Name: Arpa Paraguay or Paraguayan harp.
Type: Harp > Cordophones.
Region: Paraguay > South America.Dimensions: Height 138 cm.
Maker (Luthier): Solomon Samabria, Paraguay.
Date of Manufacture: Circa 1950s.
Acquisition Date: 2007.01.07 Sunday.
Acquisition Source: Rufus Guitars, Vancouver B.C. Canada.
Description: The harp was introduced in Paraguay since the arrival of the Spanish Jesuit missionaries by 17th and 18th centuries. In South America the harp is found through out Peru, Bolivia and Paraguay. The Paraguayan harp is one of the featured instruments in the conjunto (ensemble) who toured widely in South America and Latin America in the 1930s and the 1940s. In playing the Paraguayan harp long fingernails are desired and they are used like picks. Songs composed for the Paraguayan harp are sung in the Indigenous Guarani language. In Paraguay the harp is considered a national instrument in which a festival and national holiday are dedicated to the harp. The modern playing techniques of the Paraguayan harp are attributed to Félix Pérez Cardozo b. 1908 d. 1953. Today private and formal lessons are taught on the Paraguayan harp this also includes university courses.
Tuning the Paraguayan Harp: The tuning of the Paraguayan harp diatonic my specimen has 36 strings. Paraguayan harps are tuned 5 half tones higher in pitch then the orchestral concert harps. My Paraguayan harp is tuned in a diatonic E Major scale.Anatomy of the Paraguayan Harp: The construction of the harp is quite interesting since the tension is distributed from the centre outward, unlike other harps. The design of the Paraguayan harp is light weight desite its tall hight. There is a sound whole located on the bottom of the Paraguayan harp. A pair of hand carved wooden feet are located at the front of the harp for balance. The Paraguayan harp may have up to 30, 36, 38 or 40 strings. Nylon strings are used on the Paraguayan harp from the thickest diameter the bass strings to the mid range or treble to the thinnest diameter strings highest range of strings. The spacing between each string does slightly vary from farthest to closest from each other 11 mm to 14 mm apart.