Chromatic harp

This cross-stringed harp is characterized by a wide range of dynamic and technical possibilities. In particular, the wide string spacing allows for fluid finger playing on the 6/6 string setting.


  • Number of strings: 61 crossed strings in 6/6 system according to Chr. Pampuch
  • Stringing: carbon / steel
  • Range: 5 complete octaves
  • Lever mechanics: not applicable
  • Size: 145 cm
  • Weight: 13 kg

Price: on request

different height legs on request

What is a chromatic harp?

There are several types of chromatic harps. 
The characteristic of a chromatic harp is that each tone of the chromatic scale (12 tones per octave) (12 notes per octave) has its own string, while diatonic harps have only seven strings per octave for the 7 root notes, and the sharps (#) and flats (or chromatic notes) are created by shortening the strings (lever harps, pedal harps). 
There are chromatic harps with several parallel or crossing rows of strings, and now also a single-row chromatic harp (France). 
While chromatic harps with parallel string rows are reached through string levels to reach the string level behind them, cross-stringed harps are easily reached from both sides.

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The history of the cross-stringed chromatic harp

Spanish Renaissance:

The first cross-stringed harp was probably built in Spain in the late 16th century and is called "arpa de dos ordenes". 

It was played in both liturgical and secular music, and was widely used until the late 17th century. 

It was replaced in court music by French and Italian musical instruments, such as the harpsichord or the lute, and thus fell into oblivion. The English harp virtuoso Andrew Lawrence-King contributed a lot to the revival of this instrument and the repertoire of that time.

French Romanticism:

Pleyel & Wolff in Paris built a cross-stringed harp according to the proportions of the pedal harp. It was designed by Gustave Lyon and known as "harpe chromatique". One row of strings has the 7 root notes (white keys of the piano), the other has the 5 chromatic notes (black keys). Claude Debussy composed for this instrument. 

This instrument was taught at the Brussels Conservatory of Music until a few years ago (most recently under Francette Bartholomée). However, since production ceased in the 1930s, there was no supply of instruments for the time being. Today, the Belgian Vanessa Gehrkens is trying to save this beautiful harp from extinction.

Modern cross-string harps:

The 7/5 cross-stringed harp is reproduced in smaller versions, especially in America; those who are familiar with the piano can easily find their way around this type of harp.
Independently of each other, the 6/6 harp was developed in Germany (by Christoph Pampuch) and in America. A detailed article on this can be found on Christoph Pampuch's website Here the chromatic semitones are raised one after the other without favoring a key. One can also say: here two whole tone rows offset by a semitone cross each other.

Thus the fingering for the same chords is the same (unlike the piano) and one can see through structures within the music (which are not so clear even with the usual notation, since this also works with diatonic plus auxiliary tones). This instrument is ideal for modern music, jazz music, music that modulates a lot. Because of its simplicity and symmetry, the instrument is much less vulnerable (no bent harp neck due to one-sided load, no rattling tuners that make the instrument heavier and need to be adjusted). There are several harp makers who now make chromatic harps.

Henrik Schupp's chromatic harp is characterized by a full and overtone-rich sound, a wide range of dynamic and technical possibilities due to wide string spacing.
With 5 octaves (61 strings) it has a range like a big celtic harp and is still transportable.

Many thanks to Rheidun Schlesinger for writing this article.