Welcome to Soundtree Harps
This is the website of Neil Craig, a Scottish maker of therapeutic and ‘organic’ wooden lyres.
The majority of the lyres I make are from customer requests and come in various shapes and sizes. The lyres are created by hand from one piece of wood with no joints involved. This allows the sound vibrations to pass through the instrument freely. A frame is cut out from the timber plank and birch plywood glued on creating a soundbox. The different shapes are inspired by historic classic lyre designs with a touch of my own design inspiration. I use seasoned kiln dried Scottish timber and make them in the small town of Forres, Scotland, UK where I live.
Some of my lyres have traditional harp or zither pins fitted for tuning, others have broken from tradition and feature guitar tuners. These can make tuning a bit easier and more precise and also increase the string spacing.
All the lyres are strung with acoustic guitar strings which makes finding replacement strings simple. Before stringing I apply linseed oil which soaks into the wood and brings out the deep grain patterns, then I apply thin layers of a blended oil which hardens and gives a protective coating. All lyres come with tuning and string gauge information. A custom fit bag with handles in a choice of colours is also available.
Making Pentatonic Lyres, just play!
I have recently been focusing on making pentatonic tuned lyres. This oriental sounding scale allows the player to interact with the lyre in a completely different way. The 5 notes in the scale are all best friends with each other, in harmony with each other. This takes away the need to know which string to play next, as any one will sound great. This can be tremendously freeing. Playing then becomes more about listening and feeling, rhythm, muscle memory and harmony allowing the thinking mind to take a back seat. This has a therapeutic effect on the player as they are no longer constantly engaged with the mental process and creates relaxation. Thinking actually uses a lot of energy and can create tension, especially if one is trying very hard. Stroking the lyre strings and hearing lovely notes singing together brings a sense of inner harmony, builds confidence and a feeling of hope.
Ok, you might be asking yourself, where are the harps? I have found most people relate to the word ‘harp’ and not so much ‘lyre’, so I have borrowed it for convenience, even if technically my creations are lyres, as the strings are parallel to the soundboard. ‘Chordophones’ doesn’t really slip of the tongue very easily! I apologise if you came here looking specifically for harps!