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Anderson, Otto. PhD. The Bowed-Harp: A Study in the History of Early Musical Instruments. The New Temple Press, London 1930.

Armstrong, R.B. The Irish and Highland Harps. Edinburgh 1904. Re-issued by Irish University Press, Dublin 1969.
This book is available in 2 parts as a private facsimile from in the UK. It is still very good despite its age, and describes in detail the construction and decoration of all the surviving historical wire-strung harps with lots of illustrations. The Irish section has tunes from Bunting, the Scottish section has some Scottish tunes. - Simon Chadwick

Baines, Anthony. The Oxford Companion to Musical Instruments. Oxford University Press, 1992.
There are numerous entries for various types of harps in this book, including earlier instruments such as the lyre and crwth that are often associated with the harp. Mostly text, with few illustrations. I found it useful to cross-reference this with the Oxford Companion to Music (and vise versa).- T.H.

Bunting, Edward. Ancient Music of Ireland. Originally 3 volumes, 1796-1840. Re- issued by Waltons of Dublin in one volume in 1969.
The famous collection that documents the traditional harp music of Ireland, based on Bunting's research, and especially on the Belfast festival of 1792. The last volume (1840) includes numerous notes on the techniques used by the traditional harpers. A description of the first book follows below. For a comparison of the three volumes, see Gráinne Yeats' The Harp of Ireland.- T.H.

Bunting, Edward. A General Collection of the Ancient Irish Music ... Collected from the Harpers etc. in the Different Provinces of Ireland, and Adapted for the Pianoforte. 1996 reprint by Linen Hall Library, Belfast. Originally published by Belfast Society for Promoting Knowledge (Linen Hall) 1796.
Mostly music, but with intro by Bunting. The title is actually even longer, the dots represent where it was edited for space. This is a reproduction of the first book in the above-mentioned series. For more information on this book, click here.- T.H.

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Clemencic, Rene. Old Musical Instruments (transl. By David Hermges). G.P. Putnam's Sons, New York 1968.

Edelstein, Art. Fair Melodies - Turlough Carolan: An Irish Harp. (Comes with with accompanying CD). For more information see the website at

Ellis, Osian. The Story of the Harp in Wales. University of Wales Press, 1991. ISBN: 0-7083-1104-0. Recommended for anyone wanting to know more about the history of Celtic harps, and Welsh harps in particular.

Flood, W.H. Grattan. The Story of the Harp. Longwood Press, Boston 1905.

Fox, Charlotte M. Annals of the Irish Harpers. London, 1911.

Hayward, Richard. The Story of the Irish Harp. London 1954.

Hewett, Margaret. The Small Harp. - see review in "method books". Has a fairly extensive section on the history of the small harp.

Ossian Publications. The Complete Works of O'Carolan. With intro by Gráinne Yeats. Ireland, 1989. (originally published 1984). Mostly music, but with a five-page intro that talks about the life and times of Turlough Carolan (1670-1738).- T.H.

O'Sullivan, D.J. Carolan: The Life, Times and Music of an Irish Harper. 2 vol. Routledge and Kegan Paul, London 1958. Reprinted by Celtic Music, Louth, England, 1983.

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Rensch, Roslyn. Harps & Harpists. Indiana University Press, 1989. ISBN: 0-253-21209-X.
A general harp history book, staring from the most ancient harps and going to modern harps. There is a decent overview of older harps, however the largest and most detailed section is the one covering pedal harps and their development. Especially good for those interested in how the modern (pedal) harp came to be, or for students wanting a general overview of the instrument. For more detailed information on Celtic harps, you can go to one of the culture-specific books listed in this section, since they tend to cover one specific type of harp and its associated culture in detail (i.e. Wales, Ireland, etc.) - T.H.

Rimmer, Joan. The Irish Harp. Mercier Press, Cork 1969.

Roberts, Huw and Llio Rhydderch. Telynorioa Llannerch-y-Medd, or, The Harpers of Llannerch-y-Medd - The Britannia Family and others.(Book and CD).
An interesting look at historical harping families in Wales. Being so specific in its subject, it will most likely appeal to people interested in Welsh culture and history, although it has potential interest for anyone interested in a more personal take on harp history. It will especially appeal to anyone who is either bilingual in Welsh, or learning the language, since the entire book is written in both Welsh and English. I found this slightly distracting at times, but for anyone who is learning the language, having both languages side by side for each section would undoubtedly be beneficial. It begins with a short introduction to Llannerch-y-Medd itself, at one point "one of the most famous villages in Wales". It then goes into the historical background of the harp in Anglesey, followed by a description of the Welsh triple harp. I found these latter two sections quite interesting, since I'm a great fan of the triple harp (even though I don't play it myself). It then goes into a detailed look at the Britannia family and its long tradition of harpists in the family. The book is richly illustrated with numerous old photos and illustrations, which would also be of interest to harp history buffs. Finally, there is a CD included (various artists). - T.H.

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Sanger, Keith and Kinnaird, Alison. Tree of Strings (crann nan teud): a history of the harp in Scotland. Kinmor Music, 1992. ISBN: 0-9511204-4-1. A comprehensive and interestingly written study of the history of the Scottish harp. Recommended for anyone wanting to know more about the history of Celtic harps, and Gaelic harps in particular.

Scholes, Percy A. The Oxford Companion to Music, 10th Edition. Oxford University Press, 1970.
A big, comprehensive book with lots of illustrations. Includes a fair bit of information on harps and other older instruments associated with harps. Since the entries vary in length and detail, I found it helpful to cross-reference this with the Oxford Companion to Musical Instruments (and vise versa).- T.H.

Walker, Joseph C. Historical Memoirs of the Irish Bards. New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1971.

Williams, Sarajane. The Mythic Harp. Info about this book can be found at .

Yeats, Gráinne. The Harp of Ireland: The Belfast Harper's Festival 1792 and the Saving of Ireland's Harp Music by Edward Bunting. "The Belfast Harper's Festival 1792" orig. pub. by Gael linn, Dublin 1980. This revised version pub. by Belfast Harpers' Bicentenary Ltd. 1992.
A compact book filled with many fascinating details about the ancient Irish harping tradition, focusing on the Belfast festival, and including bibliographical information on each of the harpers who played there. Also has chapters on the famous harper-composers of the time, as well as numerous notes on Bunting and his collections. Illustrated. (Ms. Yeats also put out a CD recording of her interpretations of the music from the Belfast Festival; this CD is currently out of print but you may be able to find used copies).- T.H.

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