The Jew’s Harp is a simple instrument with a small reed (or ‘tongue’) attached to a frame. You put the frame inside your mouth just against your teeth, with the reed sticking out to the side. Then you pluck it to make a twanging sound.
The player’s mouth makes the sound ‘resonate’ so that it’s much louder, and changing the shape of your mouth changes the pitch too!
The Jew’s Harp was used in Asia as far back as the 4th century B.C. It has spread all over the world since then, and is used in many different ways. This recording is from Mongolia and the musician is using a Jew’s harp made of bamboo.
There are over 1000 different names for the instrument. Although English-speaking countries commonly call it a Jew’s Harp, it actually has no connection with the Jewish people or faith. There are lots of different theories about how it got the name, but it’s still a bit of a mystery!