aeolian harp


Definition of aeolian harp

: a box-shaped musical instrument having stretched strings usually tuned in unison on which the wind produces varying harmonics over the same fundamental tone

Aeolian Harp Has Roots in Greek Myth

According to the ancient Greeks, Aeolus was the king or guardian of the winds. He lived in a cave with his many, many sons and daughters, and sent forth whatever wind Zeus asked for. When Odysseus stopped there on his way home from Troy, he received a bag of winds to fill his sails. But while he was asleep, his men, thinking it contained treasure, opened the bag and released the raging winds, which blew their ships all the way back to their starting point. An aeolian harp produces enchanting harmonies when the wind passes over it. According to Homer, it was the god Hermes who invented the harp, by having the wind blow over the dried sinews attached to the shell of a dead tortoise.

First Known Use of aeolian harp

1750, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of aeolian harp was in 1750

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Cite this Entry

“Aeolian harp.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Sep. 2020.

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