61. Tabret and Harp

 •  2 min. read  •  grade level: 10
1. The word toph, here and in other places rendered “tabret,” and in a number of texts translated “timbrel,” represents a very ancient musical instrument of percussion. There are three varieties depicted on the Egyptian monuments: one circular, another square or oblong, and a third consisting of two squares separated by a bar. Over these frames parchment was stretched, and in the rim were small bells or pieces of tinkling brass. The toph was used on occasions of joy, and was generally played by women, and often accompanied by dancing. It is reproduced in the “tambourine” which is occasionally seen in the streets of our large cities in the hands of itinerant musicians as an accompaniment to the barrel-organ.
2. The word kinnor, which frequently occurs in the Old Testament, and is translated “harp,” has given rise to considerable discussion. It was undoubtedly the earliest musical instrument made (Gen. 4:2121And his brother's name was Jubal: he was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ. (Genesis 4:21)), though some suppose that the text referred to is meant to show that Jubal was the inventor of stringed instruments generally, without referring to any particular kind. As to the shape of this ancient instrument there is no certainty. It has been variously represented by different writers as shaped like the lyre, the Greek letter 4, the guitar, and the modern harp. There is equal variety of opinion as to the number of strings. Seven, ten, twenty-four, and forty-seven have been named. It has also been asserted by some that it was played by means of a plectrum, while others assert that it was played by hand. These conflicting statements may all be harmonized by supposing that the shape varied at different times, or that the word kinnor was the generic term for all instruments of the lyre kind; that the number of strings varied at different periods, or with the size of the instrument; that the instruments were of different sizes; and that they were sometimes played with a plectrum and sometimes by hand. The kinnor was a very popular instrument with the Hebrews, and was used at jubilees and festivals. Its use was also practiced by other nations.