History of the welsh harp

The triple harp came to Britain during the reign of Charles I, around 1630. It is believed that the first ‘telyn deires’ or triple harp in Wales was made towards the end of the 17th century by Elis Sion Siamas of Llanfachreth near Dolgellau.
The triple harp has a range of five octaves and about 95 strings in three rows. The two outer rows are diatonically tuned in unison, whilst the middle row is tuned to the chromatic notes. The triple harp became popular first of all amongst the Welsh harpists in London. Over the years, its popularity in Wales itself grew so much that it came to be known as the ‘The Welsh Harp’. Dozens of these instruments were made during the 18th and 19th centuries.
The triple harp probably took hold in North Wales initially, but before long it spread to the south, thanks to the enthusiastic support of individuals such as Lady Llanofer, Augusta Hall (1802-1896). During the 18th century, players such as John Parry, the blind harpist from Rhiwabon, came to be known as one of the best harpists of his time, and in the next century ‘Telynor Cymru’ (The Welsh Harpist), John Roberts of Newtown – descended from the Wood gypsy family – was also responsible for spreading the popularity of the instrument.

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