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An image of a claviharp from the 1891 Scientific American

The claviharp is a 19th-century musical instrument which combined the harp with a keyboard. The instrument was invented by J. C. Dietz in 1813 CE.[1] His grandfather was one of the first manufacturers of upright pianos, and being struck with the difficulties and defects of the harp, constructed in 1810 an instrument à cordes pincées à clavier - the strings connected with a keyboard.

The instrument was made to address the limitations of the harp; the susceptibility of its catgut strings to atmospheric change, the inconsistency of sound as finger motion varies, its limited diatonic scale (unless pedals are used), and its lack of dampers. On the claviharp, a keyboard was added to the harp, which plucked the strings (as a harpsichord) rather than strike them (as a piano).


The claviharp used metal strings covered with an insulating material, in order to stay better in tune.[1] Its keyboard was the same as that of other keyboard instruments, so permitting the playing of chromatic scales. The instrument had two pedals, one of which could be used to sustain or dampen the strings, while the second divided certain strings into two equal parts in order to give harmonic octaves. The instrument was much lighter than a piano, and thus more easily transportable.


  1. ^ a b William Chambers; Robert Chambers (1888). Chambers's journal. W. & R. Chambers. pp. 268–. Retrieved 18 April 2012.