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Reese Witherspoon - what instrument ?
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14th August 2006
Old 14th August 2006
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Reese Witherspoon - what instrument ?

Just watched the movie "Walk the line".

What is the instrument Reese Witherspoon, playing the role of June Carter, is playing ? The hand-held harp-looking instrument.

Where can I get one of them ? Gotta have one.

And then to the embarrassing part... Why do I after 20 years in the biz don't know this ? Is it a traditional southern american instrument and thereby a local thing ? I'm in Europe and never seen one of these before.
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It's an Autoharp!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autoharp


Play one here:

http://www.echonyc.com/~jhhl/aharp.html


Doing it for real is only marginally more difficult. It's like painting by numbers, push the right chord button and strum along.........


The Autoharp was/is also used to great effect by Lyle Mays with the Pat Metheny Group, he usually has a few lying atop his keyboards in live performances. 'Phase Dance' is a good example.
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14th August 2006
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yep, the autoharp belongs to the "zither" family. Zither is sort of a generic and broad term, used to define all the instruments that incorporate strings that extend over a resonant chamber but do not extend beyond that chamber. Mountain Dulcimer, Autoharp, and, broadly speaking, piano and harpsichord are in the zither family....though the term has come to mean the one "without string dampening buttons to produce chords", whereas the autoharp does have chord producing/string dampening buttons. beautiful instrument.
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14th August 2006
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Also,

an autoharp is just about the easiest thing to play. Bitch to tune, though.........

The original Carter Family had Maybelle Guitar on guitar and backing vocal/harmony (she's my personal "guitar god"!!), Sara Carter lead vocal and autoharp, and A.P. Carter backing vocal. Late in her career Maybelle Carter was arthritic (sp?) and no longer able to play guitar, so she played autoharp and was very influential as well on that instrument....
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Back in the 60's John Sebastien of The Lovin' Spoonful also used the autoharp quite a lot.
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Autoharp might be used on the obscure beachboys tune "Marcella".. (I think)
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a very cool instrument. has it got doubled up strings or something? like a twelve string guitar?
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I've had one for years. Picked it up in a car boot for a few quid.

Never used it in seriousness tho'.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PHILANDDON View Post
Also,

an autoharp is just about the easiest thing to play. Bitch to tune, though.........

.
Played correctly it should be fingerpicked, not strummed. Which is not so easy as it looks.

And it really is a bitch to tune!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Norman Lindsey View Post
a very cool instrument. has it got doubled up strings or something? like a twelve string guitar?
some of them do, yes.
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28th August 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by T.RayBullard View Post
yep, the autoharp belongs to the "zither" family. Zither is sort of a generic and broad term, used to define all the instruments that incorporate strings that extend over a resonant chamber but do not extend beyond that chamber. Mountain Dulcimer, Autoharp, and, broadly speaking, piano and harpsichord are in the zither family....though the term has come to mean the one "without string dampening buttons to produce chords", whereas the autoharp does have chord producing/string dampening buttons. beautiful instrument.
here's some information on asian long string zithers if anyone's interested (mainly the guzheng, the chinese zither, but also information about the koto, japanese zither, and kayagum, korean zither): http://www.chinesezither.net/forum/index.php
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If you want to hear a real virtuoso on the instrument (of which there are very few), check out my friend Bryan Bowers at http://bryanbowers.com/
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Another cool "feature" of an autoharp is that is you start on any white button, strum and progress to the next button you'll automatically play "Hey Joe" !!!!

The reason is that the buttons are arranged in fifths.
C / G / D / A / E

June Carter used to have a solo section where she played Hey Joe.
Plugged the autoharp into a set of three Marshalls.
Hendrix stole the whole thing.

DB
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im going to track a girl who plays autoharp. any hints on how to tune this bastard? im going to use a condensor mic on it i think..i have no experience tracking this thing, but it will be fun.
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