The Gothic Harp
The next important patent in the development of the harp is Pierre-Orphée Érard’s 1835 patent no. 6962, extending the range of the harp to its modern standard, 46 strings (later 47).1 This patent gave birth to the “Gothic” model harp, whose basic design would be the standard, even among other makers, well into the early half of the 20th century.
The Gothic model harp featured a tripartite column. Both the capitol and base sections were hexagonal, featuring decorative elements typical of the Gothic Revival style. The caryatids of the Grecian had become angels, and the delicate zoomorphic feet of old were replaced by metal gargoyles. The gothic design was universally copied by other harp makers of the time, and would soon become an international standard (see figure 20).
The Gothic harp had 46 (later 47) strings. The two lowest strings (C1 and D1) were not mechanized, their usage being rare enough in the literature that they were re-tuned manually as required. The mechanism functioned much the same as that employed by the Grecian but was expanded to include the larger range. Externally linked fourchettes extended from E1 to A3, internally linked fourchettes from B3 to A4, and independent fourchettes from B4 to E7.
The Gothic model harp was instantly popular and became Érard’s “standard” model. The company would continue to build this model until they ceased production in the 1950s. Although the firm would later introduce several other models, namely the “Louis XVI,” a revival of the 18th century scroll-style, the Empire style, a natural wood harp decorated with brass mounts, and most fascinating, the Japonaise style, designed in imitation of Chinese and Japanese traditional wood carving.