Amplified harps, what you need to know-


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It seems that most performing today is done using amplification. As it turns out, the harp is a tricky instrument to amplify satisfactorily.

1. Microphones. Pointing a microphone at a harp is the time honored way of getting input. The placement of the microphone is critical in order to get a balanced sampling of the harp and not collect the ambient sounds around you as well. Once positioned, you must not move yourself or the microphone.

2. Contact microphones or transducers. These are the small devices that you stick on your instrument with putty or sticky tape. By sensing the vibration of the harp with one of these transducers, you do not collect normal room noises. Placement of the sensor in or on the harp must be done with care, however, to obtain good sound. A medical stethoscope is useful to find the "hot" or dead spots on the body of your harp.

There are two potential problems with this approach. One, there is great possibility for feedback- if the note you pluck is strongly amplified, the sound coming from the loudspeaker will cause the soundbox of your harp to vibrate even more vigorously. This in turn is picked up and amplified, the loop is repeated, and very quickly you have a deafening roar. The other problem is that the transducer is too literal. All stringed instruments have resonance peaks, frequencies that jump out much louder than other pitches. Transducers will faithfully transmit these. In the normal acoustic operation of a harp, you don't notice these peaks very much, but amplification makes them very obvious. They can be "filtered" but you must have good electronic hardware ($), and take care.

3. Pickups on each string. This is not usually a customer add-on, but rather is built into the harp. A harp with pickups on each string can be amplified tremendously without feedback problems. And, assuming that the pickups are specifically designed for use on a harp, they pick up the strings, but not the other noises of the harp (pedal movement, tuning wrench, etc.). The full blended sound of the harp is in the strings. Amplifying these vibrations gives you that warm, harplike sound you want. Click for information on Kortier Pickups.

4. MIDI harp By connecting the output from each string to a specially designed midi processor, the MIDI harp puts at your fingertips any sound that a keyboard synthesizer can make. The creative possibilities are intriguing! Click for information on the Kortier Midi Harps.