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Thursday, May 7, 2020

Trigon or Angle Harp popular in Rome as well as Egypt

The harp, the Egyptians' favorite musical instrument, was used as early as the Old Kingdom. The harp depicted on many mastabas is an arched instrument with a long curved handle and few strings. The angle harp, also called a trigon, invented in the East during the second millennium BC, first appeared in Egypt during the New Kingdom. The two types of harps resulted in a wide variety of shapes and decoration.

The instrument grew in popularity throughout the Greek-Roman period. It was used both for private purposes, where it accompanied songs and dances, as illustrated in tomb decors, and for religious purposes, to accompany prayers to the gods.

 The musician held the harp upright, the wood frame against his chest, and plucked the strings with his fingers. These strings, a modern addition, were probably originally made of gut.

The lack of musical notation system in Egypt and the fact that we do not know the diameter or tension of the original strings means that we cannot have an accurate idea of the type of music produced by the instrument. By working with a replica, however, we were able to deduce that it had an extensive range and a low, muffled sound.

The number of notches on the suspension rod is larger than the number of dowels on the tailpiece, proof that this harp was carefully tuned. - The Louvre


Trigon or Angle Harp, Egypt, 1069-332 BCE, The Louvre. Image courtesy of The Louvre.

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