The Mouth-harp

 

The mouth-harp is thought to have originated in Asia where the earliest versions were made of wood or bamboo. In Europe, the earliest known were found in East-France . In 1868 five mouth-Harp made of bronze were discovered in Rouen . These mouth-harp probably originated in the Gaelic/Roman era (500 through 700 AD). mouth-harp were also uncovered in Germany and these date to the year 1399 when the castle "Tannenberg" in Hessen was destroyed by Fire. In 1848 three mouth-harp were found in the remains of this castle.

This instrument became popular again in Germany during the feudal period. They were fabricated by craftsman who understood how to work this metal and such craftsman were found in the towns of Zella-Mehlis, Suhl, Schmalkalden, and Salzungen. In 1645 a Salzunger townsman petitioned the town leaders to approve his crafting of mouth-harp so that he could practice this skill.

The mouth-harp disappeared from popular music at the beginning of the industrial revolution, but experienced a resurrection with the renewal of interest in Folk music and instruments of earlier times. Until about 1930 mouth-harp were sold in Thuringia, and were found primarily in shops that specialized in souvenirs, gifts or those that sold children toys. In 1930 they were listed in and could be purchased from the catalogue of the Zimmermann music shop in Zella-Mehlis.