A blog about the Jaw harp.
Friday, February 16, 2007
This is a blog about the Jaw harp, an ancient instrument called by many names all over the world. Called Guimbarde in France, Scacciapensieri in Italy, Maultrommel in Germany and Austria, Trump in various forms and spellings is used today in Europe, such as Mondtrom in Dutch and Tromp in Flemish. Harp is used in Scandinavian countries, such as Norway, Munnharpa, Denmark, Mundharpe and Finland, Huuliharpu. Doromb can be found in Hungary, with Drymba in Ukraine and Drombulja in Croatia. As we go further east we have variations on Komys, Kupus, and Khomus in northern and eastern Asia, while Morchang, Morsing, Dan Moi and Gengong can be found in India, Vietnam and Indonesia. The Jaw harp is an international instrument that is likely to have originated in Asia and travelled to Europe, arriving sometime around the 13th century. Here's an excerpt from an article from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
The Jew's harp, jaw harp, or mouth harp is thought to be one of the oldest musical instruments in the world; a musician apparently playing it can be seen in a Chinese drawing from the 3rd century BCE . It is also sometimes called a Jew's trump or juice harp, among other names, and has no particular connection with Judaism.
The instrument is a lamellaphone, which is in the category of plucked idiophones and consists of two types: idioglot, where the vibrating reed or tongue of the instrument is cut from a single piece of wood, bamboo, bone or thin flat metal, such as brass, and hetroglot, where there is a cast or bent metal frame to which is fixed a separate, flexible metal reed.
Since trances are facilitated by droning sounds, the Jew's harp has been associated with magic and has been a common instrument in shamanic rituals.
A few adepts still play the instrument and it is used in various genres. Here's an example of Primitive Techno:
Here's some hard rocking Blues-Rock:
Some down home Country-Folk:
And some more traditional style of playing:
Here's a gem of classic folk music from Mike Seeger.
Listen to this wonderful song called Did You Ever See the Devil, Uncle Joe?
And of course, Jack Elliot of Birtley, UK.
Listen to a short clip from Genticorum, a trio from Québéc that incorporates the dynamism of today's North American and European folk cultures in their music.
This is an interesting beatboxing piece from Danibal who lives in the Netherlands. In France, Jeanjean is doing something in the same genre.