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Autoharp

[aw-toh-hahrp] /ˈɔ toʊˌhɑrp/
Trademark.
1.
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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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for Autoharp

Autoharp

/ˈɔːtəʊˌhɑːp/
noun
1.
trademark a zither-like musical instrument used in country-and-western music, equipped with button-controlled dampers that can prevent selected strings from sounding, thus allowing chords to be played. It is plucked with the fingers or a plectrum
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for Autoharp

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 by K.A. Gütter of Markneukirchen, Germany, who called it a Volkszither.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for Autoharp

autoharp

stringed instrument of the zither family popular for accompaniment in folk music and country and western 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

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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