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Jew's harp

From Academic Kids

Jew's harp, from an   camp near
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Jew's harp, from an American Civil War camp near Winchester, Virginia
Jew's harp, , Central Europe
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Jew's harp, Slovakia, Central Europe

The Jew's harp is one of the oldest musical instruments in the world. Called variously a jaw harp, khomuz, kubyz, mungiga, gewgaw, munnharpe, drumbľa , maultrommel, trump, guimbarde or vargan, among other names, it has no particular connection with Jews.

The instrument is a lamellaphone, which is in the category of plucked idiophones: it consists of a flexible metal or bamboo tongue attached to a frame. This tongue is placed in the performer's mouth and plucked with the finger to produce a note. The note thus produced is constant in pitch, though by changing the shape of his or her mouth and the amount of air contained in it the performer can cause different overtones to sound and thus perform simple melodies.

There are many theories for the origin of the name Jew's harp (see the external links below), one being that it may derive from its popularity amongst Eurasian steppe-peoples like the Khazars, perhaps being introduced to Europe from that direction. A likely explanation is that it is a corruption of "jaw harp", while a less likely explanation espoused by some is that its name comes from "juice harp" from the amount of saliva produced while being played.

One example of the Jew's harp in modern music is in the Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Give it Away" on the album Blood Sugar Sex Magik.

External links

fr:Guimbarde nl:Mondharp ja:口琴 pl:Drumla ru:Варган sv:mungiga

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