Is A Harp A Percussion Instrument

Is A Harp A Percussion Instrument? Harp Instrument Family

Is a harp a percussion instrument? What is a percussion instrument? Why is it mistaken or not as a percussion instrument? Are there many types of harps used around the world? If you are curious about whether the harp is a percussion instrument or not, you better join us as we are going to make some discussion about why many people think of it as a percussion instrument.

So, before we discuss whether a harp is a percussion instrument or not, let me first explain what a percussion instrument is. A percussion instrument is a type of instrument that is either able to produce when its membrane is stretched from being hit or able to produce a sound through its own vibration.

So, is a harp a percussion instrument? As one of the unique instruments you can see around the world, the harp can be classified as a member of two families: percussion and strings. So, why does it belong to the string family? First, if you have already seen a harp, you know it is played by plucking its strings. Unlike other stringed instruments that have only less than ten strings, the harp has 47 strings to play with, making it one of the most difficult musical instruments to learn.

But why can it also be under the family of percussion instruments? When playing the harp, you are also playing a rhythmic and supportive role, and as you sit down while playing by plucking the strings, it also produces sound from its vibrating strings and resonator body. So, when you are asked whether the harp is a percussion instrument, just say yes.

Types Of Harp

Level Harp

Considered to be one of the most common harps that you can see in the market today, the level harp is known for its levers placed on the instrument’s neck at the top of each string. As you play two different notes on each string, you can also shift the note of the string to the flat, sharp, or natural with the levers.

Because of its setup, it is usually used by novice harpists rather than those professional ones. It is also a little bit difficult to change the levers when you are playing a difficult piece of music, as this is the main reason why it is usually only used for beginners, as it is also cheaper than the other harps available in the market.

Pedal Harp

Another common type of harp that you can see around the world is the pedal harp. It uses pedals instead of levers, making it easier to shift the note of a string by just using feet, so you can play more difficult pieces of music. This is the reason why it is used more by advanced harpists rather than those novice ones.

In this type of harp, there are seven pedals that are placed at the bottom of the end of the musical instrument. They are connected to the discs of the harp’s neck, so you can easily change the pitch from a natural position to a flat or sharp tone. The pedal harp has 47 strings and seven strings per octave. All in all, the pedal harp is also expensive for many, which is why most professional players are only the ones who are using it.

Wire Harp 

When it comes to more modern harps, the wire harp would be a great example as it uses wire strings rather than the more common nylon strings that typically see on harps. They are easier to play with, and they are also known to produce a more powerful sound with a bell-like tone, which is why more and more manufacturers are producing this type of harp.

As considered by many as a Gaelic harp, the wire harp is also known for its durability, so you can expect it to last for a long time, which is a nice feature, especially since there are only a limited number of people who know how to repair or maintain a harp. However, playing the wire harp can be a little different compared to the traditional harp, as they are played by using nails instead of fingers. Lastly, you can see many wire harps played in Celtic and Irish music.

Latin American Harp

The Latin American Harp is a kind of harp that can only be seen in Latin American countries, such as Paraguay and Venezuela nowadays, as it is also called by many the Paraguayan harp. This type of harp comes in a different number of strings, from 32 to 46. They are usually made of tropical woods, such as cedar and pine, and are famous for their rounded-neck arches.

It has harmonic curves that allow four-tone ranges, from brilliant at the top to clear to soft to muted sounds. This harp is also usually played using fingernails, and they are very lightweight, which makes them very easy to bring with them. Although the Latin American Harp is known for its distinct sound, there are only a few nowadays that are using this beautiful musical instrument.

Electric Harp

If you are looking for the latest development nowadays, the electric harp is maybe the one you are going to find. Equipped with wire strings, they are now widely used by many musicians from different levels of experience, whether beginner or professional, because of their features. As it has its own amplification system, is easy to use, and is able to deliver a great sound just like a traditional harp, there are really more and more harpists trying out the electric harp. It is also available in a lever or pedal setup.


Africans also have their own version of the harp, and it is called Udungu, which is usually used in playing Ugandan music. This small harp comes with seven to ten strings, depending on its setup, and has an arched top. It is made out of a hollowed-out slab of wood and is covered using leather that also serves as the instrument’s soundboard. This type of harp also comes with different types of ranges, from alto to tenor, to bass. Its strings are stretched diagonally from its tuning pegs on the harp’s curved wooden neck to the end part of its body.


If there is from Latin America and Africa, of course, there is also the harp in Asia, and it is called the Saung. The Saung is the national instrument of Cambodia and is considered by many as the only surviving harp on the continent. This harp has a horizontal design and comes with long curved necks and a string bar that is connected to the top of the harp.

The Saung is usually often equipped with 13 to 16 strings that are usually made of silk; however, you can also now find some that are made of nylon. Based on history, this harp is considered to be one of the most important royal instruments, as they were only used in royal courts until the 19th century.

So, is a harp a percussion instrument? Yes, the harp is a percussion instrument, as it is able to produce a sound from its vibrating strings and resonator body and is also played in a rhythmic type of playing.