Baby HarpIn contrast to the Guitarra Portuguesa being in existence for merely a couple of hundred years - the Celtic/Gaelic harp (harp, meaning to ‘pluck’), is the oldest known stringed instrument from prehistory.

There is a very old story in Celtic Folk Lore that the idea for the harp was developed from antiquity when a Druid was training a large group of Celtic warriors in their skills of archery. Each time he commanded them to ‘draw’ and then ‘release’ he began to take notice of the rhythmic sounds made by the strings of the bows as they released the arrows into their targets. Some say, this was the birth of the harp.

The earliest (at this point in time) French archeologist evidence is 15,000 years ago; a very distinguishable harp was found in recent times, etched onto a large stone in the South of France.

Further evidence of the harp is from Assyria, Mesopotamia, Babylonia and Phoenicia varying between 8-6,000 years ago. Since these times harps have continuously been found all throughout both sides of the Mediterranean from carvings in the Middle East to sculptures in Greece . And during the time of classical antiquity, there are drawings of the harp being played by Orpheus.

Around 5,000 years ago they appeared frequently in Egypt and are depicted in drawings on the tomb of Pharaoh III. From Egypt the harp travelled to Spain and almost immediately, spreading entirely through Europe. In the pre-Christian period Celtic/Gaelic harps appeared on coins in Gaul. After this they appeared in the Old Testament being played by Jubal and King David.

The British Monarchy attempted to abolish the harp and thousands of harps where destroyed while hundreds of harpists (i.e. bards-fadistas) where unmercifully put to death. This was at the hands of Oliver Cromwell from the direct orders of Queen Elizabeth I during the mid 1600’s.

At the same time the harp became the favourite music of South America as it was introduced their, again by the Spaniards. And today the Celtic/Gaelic ‘baby’ harp will enjoy an explosive resurgence across Portugal as a quality feature of SEVERA! Being the musical highlight of our Fado house entertainment in Celtimanic fado!