Maurice Ravel -The Swiss Watchmaker

Maurice Ravel was born on March 7, 1875, in the small fishing village of Ciboure in the Basque region, near the Franco-Spanish border.  His father, Pierre-Joseph, was a Frenchman of Swiss descent. Pierre-Joseph, a distinguished engineer, met and fell in love with his future wife, a young and beautiful Basque, Marie Delouart, at the time she worked on the Spanish railways.  A few months after Maurice's birth, the family moved from Ciboure to Paris. The parents of Maurice Ravel, Pierre-Joseph Ravel and Marie Delouart. Maurice had a happy childhood. The parents encouraged their two children - Edouard was born in 1878 - to follow their vocation. Maurice's inclination was music. He started music lessons at the age of seven.  Unlike the parents of other composers, Pierre-Joseph viewed positively the prospect of a musical career and sent Maurice to the France's most important musical college, the Conservatoire de Paris in 1889. In the same year, the Paris Exhibition brought toget

Harp


The sound of the harp has an ethereal quality, which creates the mental image of a divine being playing wavy arppegios, seated in a silver cloud.

There is evidence that the harp has been known in Egypt and Mesopotamia since 3000 BC. In ancient times the harps were generally much smaller than today's. The instrument was then called "lyre". These small buckles rested on the corner of the bent arm. Today's harp is so large that it needs a track base to transport it.

The body of the modern harp is mainly made of maple and its speaker is made of pine. Some very expensive harps are covered with gold leaf and are richly decorated. The harp strings are made of intestines, while the longer strings are wrapped with very thin wire to be more durable. As with the piano, the longer a string is, the lower the note produced. In the harp, due to their apparent uniformity, the strings are painted in different colors depending on the height of the note, to facilitate the performer.

The harp was undoubtedly the most common instrument of voice accompaniment before the keyboards were deployed. The Celtic and Welsh harps have been known for their use in traditional music for centuries, while the contemporary has been a member of the symphony orchestra since the mid-19th century.

How the harp works
The harp is tuned in the key C-flat nd its pitch range extends to a width of about six octaves. The tonality is altered by a mechanism of seven pedals located at its base. At the touch of a pedal the performer can raise the strings by a halftone or a tone. Each pedal affects only one note of the scale, the entire extent of the instrument. In other words, by pressing the pedal of C-flat once, all C-flat strings are tuned C, while pressing it twice are tuned C-sharp.

When the player presses a pedal, a rubber mechanism rotates a series of discs with forks through which the string passes. The fork presses the string reducing its length and the tuning rises by a halftone. Each string goes through two discs and can therefore be raised by two halftones, one for each position of the pedal.




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