A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Dital Harp

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DITAL HARP, or chromatic harp-lute, one of the numerous attempts made about the beginning of this century to improve or replace the guitar. Edward Light appears to have invented this form of stringed instrument about the year 1798. The harp-lute had originally twelve catgut strings—

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but this notation was a major sixth higher in pitch than the actual sounds. In 1816 the same Edward Light took out a patent for an improvement in this instrument, which he now denominated 'the British harp-lute.' The patent was for the application of certain pieces of mechanism called 'ditals' or 'thumb-keys,' in distinction from 'pedals' or 'foot-keys'; each dital producing by pressure the depression of a stop-ring or eye to draw the string down upon a fret and thus shorten its effective length, and render the pitch more acute. The most complete instrument of this construction he named the 'Dital harp.' In this each string has a 'dital' to raise it a semitone at pleasure.

[ A. J. H. ]