An Acoustic Study of the Jew's Harp


  • Bruno Ravnikar



Descriptions of the Jew's harp up to the present are insufficient from the standpoint of physics. Therefore the author of the article indicates the need for a more exhaustive study of this instrument. By means of higher mathematics the series of overtones of the Jew's harp is calculated. The sound structure agrees closely with the measurements taken on the sonograph. Both methods confirm the assumption of the author that the series of the overtones of the Jew's harp is not a harmonic one, but it presents a non-harmonic distribution with rather scattered overtones. Therefore when playing on this instrument we do not produce individual overtones but we cause a vibration with a forced frequency only of that overtone which is the nearest to the resonance frequency of the oral cavaty. The frequency spectrum of the Jew's harp is continuous and reaches from 500 Hz to 1000 Hz. Besides the modulated frequency a bourdon with its fundamental frequency simultaneously vibrates.


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1. 12. 1970




How to Cite

Ravnikar, B. (1970). An Acoustic Study of the Jew’s Harp. Musicological Annual, 6(1), 99-104.

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