seems that most performing today is done using amplification.
As it turns out, the harp is a tricky instrument to amplify satisfactorily.
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.
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.
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.
Pickups on each string. This is not 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.
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