jaw's harp

Encyclopedia Britannica
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jaw's harp

musicalmusical instrument consisting of a thin wood or metal tongue fixed at one end to the base of a two-pronged frame. The player holds the frame to his mouth, which forms a resonance cavity, and activates the instrument's tongue by either plucking it with the fingers or jerking a string attached to the end of the instrument. The notes produced are limited to the fourth through tenth tones of the harmonic series (in relative pitch, c-e-g-b [approximately]-c'-d'-e'). The tongue produces only one pitch; altering the shape of the mouth cavity isolates the individual harmonics that are components of the tongue's sound. In 18th-century Europe virtuoso players used instruments with two or more tongues of different pitch, thus allowing a complete musical scale

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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