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bwaaangg-boing-boing
August 17, 2006 8:16 AM   Subscribe

genggong, khomus, guimbarde, trumpi... Not ringing a bell? How about Jew's Harp? Though neither a harp nor associated with Jewish tradition, that's the name that stuck in the New World. Call it what you will, this ingenious little instrument is played all over the planet. It's the focus of at least one yearly festival, and there's no shortage of great players out there twanging and boinging away. The instrument has a looong history stretching from antiquity to house music. In certain parts of the world its playing is the province of women only, and yes, they've been known to make the camels cry. Unsurprisingly, they've found their way onto the beloved YouTube in extreme close-up glory. BOINNNNGGG!! (Note: some links go direct to bwaaaang-y audio or video)
posted by flapjax at midnite (21 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
I used to carry one around just so I could make a BOOIINNGG noise when needed.

Great instrument. I need to buy another one.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:26 AM on August 17, 2006


As a kid, some of my best TV memories were of watching Snoopy play this while riding on a bus.
posted by thanotopsis at 8:32 AM on August 17, 2006


I always thought it was a "juice harp." They sure are fun to play, though. When you get the resonance just right, it vibrates your entire skull.
posted by ijoshua at 8:35 AM on August 17, 2006


These guys had about half a dozen different juice harps that they played when I saw them in 1999. Pretty damn amazing, especially in conjunction with throat-singing.
posted by dersins at 8:41 AM on August 17, 2006 [1 favorite]


obligatory link to Clayton Bailey and his fantastic collection
posted by hortense at 9:05 AM on August 17, 2006


I helped train myself the Tuvan/Mongolian art of throat singing with a Jew's Harp.
posted by Ekim Neems at 9:36 AM on August 17, 2006


via Boing Boing?
posted by QuietDesperation at 9:44 AM on August 17, 2006


No mention of the Jew's harp is complete without bringing up J.M. Nasim's Psychedelic Jew's Harp project.
posted by leapfrog at 10:03 AM on August 17, 2006


The local pawn shop that specializes in musical instruments is run by a Jewish couple, and I'm wondering if there's some other name by which I can ask for one of these?
posted by pax digita at 11:58 AM on August 17, 2006


Fun post flapjax at midnite. Amused by juice harp. Had no idea the link between the Jews Harp and throat singing. Enjoyed the Psychedelic Jew's Harp music by Nasim, thanks leapfrog.
posted by nickyskye at 12:39 PM on August 17, 2006


great post. love the jew's harp. there is a de la soul song that has a jew's harp sample, i believe on "stakes is high." i'd like to know how often the jew's harp comes into play in hip hop.
posted by 8 Bit at 12:49 PM on August 17, 2006


The local pawn shop that specializes in musical instruments is run by a Jewish couple, and I'm wondering if there's some other name by which I can ask for one of these?

Don't worry. It's no more offensive than the plant that's called the wandering jew. It's not like the instrument is called a sheeny harp.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:55 PM on August 17, 2006


Yay! I love my jew's harp. A nice big "BOOOOIIIIINNNGG" on the phone is a sure-fire way to get the person on the other line to say "WTF".

It's also great to have around when a soundsystem turns off. I call it my acoustic 303.
posted by redteam at 2:04 PM on August 17, 2006


Daniel Higgs - Magic Alphabet
posted by zoinks at 2:25 PM on August 17, 2006


"No mention of the Jew's harp is complete without bringing up J.M. Nasim's Psychedelic Jew's Harp project."

No mention of the Jew's harp is complete, period. There's such an enormous amount of traditions, styles and players out there! As it happens, I did know about Nasim: I think his stuff is cool. Thanks for posting the link to him! I was assuming that there'd be lots of links included in comments on this thread, which is half the fun of maing comments! Thanks to everyone so far for posting additional jaw harp links. I'm hoping for more!

Well, here's one to a fantastic player from India, Bharadwaj.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:52 PM on August 17, 2006 [1 favorite]


Oh wow flapjax, amazing jews harp music from Bharadwaj! AMAZING.

More Nasim. Cute little video of a girl playing a jew's harp. Jew's harp accessories.Sound clip of a Kalahari mouth bow.
posted by nickyskye at 11:12 PM on August 17, 2006


Another neat site, Aspiration, with some cool sound clips.
posted by nickyskye at 11:28 PM on August 17, 2006


"amazing jews harp music from Bharadwaj! AMAZING."

ISN'T HE?! I mean, damn! Gotta get that CD of his. And lucky for us we get to hear so much of him on his site.

And yeah, the mouth bow, you know, I was thinking of throwing some bow links onto my jaw harp post, since it's obviously related and all, and I'm a big fan of the instrument, but it would've gotten insane, what with the number of links. I'm thinking about doing a mouthbow post sometime, though.

Speaking of bows, last time I was in the states I bought one, a really nice sounding, resonant, tunable one. From these folks. Actually, I got in touch with the guy making them and ordered one that's a bit shorter than the usual model, for easier portability. It sounds really good.

Hey, and thanks for all the other links!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 12:14 AM on August 18, 2006


Hungarian jew's harps, very good quality and value for money. Buy a good harp, a real instrument, if you are interested in playing because most of the music stores sell only shitty toys capable of producing only a "BOINNNGG" without sustain or the harmonics that make this instrument truly interesting. (I've got about 20 of their harps.)

Here is some Finnish "munniharppu"-music played by Tapani Varis.
posted by hoskala at 12:47 AM on August 18, 2006


Some Norwegian munnharpa playing.

The oddest jews's harp record I've heard lately was made by Harvey Matusow of McCarthy-era "fame". (via WFMU)
posted by hoskala at 1:04 AM on August 18, 2006


Glad you liked the links flapjax. :)

Thanks for your excellent additional links.Great to have the luxury of a long stretch of Bharadwaj music on his site.

The Reeded MouthBow by Wayland Harman is both a beautiful, musical instrument to look at and good music. I like his playing at the 2000 Jew Harp Festival.

Cool info hoskala!
posted by nickyskye at 6:50 PM on August 18, 2006


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