Unformatted text preview: The harp
Arnaut de Zwolle stated that his clavisimbalum could be strung with either brass or iron, and both metals
are indeed credible possibilities, both having been made in Europe since at least the twel3h century.
Denzil Wraight’s summary of materials mentioned in the few sources from the thirtheenth, fourteenth,
and 23eenth centuries which refer to the stringing of harps and psalteries also includes gold, silver,
copper, bronze, brass, iron, and steel.21 Many of these metals, however, such as gold, silver, and pure
copper, are not suited to support any reasonable amount of tension inde2nitely, especially under the
additional extension of excitation and oscillation, and therefore the terminology must be taken as an
indication of color rather than of material. 6us ‘gold’ could only have been brass, while ‘silver’ most likely
would have referred to the color of iron.22 Paulus Paulirinus (c. 1460) speci2es that the clavisimbalum
had ‘cordas metallinas’, and Tinctoris (c. 1487) said that the cittern could be strung with either brass or
steel.23 Considering the superior durability of iron over brass, as well as the purer tone in the upper
octaves allowed by a longer scale, we decided to employ iron strings. ...
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