Harp. A musical instrument of the String kind; being of a triangular figure, and placed on end between the legs to be played on. Menage derives the word from the Latin harpa, and from the German harpe. Others bring it from the Latin carpo, because touched or thrummed with the fingers. This instrument is struck with the finger and thumb of both hands. Its music is much like that of the spinnet, all its strings going from semitone to semitone: whence some call it an inverted spinnet. It is capable of a much greater degree of perfection than the spinnet. All authors agree that it is very different from the lyra, cithara, or barbiton used among the Romans. Notwithstanding all the improvements of sounding-board, pedals, etc, the harp is at best but an imperfect instrument.
Spinnet, from spina;, thorns, a stringed instrument, apparently derived from the harp, and superseded by the harpsichord, which is an improvement of it. The spinnet may be considered as the original ancestor of our modern pianoforte. It conits of a number of harp-strings stretched horizontally on a frame, and played by means of keys, which set in motion little teeth, or hooks, like those on a child's "musical cart." These little hooks produce a musical twang. They were in due time superseded by quills, when the spinnet in its improved shape obtained the name of
Harpsichord. A musical instrument of the string kind, played upon after the manner of an organ. It is furnished with a set, and sometimes with two sets, of keys: the touching or striking of these keys moves some little jacks, which strike the chords or strings. The strings are composed of brass or iron, and are stretched over four bridges, as they are called, placed within the instrument. Harpsichords are now only to be found among collections of old curiosities ; they have quite gone out of use.