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Simon Chadwick's
Early Gaelic Harp Emporium

History books

The Gaelic harp traditions of Ireland and Scotland have a long history stretching back centuries. The books listed here cover different aspects of that story, from general overviews to highly technical studies. Click on an author's name for pricing and purchasing details of their books

EM Nov 08 Defining Strains The Harp of Ireland Annals Tree of Strings Bunting's Messiah Martin van Schaik Historische The Irish Harp Pencerdd's Toolkit Music in Welsh Culture

Early Music: ‘The Early Irish Harp' by Simon Chadwick
An illustrated article, the ideal overview of the Scottish and Irish harp traditions.

Simon Chadwick, The Trinity College or Brian Boru Harp
A booklet presenting the research on these pages in convenient printed form.

Keith Sanger and Alison Kinnaird, ‘Tree of Strings’
The best history of the harp in Scotland.

Joan Rimmer, ‘The Irish Harp’
The original monograph. Secondhand copies usually available.

Gráinne Yeats, ‘The Harp of Ireland’
An excellent little book, mostly looking at the 18th century traditions.

Helen Lawlor, ‘Irish Harping 1900-2010’
Aspects of Irish harp playing in the 20th century, including the historical revival.

Nora Joan Clark, ‘The Story of the Irish Harp’
A popular overview.

The New History of Ireland Vol. I
Includes a very good article on music in medieval Ireland, by Ann Buckley.

Charlotte Milligan Fox, ‘Annals of the Irish Harpers’
From 1911, includes many extracts from letters and diaries.

Roy Johnston, ‘Bunting's Messiah’
A biography of the music collector who saved much of the tradition.

Sally Harper, ‘Music in Welsh Culture’, CMCS, ‘Hanes Cerddoriaeth Cymru' (Welsh Music History)
A full length book, an article, and an edited journal, on medieval Welsh music.

Osian Ellis, ‘The Story of the Harp in Wales’
Slim popular historiy of Welsh harps.

Robert Bruce Armstrong, ‘The Irish and Highland Harps’
A detailed illustrated technical study of many of the surviving instruments.

Karen Loomis, ‘The Lamont and Queen Mary Harps’
An article published 2012 in the scholarly journal GSJ, describing the latest scientific discoveries about these two old instruments.

George Stevens, ‘Historical Notes on the Irish Harp’
A harp maker's dissertation.

Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society Vol. 102, 1997, contains the article by Diarmaid Ó Catháin, ‘Revd Charles Bunworth of Buttevant, Patron of Harpers and Poets’.

Irish Musical Studies series
Barra Boydell & Kerry Houston (eds), ‘Music, Ireland and the Seventeenth Century’, and Gerard Gillen & Harry White (eds) ‘Musicology in Ireland’
Scholarly essays on early Irish music, including some of direct relevance to early Gaelic harp studies

James Porter (ed), ‘Defining Strains: The Musical Life of Scots in the Seventeenth Century’
A collection of scholarly essays including two on harpers in Gaelic Scotland.

Heidrun Rosenzweig (ed), ‘Historische Harfen / Historical Harps’
A collection of essays about many different aspects of harp history, bilingual in English and German.

Martin van Schaik, ‘The harp in the Middle Ages’
Very scholarly and thought provoking work from the Continent.

Séamus Ó Brógáin, ‘The Irish harp Emblem’
A small but essential book on the heraldry of the harp in Ireland.

Daniel Tokar & Ann Heymann: ‘Dialogue on Historical Wire for Gaelic Harps'
Technical results of experiments with making historical alloys and testing them on replica harps.

Historical stringing: ‘The metallurgy of 17th & 18th century music wire’
A technical monograph on old harpsichord wire.