump - generally a heavy piece of thread or a leather thong wedged beneath the string - which can be adjusted so the string is lifted slightly allowing it to "slap" the bridge as it vibrates. Unlike lyres, harps don't really permit this effect because of the way they are built. In those instruments that do have the buzz effect, it happens at the soundbox not at the yoke or the neck.

                        One of the interesting characteristics of the "shovel-shaped" harps is that the strings did not pass through the skin of the soundbox. Instead, they were attached to a wooden bar that sat just above the skin and was attached to the instrument at either end. This meant that a much thinner and more resonant skin could be used without any danger of tearing, and no access to the inside of the soundbox was necessary because the instrument could be strung entirely from the outside. Here's a picture that shows the way it worked:


                        http://www.peterpringle.com/naviform/10.jpg

                        The kind of naviform style harp I am building had a similar wooden strip but it was underneath the skin of the soundbox, not floating above it. The strings passed through it from beneath, then through a hole in the skin, and it was held in place strictly by the upward pull of the strings (which is also what keeps the resonator skin taught). Of course, this meant that the leather hide had to be much thicker and stronger in order to withstand the tension without ripping.

                        Now that my harp is provided with its skin and its tuning pegs, I can see the exact place and angle where each string will leave the neck. It is not too late for me to facet the neck. This could be done without interfering in any way with either the pegs or their holes. I could always wait until the instrument is strung and, if it seems necessary, I could install a small, grooved, bone stud or "bridge pin" for each string so it would have a jump-off point. I'd prefer not to do this because it is not authentic.........but then WHAT IS?!

                        I am open to suggestions.

                        Thanks for bringing up the subject Craig. Writing all this down has allowed me to organize my thoughts on the subject. I had obviously not given enough thought to it!
                      • irrotational@activ8.net.au
                        Hi, those old instruments are amazing and they fill me with wonder! ... To me it seems that the grooves on that facet average a little deeper at the peg end
                        Message 11 of 24 , Jul 10, 2012
                          Hi,


                          those old instruments are amazing and they fill me with wonder!


                          Bernard said:
                          >
                          > You make a good point. The neck of the harp you describe (below)
                          > seems to be six-sided and not perfectly round.
                          >
                          > http://www.peterpringle.com/naviform/harp3.jpg
                          >
                          > You will also notice, however, that the grooves that have been worn
                          > into the cedar from the pressure of the strings passing over the
                          > neck seem to cut through the facets.
                          >

                          To me it seems that the grooves on that facet average a little deeper
                          at the peg end than at the forward end so that supports the idea of a
                          well defined departure point with the facet being at an angle to the
                          string plane.


                          > snip>
                          >
                          > Did the strings on these harps buzz? I doubt it. In order to create
                          > the buzzing sound you hear on the Indian tamboura or the Ethiopian
                          > begena, the string must pass over a very precisely angled flat
                          > surface (usually a wide, flat bridge of wood or bone) on which there
                          > is a slight ridge or bump - generally a heavy piece of thread or a
                          > leather thong wedged beneath the string - which can be adjusted so
                          > the string is lifted slightly allowing it to "slap" the bridge as it
                          > vibrates. Unlike lyres, harps don't really permit this effect
                          > because of the way they are built. In those instruments that do have
                          > the buzz effect, it happens at the soundbox not at the yoke or the
                          > neck.
                          >


                          There are buzzes of various types in diverse instruments. The sitar is
                          an obvious extreme case but I am certain that part of the funky sound
                          of a Fender Telecaster is due to the round bridge giving a slightly
                          vague string termination. If you change a tele bridge then you lose
                          some of the characteristic tele sound. (apologies for using such a
                          crass example)

                          The sound from a simple point contact buzz (string touching some fixed
                          obstacle) is different to the sound when the string comes off varying
                          round diameters and different yet again from the zing on an Indian
                          sitar bridge. The latter are fiendishly difficult to adjust and the
                          physics of their operation is very complex since they not only clip
                          the string but also change the effective string length at diffferent
                          parts of the string vibration cycle ( see Fletcher and Rossing, 'The
                          physics of musical instruments'.)


                          Craig
                        • o2btuvan
                          ... The fact that the old Egyptian instruments exist at all after four thousand years in the relatively good condition they re in, is amazing. After the
                          Message 12 of 24 , Jul 11, 2012
                            irrotational@... wrote:
                            >
                            > those old instruments are amazing and they fill me with wonder!
                            > .....To me it seems that the grooves on that facet average a little deeper
                            > at the peg end than at the forward end so that supports the idea of a
                            > well defined departure point with the facet being at an angle to the
                            > string plane.
                            >


                            The fact that the old Egyptian instruments exist at all after four thousand years in the relatively good condition they're in, is amazing. After the discovery of what remained of the 6th century Sutton Hoo lyre (a few muddy smudges and a bit of hardware) it took the experts years to figure out what the instrument looked like!

                            The facets on the necks of the ancient Egyptian harps seem irregular. The necks are often rounded on the top but appear to have carefully planed angles underneath. The only reason to do this would be to give the string a clean drop-off. If the facets are symmetrical, which they sometimes seem to be (i.e. added not only to the string side of the neck but also to the side the string does not touch) that was probably done for esthetic reasons.

                            If the ancient Egyptian paintings and bas reliefs of harpists are at all accurate, the old harpers played their instruments very much the way moderns musicians do. One curious difference that seems fairly consistent is that the ancient musicians appear to have played the lower strings with their right hands and the upper strings with their left. I seem to recall that there were Irish traditions of harp playing that did the same thing, although today harp technique is fairly standardized - right hand treble, left hand bass.

                            The question of string length and pitch in the ancient harps is quite intriguing. The very large harps (around 6 feet high) usually played by temple priests, had relatively few strings (about 10 or 11) even though there would have been room for far more. I think this is because arched harp strings were maintained at fairly low tension and the amplitude of a heavy bass string would have been so large that if the strings were too close together they would have interfered with one another. If a vibrating string needed and inch and a quarter in order not to touch the strings on either side of it when they were also in motion, then the strings would have to have been almost three inches apart. This seems to have been the case with the large temple harps (URL below)

                            http://www.peterpringle.com/naviform/harp4.jpg

                            I decided to give my 21 string harp standard half inch modern concert spacing which seems to be about what some of the similar middle kingdom harps must have had. It will be interesting to see if this imposes some playing restrictions on the bass strings.

                            Buzz is also related to string tension. The lower the tension the easier it is to induce buzzing with delicate adjustments of one sort or another.
                          • o2btuvan
                            Good nooz & bad nooz. The sound of the Egyptian harp once it was strung blew me away - and I am not easily blown away. It has a slight buzz to it because of
                            Message 13 of 24 , Jul 17, 2012
                              Good nooz & bad nooz.


                              The sound of the Egyptian harp once it was strung blew me away - and I am not easily blown away. It has a slight buzz to it because of the way the strings leave the neck and this causes a longer decay time. I had thought the sound would be rather thin compared to modern instruments but the opposite is the case. The sound is rich, deep and vibrant (somewhere between a large Celtic style harp and an Ethiopian begena).

                              The bad news? I am going to have to make a new set of tuning pegs using harder wood and a slightly different design because the pegs I have are breaking (particularly on the lower octave strings).

                              To fix the string to the peg I drilled a hole in the stock and put the string through it as we do on modern instruments. The lower octave strings are quite heavy, so I had to drill a fairly large hole and this weakened the peg significantly. The higher octave strings are much finer and have less tension applied to them so my cherry wood pegs may be O.K. but I'm going to have to make the lower pegs from something stronger and harder (oak? maple?......any suggestions?)

                              So far, I am using gut strings made for modern concert harps (beginning with a 5th octave 'C' on the lowest note). The ancient musicians also used gut but their strings would not have been as finely machined and highly polished as our modern gut strings. They would probably have been more like the gut strings used by begena players which are fairly "scruffy" by comparison (slightly frayed, inconsistent in diameter and with a visible "twist" in them).

                              Last year I taught myself to make silk strings which are just as hard and strong as gut. Silk was used on baroque harps, lutes etc., after it was introduced to Europe by crusaders returning from the middle east. It is still used on many Chinese instruments. Silk has wonderful and unique acoustic properties and I can make strings for pennies, in any gauge and any color. The down side is that it's relatively time consuming, a bit messy, and I can only make one string at a time.

                              Silk is so strong that it actually snapped a solid steel part on my string winder when I deliberately over-wound a string during an experiment. I wanted to see the precise point at which the string would break - instead, the string broke the machine and a potentially deadly steel fragment shot across the room and embedded itself in the wall!

                              I failed to remember that ancient Chinese archers used silk to string their bows.

                              Then there is nylon. I just ordered a complete set of 3rd, 4th & 5th octave nylon harp strings from Lyon & Healy. I'm going to have to experiment and see what sounds best. That could take a while because the sound of a string can only be properly assessed after it has been stretched and broken in. The only way to make a comparison would be to record each type of string and then A/B the recordings like an astronomer looking for comets and meteors.
                            • Tim
                              ... Hi Bernard, Well the real good nooz is that your awesome instrument is finally playable!! And obviously no expense was spared... gut strings on a harp...!
                              Message 14 of 24 , Jul 17, 2012
                                --- In Anglo_Saxon_Lyres@yahoogroups.com, "o2btuvan" <bernardroy@...> wrote:


                                Hi Bernard,

                                Well the real good nooz is that your awesome instrument is finally playable!! And obviously no expense was spared... gut strings on a harp...! We're all looking forward to the YouTube video when everything has settled in.

                                The bad nooz about the pegs is pretty good as bad nooz goez. I would think there must be some surviving pegs from Egypt that show whether they had drilled holes, or "splits" on the ends or whatever. A large instrument like that must support an enormous amount of tension from the pull of all those long thick strings, so it's probably just a matter of finding a hard enough wood. But that's not a crucial detail in terms of an accurately sounding/playable Ancient Egyptian harp.

                                The begenna is one of my favourite instruments, at least when I'm in a somber mood. If I ever get to play one, I imagine it would feel like driving a semi trailer after being used to a mini minor!

                                A harp is one of those things that archaeology by itself can't tell us much about. The object was all about sound, and it takes someone to replicate the original in brand new materials for us to know what the object "really was". I'm looking forward to finding out.. it's a fantastic experiment!

                                Cheers,
                                Tim








                                > Good nooz & bad nooz.
                                >
                                >
                                > The sound of the Egyptian harp once it was strung blew me away - and I am not easily blown away. It has a slight buzz to it because of the way the strings leave the neck and this causes a longer decay time. I had thought the sound would be rather thin compared to modern instruments but the opposite is the case. The sound is rich, deep and vibrant (somewhere between a large Celtic style harp and an Ethiopian begena).
                                >
                                > The bad news? I am going to have to make a new set of tuning pegs using harder wood and a slightly different design because the pegs I have are breaking (particularly on the lower octave strings).
                                >
                                > To fix the string to the peg I drilled a hole in the stock and put the string through it as we do on modern instruments. The lower octave strings are quite heavy, so I had to drill a fairly large hole and this weakened the peg significantly. The higher octave strings are much finer and have less tension applied to them so my cherry wood pegs may be O.K. but I'm going to have to make the lower pegs from something stronger and harder (oak? maple?......any suggestions?)
                                >
                                > So far, I am using gut strings made for modern concert harps (beginning with a 5th octave 'C' on the lowest note). The ancient musicians also used gut but their strings would not have been as finely machined and highly polished as our modern gut strings. They would probably have been more like the gut strings used by begena players which are fairly "scruffy" by comparison (slightly frayed, inconsistent in diameter and with a visible "twist" in them).
                                >
                                > Last year I taught myself to make silk strings which are just as hard and strong as gut. Silk was used on baroque harps, lutes etc., after it was introduced to Europe by crusaders returning from the middle east. It is still used on many Chinese instruments. Silk has wonderful and unique acoustic properties and I can make strings for pennies, in any gauge and any color. The down side is that it's relatively time consuming, a bit messy, and I can only make one string at a time.
                                >
                                > Silk is so strong that it actually snapped a solid steel part on my string winder when I deliberately over-wound a string during an experiment. I wanted to see the precise point at which the string would break - instead, the string broke the machine and a potentially deadly steel fragment shot across the room and embedded itself in the wall!
                                >
                                > I failed to remember that ancient Chinese archers used silk to string their bows.
                                >
                                > Then there is nylon. I just ordered a complete set of 3rd, 4th & 5th octave nylon harp strings from Lyon & Healy. I'm going to have to experiment and see what sounds best. That could take a while because the sound of a string can only be properly assessed after it has been stretched and broken in. The only way to make a comparison would be to record each type of string and then A/B the recordings like an astronomer looking for comets and meteors.
                                >
                              • simon@simonchadwick.net
                                This is great to hear about! Looking forward to video / sound clips. I have made pegs from sycamore (acer pseudoplatanus) and they are fine. Have you tried
                                Message 15 of 24 , Jul 17, 2012
                                  This is great to hear about! Looking forward to video / sound clips.

                                  I have made pegs from sycamore (acer pseudoplatanus) and they are fine.

                                  Have you tried using the friction of the string on the peg to avoid
                                  having to drill a hole? e.g. tie a clove hitch round the peg, pull it
                                  tight, and wind the string over the top of the knot to lock it all in
                                  place?

                                  You can buy unpolished gut strings from some historical string
                                  makers, e.g. Ephraim Segerman at www.nrinstruments.co.uk does them
                                  and I am sure there will be sources in your part of the world.
                                • Ed Margerum
                                  Northern Renaissance Instruments e-mail should be www.nrinstruments.demon.co.uk/ Ed Margerum I m the New England man. I m vital in New England. --Willy Loman
                                  Message 16 of 24 , Jul 17, 2012
                                    Northern Renaissance Instruments e-mail should be www.nrinstruments.demon.co.uk/

                                    Ed Margerum

                                    ""I'm the New England man. I'm vital in New England."--Willy Loman

                                    ----- Original Message -----
                                    From: simon@...
                                    To: "Anglo Saxon Lyres" <Anglo_Saxon_Lyres@yahoogroups.com>
                                    Sent: Tuesday, July 17, 2012 10:10:33 AM
                                    Subject: Re: [Anglo_Saxon_Lyres] Re: Peg O' My Harp






                                    This is great to hear about! Looking forward to video / sound clips.

                                    I have made pegs from sycamore (acer pseudoplatanus) and they are fine.

                                    Have you tried using the friction of the string on the peg to avoid
                                    having to drill a hole? e.g. tie a clove hitch round the peg, pull it
                                    tight, and wind the string over the top of the knot to lock it all in
                                    place?

                                    You can buy unpolished gut strings from some historical string
                                    makers, e.g. Ephraim Segerman at www.nrinstruments.co.uk does them
                                    and I am sure there will be sources in your part of the world.
                                  • Paul Butler
                                    Hello! For what is it worth, you can get relatively inexpensive good guts strings for koto or shamisen (Japanese rather than Chinese). The koto strings are
                                    Message 17 of 24 , Jul 17, 2012
                                      Hello!

                                      For what is it worth, you can get relatively inexpensive good guts strings for koto or shamisen (Japanese rather than Chinese).  The koto strings are usually at least 250cm, so you can string pretty much anything with them (the koto itself has about a 170cm sounding length). 

                                      The new Nylgut is also good for plucked/strummed instruments - looks and behaves more like gut than standard nylon (such as nylon guitar or harp strings), but not as sensitive to humidity and temperature shifts as natural gut and generally is stronger.  

                                      Either will cut through anything softer than hard maple for the pegs though  ;)

                                      PCB

                                       


                                      On Tue, Jul 17, 2012 at 9:15 AM, o2btuvan <bernardroy@...> wrote:
                                       

                                      Good nooz & bad nooz.

                                      The sound of the Egyptian harp once it was strung blew me away - and I am not easily blown away. It has a slight buzz to it because of the way the strings leave the neck and this causes a longer decay time. I had thought the sound would be rather thin compared to modern instruments but the opposite is the case. The sound is rich, deep and vibrant (somewhere between a large Celtic style harp and an Ethiopian begena).

                                      The bad news? I am going to have to make a new set of tuning pegs using harder wood and a slightly different design because the pegs I have are breaking (particularly on the lower octave strings).

                                      To fix the string to the peg I drilled a hole in the stock and put the string through it as we do on modern instruments. The lower octave strings are quite heavy, so I had to drill a fairly large hole and this weakened the peg significantly. The higher octave strings are much finer and have less tension applied to them so my cherry wood pegs may be O.K. but I'm going to have to make the lower pegs from something stronger and harder (oak? maple?......any suggestions?)

                                      So far, I am using gut strings made for modern concert harps (beginning with a 5th octave 'C' on the lowest note). The ancient musicians also used gut but their strings would not have been as finely machined and highly polished as our modern gut strings. They would probably have been more like the gut strings used by begena players which are fairly "scruffy" by comparison (slightly frayed, inconsistent in diameter and with a visible "twist" in them).

                                      Last year I taught myself to make silk strings which are just as hard and strong as gut. Silk was used on baroque harps, lutes etc., after it was introduced to Europe by crusaders returning from the middle east. It is still used on many Chinese instruments. Silk has wonderful and unique acoustic properties and I can make strings for pennies, in any gauge and any color. The down side is that it's relatively time consuming, a bit messy, and I can only make one string at a time.

                                      Silk is so strong that it actually snapped a solid steel part on my string winder when I deliberately over-wound a string during an experiment. I wanted to see the precise point at which the string would break - instead, the string broke the machine and a potentially deadly steel fragment shot across the room and embedded itself in the wall!

                                      I failed to remember that ancient Chinese archers used silk to string their bows.

                                      Then there is nylon. I just ordered a complete set of 3rd, 4th & 5th octave nylon harp strings from Lyon & Healy. I'm going to have to experiment and see what sounds best. That could take a while because the sound of a string can only be properly assessed after it has been stretched and broken in. The only way to make a comparison would be to record each type of string and then A/B the recordings like an astronomer looking for comets and meteors.


                                    • michaeljking2007
                                      You have really distracted me today with thoughts of making silk strings!! Maybe you could do a tutorial on this someday?? I would love to find out more..
                                      Message 18 of 24 , Jul 17, 2012
                                        You have really distracted me today with thoughts of making silk strings!! Maybe you could do a tutorial on this someday?? I would love to find out more.. Tonkori Lyres... and Guzheng, sure I can justify the time!!

                                        --- In Anglo_Saxon_Lyres@yahoogroups.com, "o2btuvan" <bernardroy@...> wrote:
                                        >
                                        > Good nooz & bad nooz.
                                        >
                                        >
                                        > The sound of the Egyptian harp once it was strung blew me away - and I am not easily blown away. It has a slight buzz to it because of the way the strings leave the neck and this causes a longer decay time. I had thought the sound would be rather thin compared to modern instruments but the opposite is the case. The sound is rich, deep and vibrant (somewhere between a large Celtic style harp and an Ethiopian begena).
                                        >
                                        > The bad news? I am going to have to make a new set of tuning pegs using harder wood and a slightly different design because the pegs I have are breaking (particularly on the lower octave strings).
                                        >
                                        > To fix the string to the peg I drilled a hole in the stock and put the string through it as we do on modern instruments. The lower octave strings are quite heavy, so I had to drill a fairly large hole and this weakened the peg significantly. The higher octave strings are much finer and have less tension applied to them so my cherry wood pegs may be O.K. but I'm going to have to make the lower pegs from something stronger and harder (oak? maple?......any suggestions?)
                                        >
                                        > So far, I am using gut strings made for modern concert harps (beginning with a 5th octave 'C' on the lowest note). The ancient musicians also used gut but their strings would not have been as finely machined and highly polished as our modern gut strings. They would probably have been more like the gut strings used by begena players which are fairly "scruffy" by comparison (slightly frayed, inconsistent in diameter and with a visible "twist" in them).
                                        >
                                        > Last year I taught myself to make silk strings which are just as hard and strong as gut. Silk was used on baroque harps, lutes etc., after it was introduced to Europe by crusaders returning from the middle east. It is still used on many Chinese instruments. Silk has wonderful and unique acoustic properties and I can make strings for pennies, in any gauge and any color. The down side is that it's relatively time consuming, a bit messy, and I can only make one string at a time.
                                        >
                                        > Silk is so strong that it actually snapped a solid steel part on my string winder when I deliberately over-wound a string during an experiment. I wanted to see the precise point at which the string would break - instead, the string broke the machine and a potentially deadly steel fragment shot across the room and embedded itself in the wall!
                                        >
                                        > I failed to remember that ancient Chinese archers used silk to string their bows.
                                        >
                                        > Then there is nylon. I just ordered a complete set of 3rd, 4th & 5th octave nylon harp strings from Lyon & Healy. I'm going to have to experiment and see what sounds best. That could take a while because the sound of a string can only be properly assessed after it has been stretched and broken in. The only way to make a comparison would be to record each type of string and then A/B the recordings like an astronomer looking for comets and meteors.
                                        >
                                      • o2btuvan
                                        ... Michael, The following article by Alexander Raykov is well worth reading. http://www.silkqin.com/03qobj/strings/raykovstrings.htm I got interested in
                                        Message 19 of 24 , Jul 17, 2012
                                          "michaeljking2007" <michaeljking2007@...> wrote:
                                          >
                                          > You have really distracted me today with thoughts of making silk strings!! Maybe you could do a tutorial on this someday?? I would love to find out more.. Tonkori Lyres... and Guzheng, sure I can justify the time!!
                                          >

                                          Michael,

                                          The following article by Alexander Raykov is well worth reading.

                                          http://www.silkqin.com/03qobj/strings/raykovstrings.htm

                                          I got interested in making silk strings because I play the guqin. What I found was that I could make a very good quality silk harp string almost right away but the guqin was another kettle o' fish.

                                          The harp is a plucked instrument but the guqin is played using a variety of different techniques, one of which requires sliding the fingers over the wooden soundboard while pressing down on the string. This means that the string must be absolutely smooth as glass with no inconsistencies or flaws, or they will show up immediately in the sound. The technique is similar to that of Indian sarod players but they play on wire strings pressing on a metal soundboard so there is no problem with smoothness. There are guqin players who use wire but it is not traditional and it eventually destroys the lacquered playing surface of the soundboard.

                                          It took me weeks, and dozens of failed experiments, to come up with a silk string as smooth as ice, and as strong as steel.

                                          Strings for the guzheng can be wound like the bass strings of harps and guitars and they sound great because, unlike the guqin, at no time must the player slide his or her hand along the string (the tone is sharpened or flattened by pressing downward on the string on the "dead" side of the bridge). Sliding over a wound string would produce the "zipper" effect which would be unacceptable.
                                        • Tim
                                          ... Hi Bernard, ... I m sure you ve already seen it, but there s a fantastic guqin performance in the movie Hero, during a fight scene with Jet Li. The playing
                                          Message 20 of 24 , Jul 18, 2012
                                            --- In Anglo_Saxon_Lyres@yahoogroups.com, "o2btuvan" <bernardroy@...> wrote:


                                            Hi Bernard,


                                            > I got interested in making silk strings because I play the guqin. What I found was that I could make a very good quality silk harp string almost right away but the guqin was another kettle o' fish.


                                            I'm sure you've already seen it, but there's a fantastic guqin performance in the movie Hero, during a fight scene with Jet Li. The playing begins at 1:36:


                                            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eTsKEgUJyUQ

                                            Cheers,
                                            Tim
                                          • o2btuvan
                                            ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eTsKEgUJyUQ Hi Tim, The instrument we see in the sequence is actually not a guqin at all but a prop made by the actor who
                                            Message 21 of 24 , Jul 18, 2012
                                              "Tim" <vikingtimbo650@...> wrote:
                                              >
                                              > I'm sure you've already seen it, but there's a fantastic guqin performance in the movie Hero, during a fight scene with Jet Li. The playing begins at 1:36:
                                              >
                                              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eTsKEgUJyUQ



                                              Hi Tim,

                                              The instrument we see in the sequence is actually not a guqin at all but a prop made by the actor who plays the part of the old man.

                                              What we hear on the soundtrack, however, is a real guqin played by Liu Li, a professor of Chinese music from the Beijing Conservatory. It is a marvelous performance but I would have enjoyed the whole thing a lot more if it was not accompanied by constant yelling and screaming in the background!

                                              The director of the film thought that without the screaming the sequence was a little too "refined" for the average young, male, martial arts film buff.

                                              One afternoon last December, just for fun, I took a crack at adding some music to one of the supernatural fight scenes from HERO, using the guqin (one of the most ancient instruments known) and the theremin (one of the most recent). I improvised a simple melody in a vaguely neo-romantic style and then added the guqin (using silk strings).

                                              I think we've been down this road before.....

                                              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7CDDre5SmE
                                            • Tim
                                              ... Hi Bernard, I like it! The guqin and theremin are both quite surreal sounding instruments and well suited to the dreamlike fight scene (which if memory
                                              Message 22 of 24 , Jul 19, 2012
                                                --- In Anglo_Saxon_Lyres@yahoogroups.com, "o2btuvan" <bernardroy@...> wrote:


                                                Hi Bernard,


                                                I like it! The guqin and theremin are both quite surreal sounding instruments and well suited to the dreamlike fight scene (which if memory serves was conducted only in the minds of the combatants as a tribute to their fallen friend). Hero's a great movie, highly recommended to anyone who hasn't seen it!

                                                Cheers,
                                                Tim






                                                > One afternoon last December, just for fun, I took a crack at adding some music to one of the supernatural fight scenes from HERO, using the guqin (one of the most ancient instruments known) and the theremin (one of the most recent). I improvised a simple melody in a vaguely neo-romantic style and then added the guqin (using silk strings).
                                                >
                                                > I think we've been down this road before.....
                                                >
                                                > http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7CDDre5SmE
                                                >
                                              • o2btuvan
                                                ... It is absolutely necessary to anchor harp strings to the shaft of the tuning pin. There is no knot in the world that will prevent slipping if the string is
                                                Message 23 of 24 , Jul 19, 2012
                                                  Simon wrote:

                                                  > I have made pegs from sycamore (acer pseudoplatanus) and they are fine.
                                                  >
                                                  > Have you tried using the friction of the string on the peg to avoid
                                                  > having to drill a hole? e.g. tie a clove hitch round the peg, pull it
                                                  > tight, and wind the string over the top of the knot to lock it all in
                                                  > place?


                                                  It is absolutely necessary to anchor harp strings to the shaft of the tuning pin. There is no knot in the world that will prevent slipping if the string is not firmly fixed to the pin (or peg) itself.

                                                  I don't think my peg design was very good and my craftsmanship was shoddy.

                                                  First of all, I made the tapered pegs without a lathe so they were probably weakened by inconsistencies in diameter. They looked fine to the naked eye, but calipers quickly revealed just how wonky they were!

                                                  Then I drilled through the shaft slightly above the point where the peg emerges from the tapered hole, which further weakened the shank in the precise spot where it was already most fragile.

                                                  Today I am going to make some hard maple pegs on a lathe so that they will be at their maximum thickness at all points for the hole they must fit into. The string will fit through a hole drilled higher in the peg where the wood is much thicker and stronger and can withstand the torque of the tuning procedure.

                                                  Once my harp was fitted with its resonator skin and completely polychromed, I was anxious to hear what it would sound like so I did things too fast and I got sloppy. I dashed off a bunch of substandard pegs that looked O.K. but were nowhere near up to the demands of the instrument.

                                                  You'd think by now I'd know better!

                                                  The bass strings on large arched harps were quite thick compared to smaller, lighter harps, lyres and lutes. The lowest string on my Egyptian harp is a little over a sixteenth of an inch thick with a vibrating length of over 52 inches.

                                                  I was going to try my hand at making gut strings a few years ago but it's a messy, stinky job and you can buy them in any gauge and any length you want, so I never got involved with making them myself.

                                                  Silk strings, on the other hand, are very hard to find and some brands from China that call themselves "silk" are not silk at all. They are expensive and well made, but they are flat wound synthetic and not at all like the traditional silk "ice" string.
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