Why choose the harp as our logo?

 A young woman, pretty, lively, with a harp as elegant as herself; and both placed near a window, cut down to the ground, and opening on a little lawn, surrounded in the rich foliage of summer, was enough to catch any man’s heart. The season, the scene, the air, were all favourable to tenderness and sentiment.

Jane Austen, Mansfield Park

The acronym, HARP, stands for Healing Arts, Reconciling People. Our name represents both art and cooperation amongst all communities for our greater personal and collective health. We were drawn from the start to the harp’s healing symbolism in creating a publisher with a particular stress on the healing power of art, especially through telling stories. The mystical sounds of the harp have been heard from time immemorial. As a young shepherd, King David was inspired by its peaceful and healing sounds.  Wherever he slept at night, he would hang his harp on a tree branch above him. At night, as the wind changed direction, it would blow across the harp’s strings and play them.  David would awaken with inspiration from these mystical sounds, pick up his harp, and play it while tending his flock.  As the music flowed from his soul, heaven and earth were joined and new songs were created.  These songs were so powerful that they became famous throughout the kingdom. In the King’s Court, David’s capacity to unite heaven and earth brought him to play before King Saul to comfort and heal his troubled soul. The king had been having nightmares, anger fits and general malaise that was affecting his mind as well as his physical health. When the harp was being played he “felt better and the evil spirit departed from Saul”. Powerful words to describe a situation known all too well by many people in our own times.

Wellcome Library contributed this etching by Willem van der Leeuw (1603-1665) after Rembrandt from their collection on Twitter on Jan. 24, 2019, with this caption:

The boy David playing the harp before Saul. Saul is mentally ill (“mala mens et amara Sauli est”): the music soothes his disturbed mind.

The catalogue entry for Wellcome Library no. 33901i for this engraving includes these notes:

King David is playing the harp as a young boy holds open a book of music for him to follow and a woman sits at a writing desk in the background. Engraving by A. van Buysen, ca. 1728.

Possibly published in series Taferelen der voornaamste geschiedenissen van het Oude en Nieuwe Testament, en andere boeken, bij de Heilige Schrift gevoegt, The Hague: Pieter de Hondt, 1728.

Quin ipsae stupuere domus”: the halls themselves were astonished, from Virgil, Georgics IV.481, describing how Orpheus charmed the monsters of the underworld with the music of his lyre.  Virg. Georg. Lib.4:V:491. A. van Buysen f chulp.

Author: Buysen, Andries van, active 1698-1747.

Our HARP logo was designed by a committee of five of us—Anne, Denise, Dorothy, John and Suzie. But only Anne has experience with logo design. We recognized early on that the pooling of ideas and settling on the final design would be a communal process, and we show here one of the ten different versions with Anne’s longhand. As we studied many harps from many cultures, we gradually evolved to a very simple design with clean lines, which would be suitable to appear on the back and spine of our books, our CDs and DVDs, the ISBN page, and on letterhead and business cards. We were also committed to avoiding both anything too Eurocentric and anything that risked appropriating indigenous symbolism. As we progressed through Anne’s many drafts, the logo became progressively simpler.  We successively abandoned written words, musical notes, book stacks, pedals, tuning forks, feathers, leaves, flowers, vines, bees and caterpillars.

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