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Jaws Harp (or Jew's Harp)

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Published on Oct 20, 2006

Marion "Poppa" Smith of Ackerman, Mississippi plays the Jaws Harp. Found throughout much of the world from New Guinea to Spain, the Jaws' Harp (or alternatively Jew's Harp) is not a harp at all and it has no historic association with Jewish traditions. Known in the North East as the gew gaw and technically categorized as 'plucked idiophones', these instruments are made from bamboo or more commonly from forged metal (usually iron, sometimes silver). They have a thin frame with either a rectangular, onion/lyre or elongated shape. One end of the frame is closed, the other end left open. Attached to the closed end is a single key or tongue which you pluck with your finger. Usually made from a different material as the frame, it produces a buzzing tone of surprising variety! The instrument was often made by blacksmiths and was specially heated to give a good note. Holding the closed end in your mouth, you can make different pitches and sounds by changing the size and shape of your mouth which acts as a natural resonating chamber. Visit www.PoppasCountry.com today!

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