Dorico 4.0 Harp is now a pitched percussion instrument?

When adding a New Player–Harp, one would choose “Strings” and select “Harp”. But I don’t see a harp. Let’s check “Pitched Percussion”. Aha! There it is! Harp has now migrated to a new instrumental grouping. Is there something awry here or are my orchestration books all wrong?

HAHA! I noticed this too. For me it’s a minor quibble - at least the harp is still there!

almost at perfect pitch

@k_b - HAHA! - “Harpists spend 90 percent of their lives tuning their harps and 10 percent playing out of tune.” - Igor Stravinsky

OK, glad to know it’s not just me!

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Over the years, I have seen references to the harp and the piano being considered as belonging to both the string and the percussion families - string because they have strings and percussion because they are percussed (more or less). Should the harp be considered as being kindred to the guitar? They both have strings which are plucked, as does the harpsichord.

Traditionally, the string section of an orchestra has been regarded as consisting only of those stringed instruments which are bowed. Similarly the saxophone, whose body is made of brass, is not a member of the brass family but is considered to be a woodwind instrument because of the way the sound is produced - with a reed, like a clarinet.

Because an instrument, by virtue of its physical components as well as its method of sound production, can sometimes be thought of as being in more than one “family”, some musicologists (?) have devised terms such as “lip-vibrated aerophone” in an attempt at greater precision. The eyes of the general public tend to glaze over when you use terms like that though, so it is probably easier just to use string, woodwind, brass, keyboard and percussion for starters and then become more pedantic if the need arises.

Classifying the harp as a pitched percussion instrument seems a bit strange to me. The word “percuss” means to “strike forcibly.” I don’t think this is the right way to play a harp (unless you’re mad at it for some reason). :grinning:

I wouldn’t have noticed the change in classification because I always just type the instrument name in the chooser to narrow the selection.

Is this a change? It shows up in Pitched Percussion for me in 3.5 as well.

It’s been there since 1.0. Nothing has changed.


Well, the harp is plucked, or at least caressed. I can’t really manage to consider it a percussion instrument. At least, I’ve never seen an harpist with the same biceps of a typical percussionist!


(I guess the OP and I are experiencing it as a “change” from Sibelius.)

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This is hackable BTW if anyone is really bugged by it. Simply edit your InstrumentFamiliesDefinitions.xml file. Obviously this is unsupported, will be overwritten with any update, and you certainly should backup the original file first, but it’s pretty simple to do. Just add instrument.pitchedpercussion.harp to the Strings category.

Doing the above then results in this:

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It’s always been there in Dorico. It has to do with score order. Keyboards and harp are bundled at the bottom of pitched percussion. As far as percussion being hit, there are many exceptions anyway, such as slide whistle (which is actually pitched), police whistle, wind machine, etc … Harp is not a keyboard, piano and organ are not chordophones, so it makes classification a little fuzzy. No big deal to me anyway!

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