William Lawes’s Harp Consorts are scored for violin, bass viol, theorbo and harp; however, scholars disagree whether Lawes composed for the gut-strung triple harp or the wire-strung Irish harp. In this article, the three harp sources of the collection, in the Bodleian and Christ Church libraries, Oxford (GB-Ob, Mus. Sch. MSS B.3 and D.229; GB-Och, Mus. 5), are examined to determine the harp range. The results suggest that Lawes composed for a retuneable, partly-chromatic Irish harp with at least 38 strings. Lawes’s Harp Consorts are also discussed in relation to other harp consorts.


  • Irish harp; William Lawes; source studies; Music and culture in England
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147–176
Number of pages29
JournalGalpin Society Journal
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2008
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