Autoharp


Autoharp
/aw"toh hahrp'/, Trademark.
a zither having buttons that when depressed damp all strings except those to be sounded, the undamped strings being strummed to produce simple chords.

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German  Akkordzither , Akkordzither also called  Volkszither 
 stringed instrument of the zither family popular for accompaniment in folk music and country and western music (country music). A musician may position the instrument on a table, on the lap while seated, or resting against the left shoulder. An autoharp player strums the strings with a stiff felt or plastic pick held in the right hand or less commonly with the thumb of the right hand, while the left hand operates button-controlled bars that damp all strings except those of the selected chords. Autoharps may be tuned diatonically (i.e., using a scale or scales based on seven steps to the octave) or chromatically (i.e., using 12 semitones to the octave), and the number of chord bars varies from as few as 3 to as many as 27, with 15- and 21-chord models being the most popular. The instrument has been used for teaching simple harmony.

      The Akkordzither was invented by Karl August Gütter of Markneukirchen, Germany. In 1882 a U.S. patent for the autoharp (a modified version of the Akkordzither) was granted to Charles F. Zimmerman, a German emigré. His patent was later acquired by Alfred Dolge (1848–1922), a New York City piano-equipment manufacturer. Dolge distributed the instrument throughout the United States through door-to-door and mail-order sales. However, the instrument known by musicians as the autoharp (and distributed by Dolge) is identical to Gütter's original Akkordzither; Zimmerman's patented autoharp was never put into use by musicians (if indeed it ever was manufactured)—the two instruments are not one and the same.

      In the 1920s Ernest (“Pop”) Stoneman developed an Appalachian folk style of plucking and strumming the strings and began making recordings. The instrument was also made popular by Maybelle Carter (Carter, Maybelle), affiliated after World War II with the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville.

      The Japanese autoharp is based on the nichigenkin, a type of two-stringed koto, and is named taishōgoto after the Taishō period (1912–26), when it was invented. This instrument continues to appeal to amateurs in Japan, as well as in Hawaii, Argentina, and India.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • autoharp — (n.) 1882, name on a patent taken out by Charles F. Zimmermann of Philadelphia, U.S.A., for an improved type of harp, an instrument considerably different from the modern autoharp, actually a chord zither, which was invented about the same time… …   Etymology dictionary

  • Autoharp — Au to*harp, n. [Auto + harp.] A zitherlike musical instrument, provided with dampers which, when depressed, deaden some strings, leaving free others that form a chord. [Webster 1913 Suppl.] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Autoharp —   [englisch, ɔːtə hɑːrp], in den USA verbreitete Version der Zither, von Charles E. Zimmermann konstruiert und 1882 in Washington zum Patent angemeldet, rasche Verbreitung in der frühen Countrymusic. Die Saiten werden über eine Knopfmechanik… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Autoharp — ☆ Autoharp [ôt′ō härp΄ ] [ AUTO + HARP] trademark for a type of zither for playing chordal accompaniments by means of a series of dampers worked by keys n. [a ] such a zither …   English World dictionary

  • Autoharp — An autoharp The autoharp is a musical string instrument having a series of chord bars attached to dampers, which, when depressed, mute all of the strings other than those that form the desired chord. Despite its name, the autoharp is not a harp… …   Wikipedia

  • Autoharp — Die Autoharp ist ein der Zither ähnliches Musikinstrument. Es wird seit dem späten 19. Jahrhundert vorwiegend in den USA in der Bluegrass , Folk und Country Musik verwendet. Der Name Autoharp ist seit 1927 ein eingetragenes Warenzeichen. Autoharp …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Autoharp — trademark used for a zither with button controlled dampers for selected strings …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • autoharp — noun A string instrument having a series of chord bars attached to dampers which mute all the strings other than those that form the desired chord See Also: harp …   Wiktionary

  • autoharp — noun a kind of zither fitted with a series of sprung and padded bars which allow the playing of chords by damping selected strings …   English new terms dictionary

  • Autoharp — Au·to·harp …   English syllables


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