King David Harps & Lyres, Davidic Harps, Nevels and Kinnors
I am now able to offer my Kinnors created with Olive Wood from the Holy Land!
A bit of Oral Tradition regarding the Healing Qualities of Ancient Jewish Kinnors and King David:
The young David was called in the night to play his harp before an ailing King Saul. The king had been having nightmares, anger fits and general malaise that was affecting his mind as well as his physical health. When the harp was being played he ‘felt better and the evil spirit departed from Saul”. Powerful words to describe a situation known all too well by many people in our own times.
Harp therapy is a general term used to describe the continuum of types of therapies in which the harp is used. It may be provided at home or in a clinical setting. When therapeutic harp music is played, recipients may receive beneficial effects such as increased relaxation, improvement in sleep, decreased pain and anxiety, stabilization of vital signs, and improvement in mood. An end-of-life music vigil can also help a patient to achieve a peaceful transition.
The servants of King Saul knew that the sounds of the harp were able to have a healing affect on people. They didn’t have the scientific knowledge of why and how, but they did know that something profound happened to people when the harp was played, and so they found the ‘best harpist’ in the land to bring to their ailing king to ease his suffering and bring him moments of peace and well being.
Some of my own Mother`s family tradition:
A part of my Mother`s family is said to have a personal connection to King David, of decent from the House of David. It was my ancestral family, De Nasi (meaning Prince and referring to decent from David), family ancestors who escaped the inquisition in Spain to settle in Venice Italy in the 1400`s, who were regarded as descendants of the House of David. They also used the surname of Mendez/Mendes. They were Court Musicians, Musical Instrument builders and goldsmiths, in the Royal Courts of Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, and James I, in England, with their descendants eventually settling in early Virginia, in the 1600-1700`s.
The Kinnor King David type of Lyre
This type of harp, or more properly Lyre, was played in the time of King David and in Israel’s First & Second Temples periods. Its structure and basic design is known from ancient coins, Biblical descriptions and from Talmudic information. The Kinnor is built in the style of a Lyre, with a double upright neck support for the horizontal neck. This is a ancient traditional Jewish musical instrument, nowadays with it`s playing being renewed in Shabbat services among some Jewish communities around the world. This style of King David Lyre is also used in Christian Davidic services and communities.
Some scholars have decided, and many agree based on the oral and written traditions, that these ancient Kinnors, Davidic Lyres were usually tuned with two different note ranges, from middle C up to E, or from A below middle C, up to A. and with different half step tuning, within this type of note range.
The strings on my Custom Kinnors are nylon as the standard, though for an extra charge gut strings can be used. Custom models with Bronze strings can also be designed and created. Precious metal strings are also possible, please inquire.
I can build these King David Kinnors, and Davidic Lyres out of a number of wood choices, Black Walnut, Figured Maple, Hawaiian Koa wood, Cherry wood, and my favorite, Myrtle wood, which is the same tree as the Biblical Laurel tree. I am started building, as of 2013 building my King David Davidic Lyres from Olive wood from Israel and Italy. If so desired, I may also be able to build a small 22 string Nevel from Jerusalem Olive wood, depending on the sizes of Olive wood that is available to em at any given time.
My wood source in Israel can provide ancient 500 to 1,000 year old olive wood from Jerusalem or Bethlehem, as well as from other locations in the Holy Land. The sizes of the available wood from Israel varies, so at times I will use some Olive wood from Italy in combination with the wood from the Holy land.
I price my King David Lyres and Kinnors individually, according to how large, how many strings, and how much detail carving you may desire. Please email me and tell me what you have in mind.
The price range is usually from a low of $2,500 up to $3,500 and more, if gemstones or precious metals are used or there is extensive carving. Olive wood is rare and more expensive, so for this wood an individual quote will be made depending on the current availability and price. Olive wood usually adds $500 to the price. I can access Olive wood from Jerusalem, Jericho, and Bethlehem. I can also use Olive wood from Italy. Currently, during this Cov-19 pandemic, the Olive wood form The holy Land is not currently accessible. (As of Sept 2020). Perhaps in 2021 this access problem will improve.
The base price for 10 strings, (Middle C, up to E above the next C), in a choice of Myrtle wood, Walnut, Maple, or Cherry wood, with a amazing quality Spruce sound board, is:……………………………………………………………………………………………………$2,500.
Koa wood and Olive wood from Jerusalem ( hard to get, but only from
sustainable source, trees down naturally or being pruned , etc) is more $$.
……………………………………………………………………………………………..For Hawaiian Koa, +$300, and for the Olive wood +$500.
These prices include a low relief Star of David carved on the back, ( or an olive branch) two pieced Star of David sound holes ( Also can be olive branch shaped)on the sound board on the front, with two-toned gold highlighting showing the two different intertwined triangles and the carved sprays of olive leaves on the back of the two necks, (or the olive leaves can be on the front sides of the necks). I have also carved Dove of Peace in relief or as a cut-out sound hole, And have also carved Temple Menorahs on the back of my Lyres. Please let me know what you have in mind?
Actual carved lettering, depending on length and complexity, English or Hebrew is more, from:………………………. +$200 to +$600.
I have also carved other images, rather then the Star of David on the back, such as a menorah in the shape of a tree, of a Dove of Peace and then olive leaf shaped front sound holes.
I can also carve the two necks into spiraling organic shapes, sort of like Ram`s horns. For a Kinnor, King David, Davidic Lyre, carved with the two spirals, and the David Star on the back and front Star sound holes, the price is :……………………………..$3,800.
As with all my custom harp orders, a $500 down payment, will get the project going, with a full sized drawing sent to you on paper, or as an digital photo if that is easier, for your approval, showing the desires design elements/carving you may wish. This design down payment is part of the total price, but is not refundable, in the case of an order being canceled after the design/drawing is created.
I look forward to bringing your Dream King David Kinnor to Life for you, please email or call with further questions !:-) Shalom !
Harp in Pictures above: This is a 10 string King David or Davidic Lyre-Kinnor, carved from Myrtle wood and Engelmann Spruce. The raised relief carved Hebrew letters spell out ” Sing a New Song Joy, Praise-be”. The carving on the back is of two olive branches and a raised relief Star of David. There is a carved-out generous sized sound chamber inside the body. Some of the carving and the sound holes are highlighted with gilding.
This example of my work was designed to be a bit larger than some of the others. Since we do not know precisely the exact dimensions of the ancient Lyres, and undoubtedly they varied from builder to builder, just as do other folk instruments, I feel quite comfortable in building my King David and Davidic Kinnors to custom fit the needs of the player. The Kinnors made especially to play the music of the ancient Temple in Jerusalem, may have been more similar to each other, in one specific style, but without any surviving examples, we will never know for sure.
Harp shown above: Carved Black Walnut David 10 string kinnor, with both necks carved like twisted Ram`s Horns. There is a gold mounted diamond, set into the center of the Star of David carving on the back of this Kinnor. This Kinnor is about 26.5 inches tall, 12 inches wide and 2 inches thick, with the tuning peg area, at the top end being about 3 inches.
Harp shown above: Carved Black Walnut King David 10 string kinnor, with both necks carved with the Jewish prayer, The Shamah.. There is a gold mounted diamond, set into the center of the Star of David carving on the back of this Kinnor. This Kinnor is about 26.5 inches tall, 12 inches wide and 2 inches thick, with the tuning peg area, at the top end being about 3 inches. The sound board is 35 year, air-dried Engelmann spruce.
The Nevel Harp
In the Ancient Eastern Mediterranean world of the time of King David, there were various type of “harps” or “Lyres” being played by different peoples in the region. These different cultures and Peoples had quite a bit of cultural interactions and trade, likely resulting with the influences of these different style of string instruments being adopted and shared widely.
Some of these instruments were similar to a modern lap harp, with a sounding box and a two part frame. This harp style resembles the Celtic lap harp in some ways. This style of harp can be seen in marble statues of seated harp players, holding the harp in their arms, from the Greek Cycladic Islands. So the Ancient Jewish Nevel Harp, may have been of this form, though there are quite different opinions on this.
Some say it was usually built with 22 strings, to correspond to the number of letters in the Hebrew Aleph-Bet, strung with strings made from gut, or in some cases could possibly been strung with wire strings made from bronze, and perhaps gold and silver. Making very finely drawn metal wire was a skill that was practiced, but due to the lack of any example from this distant time, metal strings are only a guess.
There is much serious scholarship on these questions, and I do not claim to be building exact replicas at all, but to seek to build beautiful sounding and beautiful to look at musical instruments that can evoke the ancient Jewish instruments.
These harps I can build with the 22 strings matched up with the 22 letter of the Hebrew Aleph-Bet. The note range is three octaves, from Middle C to C, two above middle C. Nylon strings are standard, but gut strings can be used at an extra charge. Bronze strings can also be used, and precious metal strings are possible, please inquire about them.
I build these Nevels the same basic way I build all my harps, of all solid hardwood and Spruce, with five sided rounded staved sound boxes, with all pieces book-matched. The back sound holes can be custom carved in the shape of shooting stars, olive branches, or many other shapes. I can carve the letters of the Alep-Bet next to the corresponding note, on the string rib as well.
The detail of the neck and pillar can incorporate many types of carving, in Hebrew prayers, olive branches, carved Doves of Peace or any other inspired image you may see in your Dreams and Prayers. For example, the entire neck at the top of the Nevel can be carved like a range of hills in Israel, with detailed carving of olive groves and villages tucked in the folds, and with a stream flowing down onto the fore-pillar, cascading down and around to the base of the harp.
For a Custom 22 string Nevel, with the Aleph-Bet carved into the string rib next to the corresponding string, custom shaped back sound holes, and two small carved and gilded, star of David sound holes in the sound board, nylon strings and a full set of Loveland sharping levers, the price is $2,700.
Built from a combination of Olive wood from Israel and Italy, with a Spruce sound board, the price is $3,500.
For gut strings, and for extra carving of Hebrew Prayers and lettering, olive branches and more, I will quote each project individually. As with all my custom harp projects, I will produce a full sized drawing for your approval, before I start to build.
I can build these type of Harps-Nevels and Lyres-Kinnors for you, in almost any size and number of strings, though some scholars point to the ancient Israeli harps as perhaps having 10 strings for the Kinnor, which has a symbolic importance in Jewish Mystical beliefs,( Ten Commandments, the Ten Plagues, the Ten Sepheroth in the body), and 22 strings for the Nevel, which corresponds to the number of letters in the Aleph-Bet.
A small Kinnor, to be easily playable, is best not strung with more than 15 strings. A triangular King David harps can be built with from 19 up to 43 strings. Both styles can be shaped and decorated with carving and inlay work in many different ways that can bring the theme and feeling of King David`s music to life in your hands !
Please let me know what you have in mind, almost any variation or custom design is possible!:-) Each custom project like this is priced individually.
Harp shown here above: Custom 15 string Kinnor. Myrtle wood with Spruce sound board. Five pointed stars, and inset natural rounded quartz pieces inset into the wood surface. This Kinnor is about 26.5 inches tall, 12 inches wide and 2 inches thick, with the tuning peg area, at the top end being about 3 inches. The sound board is 35 year, air-dried Engelmann spruce.
Thank you for coming to visit my Harp Pages, please let me know how I can bring your Dream Harp to Life !
Follow your Bliss, and live your Life in Joy!
Glenn J. Hill