Door harps are a type of zither, which are designed to produce pleasant sounds upon entry to a room. When the door harp is affixed to a door that swings open and shut, strings come into contact with the swinging pendulum strikers to produce a pleasant greeting chime. Although the original superstition behind them was to repel evil spirits, door harps have come to signify welcome, luck, health, and prosperity to all that pass through the door.
While the door harp is generally associated with Scandinavian culture (mainly in Sweden, but also Norway, Finland, and Denmark), it has likely existed in similar forms for much longer. Door harps are said to have been inspired by the Chinese Feng Shui tradition of hanging bells or chimes by doors and windows to bring good energy in and let bad energy out. Chinese zither instruments including the guqin and ruǎn could also have influenced the development of the door harp. The Scandinavian design replaced bells with strings and beads, and the cheery sound of the chiming zither can brighten the mood in any space.
The door harp is fairly simple in construction, with a flattened hollow soundbox made of hardwood and strung with metal strings that are typically tuned to a chord. Choice of chord is somewhat flexible, and the metal pegs can be turned to tighten and loosen the strings. Most door harps have 3 or more strings, traditionally made of braided silk, but typically wire on modern door harps. When jostled, the wooden balls swing outwards and come into contact with the strings to create beautiful and harmonious tones.
Door harps can be placed in nearly any location, and they make for a beautiful addition to any space, but placing them on on a moving surface can bring some musical cheer when jostled. Placing one on the inside of a front door will create a joyful sound each time someone enters. Hanging it indoors also has the advantage of protecting it from the elements, which could cause the wood to warp and the strings to go out of tune as temperature and humidity levels fluctuate. Because of their whimsical and cheery quality, they make a fun addition to nearly any living space, and make wonderful gifts.We offer a selection of door harps in our online store (click to view), mainly sourced from Todd Preimsberg of Moon Mountain, based in Oregon's Willamette Valley. These beautiful door harps (view video sample here) make use of figured cherry and walnut as well as more exotic woods for the inlayed designs, which feature mountain and moon motifs.