Journey to the Magical Land of ‘Floating Strings'

'Tis the season to know the harp guitar better, at the Museum of Making Music.

WHILE THE SOUND OF AN INSTRUMENT... can often summon particular memories for a person, from days driving to the beach to nights spent in the backyard, no one would dare say that certain instruments belong to certain seasons alone. Even if a ukulele reminds you of the backyard and summertime, the uke's panache-filled twang can seem just as sweet on an icy January day. And if the beach drives of your youth make you think of drums, well, drums are percussively perfect in any weather, at any point on the calendar, and that is true. So to say that the harp guitar can have a sophisticated, gentle, yuletide-cool vibe is accurate, but the gifts of the string-lovely instrument spans far beyond the Christmas season. You'll hear the harp guitar on all sorts of recordings, whether they involve carols or not, and the songs will likely take on a bit of enchantment, some depth, and emotional beauty thanks to the marvelously shaped instrument. Want to know more about it? Best take a wondrous journey into...

FLOATING STRINGS, an exhibit on now at The Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad. The show isn't just on through the holiday; rather, it'll be open through April 29, 2018, so you have time, if the end of the year has you running. And if the end of the year has you running, you surely need some time listening to some harp guitar, a centering act of the most soundful and soulful sort. "Over 40 harp guitars" are on display at the center, with a focus on the history of "the forgotten instrument." The "floating strings" of the centuries-old instrument have helped to inspire "the inventiveness of players and builders," and that inventive spirit shines through at "Floating Strings: The Remarkable Story of the Harp Guitar in America." Want to know more about the instrument's rise back in a 30-year period that spanned from 1890 to 1920? Want to see more than a few up-close? Have to know more about those somewhat surreal strings that don't typically have a traditional guitar neck to rest against? Looking for a new instrument to take up, try out, master, or love as a listener? Carlsbad is the spot for a satisfying dive into an instrument that brings the gentle and moving strums in myriad ways.

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