Online edition of The Official Newsletter of the Jew's Harp Guild - The Pluck-n-Post -

Updated 4/2007 - Volume 11 Issue 1 - Spring 2007


Sponsored by:

Jew's Harp Guild
members around
the World


We're Back - A Reintroduction
MARK D. Poss - Editor & Webmaster

A Word from the Executive Director

Fraternal Greetings From Over the Water.
North Atlantic Jew’s Harp Association

Sounds and Video from the Web

Alaska and Africa Meet in Amsterdam

Bulletin Board: Post Your Notes
Can You Make a Video? - NAJHF 2006 - IJHF CD

Steven Stoops JHarps

Guide to the Guild
ayland Harman

Creating a Jewsaphone
Harm J. Linsen - The Netherlands

A Photo Essay of 2006 Jew's Harp Festival - Part 1
International and North American Jew's Harp Fests
Ingrid Berkhout

Online Newsletter Archive
Previous Newsletters

We're Back

Hopefully better than ever. With renewed fervor, attitude, and commitment to the people that matter most… our membership.

You find us now under new leadership (see WFED) and an urgent  desire to be your source of information and fellowship in regards to this wonderful, magic instrument.

A JH Collection From NAJHF 2006 - Pic by Ingrid Berhout
Participation is everything to a volunteer organization such as ours. Personal obligations and tragedies are priority to even those folks in leadership roles.  It is the nature of things, and sometimes it will happen, even to the best intentioned.  We apologize for our hiatus.

Letters have been sent to our membership explaining, in part, the situation. We have offered refunds those who desire it and, thus far, none have accepted and many have reaffirmed  their faith in us.  Participation is the key and we urge all members to include themselves in the activities, otherwise we shall cease to exist. Our commitment is clear. Join us in our adventure and the JHG shall lead the way.

Mark D. Poss— Editor

A JH Collection Fromthe 5th. IJHF 2006 - Pic by Ingrid Berhout


Wayland Harman - JHG Exec. Director Focus on JHG News and IssuesA Word from the Executive Director

Wayland Harman — New JHG Executive Director

My name is Wayland Harman, the new executive director of the Jew's Harp Guild. I want to express my appreciation for the faith the membership has placed in me, and the enthusiasm of all the new and returning board members. We have a wonderful opportunity to take this organization to the next level just as soon as we figure out what we want that to be. While we work on that one there is the job of getting back on track and putting on another festival. I have inherited a few significant concerns which require, and are receiving, my immediate attention, first and foremost, this very publication. It is a blessing that our members have been so patient with us and we do apologize for not publishing the Pluck-N-Post regularly. That shortcoming is being rectified and you may look forward to finding it in your mailbox consistently, each issue filled with relevant articles and serving the needs of this fine organization in every way that we can. The PNP is your place to share what you know about the Jew's Harp. Your input and submissions are encouraged.

Another obvious concern is the festival. While we may be a little behind in our planning this year, all necessary preparations are being made and falling into place quite nicely. Our appreciation for the Bay City Arts Council cannot be overstated. To have this facility at our disposal, and the wonderful folks who take care of us there, has made the physical chore of presentation much easier. This still leaves a lot for us to do and additional volunteers are always welcome. Look for an exciting new Guild T-shirt  to be available this year and of course the 15th annual commemorative shirt. Our workshops will include a few surprises and a special session on how the instruments are made. Come join us and make a popsicle stick Jew's Harp. It won't sound great but sure will be fun and will help you see why good Jew's Harps sound good. Have you ever wanted to play more than one harp at a time, we can show you how. Interested in some of the related instruments? Would you like to learn to circular breath your Didgeridu, or build a mouthbow that really rocks? This is the Jew's Harp Festival and anything is possible. It is all happening on the weekend of August 4th. This would be a good year to join us, if you haven't yet; and for all of our returning friends, see you there!  Also I want to say thank you to those of you I have already spoken with. The way you all have stepped up to the plate again this year is very impressive and the reason why this festival is going to be great. 

As you may know the Jew's Harp Guild was established as a not for profit entity in 1996. We have successfully maintained our 503C status since that time, and have every intention of continuing the Guild ad infinitum. Though we have never secured the grant money we hoped this organizational move would bring, we have none the less established ourselves as an important part of the world Jew's Harp community. Our website is the most often cited source on the web for information about this instrument. One benefit of our non profit status allowed us the .org classification which has enhanced our credibility and thus our responsibility. We take our online presence very seriously and hope to increase the data base we are hosting in the near future. The two CDs of festival recordings stand as our most, shall I say, vocal accomplishment. An amazing array of talent has graced the festival stage through its fourteen years. I am so glad we have this sample preserved; the spirit of the festival is well captured here. The incredible amount of work that has gone into this organization, and years of dedication by what has sometimes been far too few individuals doing it all, deserves more recognition than I can begin to express here. What has been created is a strong group, with lofty goals and the common sense to take care of the business at hand while graciously reaching to a bright future. Each of us should be proud to have come so far, accomplished so much; and if at times that has been only to keep us alive until the next growth spurt then we have done well. We are after all a teenager and our growing pains have made us strong.  - Wayland  

NEW Board Members as of April 2007

Executive Director: Wayland Harman;
Secretary/Treasurer: Janet Gohring

Board Members: Gordon Frazier, Ingrid Berkhout, Larry Hanks, Lorraine Tendick, Ralph Christensen, John Palmes, Mike Stiles

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Fraternal Greetings From Over the Water
From Michael Wright

 Last year we enthusiasts of the Jew’s harp in the UK finally got our act together and formed the Islands of the North Atlantic Jew’s Harp Association or IoNAJHA. Given the rise of interest in Europe and the US’s leadership in promoting the instrument, it might come as something of a surprise to people that we’ve only just managed to organise ourselves. A few individuals – John Wright (England / France), Lindsay Porteous, Duncan Williamson (Scotland) and John Campbell (Ireland) have been keeping the flag flying since the 1960’s, and there have been various uses of the Jew’s harp by Northumbrian players, Colin Ross and Johnny Handle, for instance, but generally there’s not been much activity here in the UK. There has been, however, a steady growth of interest these past few years, so when an Association was formed at the Whitby Folk Week, August 2006, we found we had 20 members. WE have now grown to 40 and held the first.UK conference / concert at the end of April with Spiridon Shishigin, Leo Tadagawa, John Wright and Lindsay Porteous as the guests. This is all very modest, considering the years of experience the Guild has, but you have to start somewhere!

 “Why IoNA Jew’s Harp Association?” you might ask. We wanted a name that was non-political, non-nationalistic and that would draw together the relatively few enthusiasts in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. The UK & Irish Association was a possibility, but it was the great Irish singer and fiend of John Campbell who suggested IoNA – there’s no historical complications with the name (sometimes having a long history is a distinct disadvantage!)

 It’s a non-fee group at the moment that communicates mainly by email and through a Newsletter. The only financial commitment relates to any events and is treated on as-and-when basis. Like the Jew’s Harp Guild, anyone can join, but we are still very much at the fledgling stage, so are open to ways we can develop. A website is planned, but in the meantime, anyone interested in what is going on in the UK – particularly on the research front – should go to my website Anyone coming to the UK may well find an enthusiast in the particular part of the country they are visiting, so it’s always worth getting in touch.

 Oh yes, and I’m also the Editor of the Newsletter of the International Jew’s Harp Society, and there’s some really interesting items on the international scene that can be found in there – website also under consideration.

 Michael Wright

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Welcome to the Jew's Harp Guild - Photo by Ingrid Berkout

Join Us For The

15th. Annual

in Bay City Oregon

Fri. Aug 3rd and Sat. Aug 4th 2007

Schedule and activities are still being developed.
More details in the Summer issue of PnP
and on the web at:

 Always great folks, great food and great music

Jam Sessions  -  Workshops  -  Kid Activities
Make your plans now



Soundings  explores the new world of Jew’s Harp related audio and video files available on the internet, new CDs and recordings, or historical recordings of days past.  Please let us know of any special trinkets you find and include performer comments or background if possible.
From: Owen Gilbride via the JHG Discussion Group
Date: 4/4/2007 Here are a few improv solos I edited in Audacity.
Any comments/critiques? I'm planning on adding more (including non-edited ones) soon.

From: Mark Poss - JHG Webmaster via the JHG Discussion Group
Date: 12/7/2006
A neat new User Submitted Audio file has been posted at:  
Enjoy and please submit your own! - Mark


From: SAM C via the JHG Discussion Group
Date: 9/17/2006
I've uploaded a few video of jawharp playing these last days, at :
Khomus and morsing I brought back from Amsterdam, and two bamboo stringed trumps,
one self made, and one from Mongolia. SAM

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Alaska and Africa
Meet in Amsterdam

                 By John Palmes

John Palmes on MouthBow at NAJHF 2006 - Pic by Ingrid Berkhout

Dancing and shaking to the rhythm of the bells on her ankles and the drumming of her bare feet on the wooden floor, Madisoni struts onto the stage like Queen Marimba. She plays jaw harp, birembau, and mouthbow (African names of these instruments not known to me). Birembau (sp?) is known to most of us from Brazilian or South American music but Madisoni plays these instruments in uniquely African ways.

Madisoni wasn’t on the program, she just happened to be in Amsterdam and was able to give us 15 minutes on the first evening of the Mundharp Festival. Her dancing entrance and her tribal dress say she represents a tradition and a culture. Madisoni speaks no English, but speaks through an interpreter.

I’m a mouthbow player from Alaska. Amsterdam was hard on me with temperatures over 100 every day. So I was amazed that Madisoni could stand the heat in all that clothing. She wore heavy traditional dress, but I was blown away by the way she played the mouthbow.

I’ve been tinkering for over 40 years, but Madisoni’s playing and singing have more than 40 thousand years of tradition behind them. It’s a culture that understands how to make music with a hunting bow.

Her mouthbow technique was immediately strange and impressive... instead of putting the end of the bow near her open mouth, she put her mouth around the bow, maybe 6 cm from the end, and she used a bow made from a long thin smooth stick.

Her bowing technique put a lot of energy into the string, making an incredible whistling, warbling, bugling sound, like very high falsetto singing... ( it’s hard to say that there was no voice in it).. but it wasn’t just a sound, it was part of a song, that was part of a way of life.

I can only imagine the antithesis between that culture and the grand new concert hall in Amsterdam where fortune had led us both. I’ve know of Madisoni for more than 10 years (Google for mouthbow). She is a very important bearer of culture within South Africa as well as without. I never imagined I’d meet her, certainly not in the Netherlands.



I brought two mouthbows with me from Juneau, but only intended to take one back  home. The other would stay behind, a gift to someone as yet unknown. After the concert, friends pointed out Madisoni and her entourage on the patio, so I went down and introduced myself. They offered me a seat.

After some brief introduction, I showed Madisoni the bow I’d brought, demonstrated it, then presented it to her. She in turn, unpacked her bow giving me a close-up look at how she played. Madisoni motioned to me something like “how do you pluck it?”.. I brought out one of my special green picks and handed it to her.

Madisoni at IJHF 2006 - Pic by Ingrid Berhout

I only had two of those picks and didn’t know where I’d find more in Amsterdam, so I was surprised that instead of handing it back, she put it in her pocket.... I felt foolish when she took out one of her birembau sticks and one of the sticks she uses to “bow” the mouthbow and gave them to me. We were trading and I hadn’t caught on.

So, now I know exactly what the bow is made of (long slender stem segment of woody plant) and that it doesn’t work on my steel strung bow. (This is the next frontier for my own mouthbow playing. Bowed mouthbow is an incredible sound.)

10:00 Saturday Morning, 8 people came to my mouthbow workshop, (thanks also to Lindsay Proteus for demonstrating). However, they were 8 bright, knowledgeable, inquisitive people, and I was able to show them something they didn’t already know (the mouthbow revolution is now).

Amsterdam was great.... finally I’ve met a real mouthbow player. It was an honor to be invited to perform and give a workshop at the International Conference. I finally got to meet Lindsay Proteous, a Scotsman mouthbow player, had a beer with Roland Wimmer, of the Wimmer Maultrommel company (met at NA Jew’s Harp festival in Richland, OR a couple of years ago. Fred Crane, and Anton Brun, folks from Austria, Russia, Hungary and Japan, India the middle east. I met or exchanged viruses with just about every famous Jew’s harp player I’d never met......

                 John Palmes

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bulletin board - Post Your Notes



The PLUCK-N-POST needs more contributors!

If you have ideas for articles, sketches, or pictures, etc.
Please query the  JHG:

The Jew's Harp Guild
69954 Hidden Valley Lane
Cove, OR 97824

Or use the JHG Feedback form.

Please note: To protect our posters from spam attacks the @ sign in email addresses have been replaced with the word "at."


Can you make a video on how to tune a Jew's harp?  Know anybody in my area (CT) who can do it. 

Did anybody inform Andy Rooney (60 Minutes - CBS) that the Jew's harp is not inferior to a kazoo?  Ref. Albrechtberger's classical symphony for Jew's Harp and Mandora.— Joe Lavariere 860-533-7133

14th NW Jew's Harp Festival
From: Katin via the JHG Discussion Group
Date: 8/9/2006

Hello all! I just wanted to thank the organizers and staff of this year's festival in Bay City. I immediately felt welcomed and among friends, and I had a great time. The band scramble was such a kick, and I know my playing skills improved *greatly*! Great festival, great fun, great people. Great food, too! I'll back next year, and I'm going to be sure to camp! Cheers, --Katin


December 12 2006
Fifth International Jew's Harp Festival 2006
The remarkably varied sounds of the Jew's harp, that could be heard throughout the fifth International Jew's Harp Festival in July 2006 in the Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ, have been captured on a beautiful double CD

Jew's Harp players from all over the world were invited by Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ and the International Jew's Harp Society to perform at the festival. For centuries, the Jew's harp has been one of the most widely spread musical intstuments of the world appearing in all shapes and sizes

You can now listen to the surprising and mysterious sounds of Jew's harps from countries ranging from India to the the United States and from China to South-Africa.

The CD is for sale at the Box Office of the Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ for € 25,00. People from outside the Netherlands can order the CD by phone
using a credit card.
The box office can be reached from 12.05 pm - 7 pm (CET)
at T +31 20 788 2000.
Please keep your credit card number and expiry date ready.
(price € 25,00 including administration and postal charges).


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Pictorial Archive

The Jew’s Harp Guild Pictorial Archive needs photos of your favorite ‘harps. Send (non-returnable) pics and info to:

The Jew's Harp Guild
c/o Ralph Christensen
2239 Fairfield Street
Eureka, CA 95501 Or submit them now at:


“Show-N-Tell” is a recurring feature of Pluck-N-Post.. Please submit you own photos and stories. Do you have an unusual Jew’s Harp, or one with an unusual history? We’d love to hear about them.

These are two new ones from Steven Stoop, a long time maker and contributor from Holland. The one on top is in the key of E. The other is adjustable

'Harp in E by Steven Stoops
Adjustable 'harp  by Steven Stoops

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The Jew's Harp Guild has been around for over ten years now, and has a constantly changing membership made up of players and other interested parties from around the world. But who, exactly, are they? In an attempt to address that question, this column will feature a Guild member or two each issue. As always, your contributions and suggestions are welcome.


Wayland Harman on Clackamore - Pic by Mark D. Poss

In his own words… WAYLAND HARMAN

In order to put my association with the festival into perspective, and as a means of introduction for those of you that I have not met; here is a brief history of one of the festivals "odder" participants.

I was approached to be the master of ceremonies at the first festival, a position I kept for many years. I already played guitar and wrote songs and quickly fell in love with the Jew's harp. Seeing what could be done with the instrument, meeting Leo Tadagawa who made music with the whole world as his instrument, Jules DeGulio's Didgeridu, and lessons learned from players like Bill Gohring and Gordon Frazier all changed my life. This new creative outlet led to the development of the Reeded Mouthbow and the invention of the Clackamore in 1995. My most cherished memory of all the festivals is the overwhelmingly positive response to the Clackamore the first year I sold them. It was through the Clackamore that I met Mark Poss and Dan Gossi, who have both been such wonderful supporters of the festival and the Guild. We formed the online business, in 1998, which Mark and Dan still operate. As a group and with the full support of the festival organizers the two festival CDs were created. Mark and I joined with Michael Bruesh in 1999 forming the OddTones, and appeared on the festival stage for several years. Our CD "We’re Allowed" uses the Jew's harp throughout, along with other mouth resonated instruments and few other oddities. I am no longer with this band and my association with the Guild was seriously curtailed when I divorced and moved far away in 2003. I was able to attend last year’s festival, after a two year absence and enjoyed being back with my friends. I had not expected to be elected to the director’s position when I offered to help in anyway that I could, at the annual meeting last year. I do however accept the job with humble appreciation and will endeavor to lead us firmly and fairly to the future that looms so bright.— Sincerely,  Wayland 

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Creating a Jewsaphone

Harm J. Linsen

Good Friday 2006

Here we are, a holy weekend and I have the time to write an article on creating a jewsaphone. The idea to write this article came to me as I was reading the article Etats Unis/Clayton Bailey in February 2006 on the French site In the last paragraph of his article the author mentions (and I quote) ‘Pour ma part je vais me mettre à la recherche d’un klaxon en cuivre dans les brocantes’. (For my part I find myself a brass horn in a lumber shop). A few weeks earlier near the new year I made two jewsaphones out of two brass horns that were collecting dust in a box.

A few weeks earlier

Collecting all the information I could find concerning the Jewsaphone I discovered the site of Clayton Bailey and his Jawsaphones (the subject of the article mentioned above). When I saw the photographs of his ‘universal Jawsaphones’ I said to myself ‘I can do that myself’. The idea was born and I found myself in a hardware store to study the materials and ways to construct a device that could hold the jew’s harp.

Fabrication plan

I take two brass plates which I cut with a jig-saw, in the desired form. On one plate I mount a T-shaped coupling for water conduits. The long side of the T-coupling is cut to form an opening in which the tongue can move freely. On the other plate bolts will be attached with which the two sides can be fixed together and hold a jew’s harp. All the pieces are finally fixed by soldering.

Cutting the brass \/


Not as easily done as said, obtaining brass plates is not simple. It looks like it doesn’t exist. In the Dutch hobbyshops they don’t sell it. Finally I obtained the brass at a metal wholesale dealer. Cutting the brass is not very difficult although you need some patience and some quality sawblades. The quality of the blades is an important factor for your patience. One plate needs two to three blades in the ideal case but that could be a much larger number.

After cutting, the holes for the bolts are made. Very important is the position of the holes, the jew’s harp will go together with the two plates. The trick is to position the centre of the sounding part of the tongue or embouchure (mouthpiece) opposite to the hole in the short arm of the T-coupling. If that is not the case the horn will not or very poorly amplify the sound of the jew’s harp. The holes in which the bolts are placed need to be of a slightly smaller diameter as the diameter of the bolt. That way you can cut the thread where the bolts are to be screwed in. The holes in the other plate should be slightly bigger for an easy assembly.


 These photo's were taken by Robb Storar at the 5th international jew's harp festival, Amsterdam This article was published earlier on the French site although in the French language ( ).

The next phase is to solder all the pieces together. You need to develop a feeling for this. In the beginning soldering seems very difficult and you have to try several times to reach the result you want. Gradually you get better and the results are more pleasing. Next pieces are soldered, the bolts, which are already screwed in the holes, the T-shaped coupling, and the thread inside the short arm of the T-shaped coupling (because the narrow end of the horn has also a thread), After soldering (and cleaning because all is smudged by the flame) the jewsaphone is ready to assemble.

For easy assembly I have used winged nuts \/


After the success of making my first two jewsaphones I started to search for other horns to experiment with. And in a secondhand shop I found a bottle in the shape of a clarinet and with a clasped capsule. Using the clasp of the capsule I made a glass jewsaphone.

Now I have six jewsaphones of different shapes and I have ideas for some others.


After construction and assembly I was very curious to know how the instrument sounded. The first time I tried it with the instrument against my lips (not the teeth). Whoa, what a sound I was truly surprised by its clairity. It’s a bit hard to define in what fashion the sound is changed. I haven’t made any recordings of the sound. I have the impression that the sound is richer or more full.

Playing the jew’s harp pressed against the lips, there is a clear sound in contrast to playing without the jewsaphone where the sound is smothered by the lips. Playing with the instrument pressed against the teeth gives a hard sound inside your head and it’s a little harder to reduce the vibrations of the instrument to prevent it slapping against your teeth. This caused a cramp in my jaws as if I ate chewing gum for a long time. After some time that is reduced (by training I guess). One cause of that cramp is the form of the plate of my first jewsaphone which requires more effort to keep the instrument still. Nevertheless playing with more efforts to control the instrument is something you quickly get accustomed to.

So yes, the sound is really amplified but I have no clue to what extend.. It ’s also dependant on what kind of jew’s harp is amplified, the larger ones with a more rigid tongue are better amplified than the smaller jew’s harps with a less rigid tongue. That has probably its origin in the length of the horn, but also the position of the jew’s harp in front of the hole in the T-shaped coupling which is maybe less tolerant for the position of the smaller jew’s harps. The sound is certainly amplified but in comparison with other musical instruments maybe not enough.

And take care! You’ll experience that playing a jewsaphone is addictive! Cordially Harm J. Linsen


A Photo Essay Of 5th IAJHF 2006 - by Ingrid BerhoutAdditional Photos by Joan Broughton


Send check or money order to:
The Jew’s Harp Guild
c/o Ralph Christensen
2239 Fairfield Street
Eureka, CA 95501
North American Jew's Harp Festival 1998-2000 Highlights


Highlights 1998 - 2000

The North American Jew’s Harp Festival is . . .

musicians from Australia, Austria, Hungary,
the Netherlands, and the United States
playing traditional, original, improvisational,
and uncategorizable music on Jew’s harp,
dumbek, bhodran, Clackamore, cigar box
fiddle, mandolin, harmonica, random
pieces of wood, and more.

There’s nothing else like the
North American Jew’s Harp Festival.

North American Jew's Harp Festival
1998 - 2000 Highlights CD

Compact Disc - DBS-2707 - Total Time : 61:47

US$12.00 each + US$ 3.00 S & H in USA (US$ 5.00 international).
Allow 4-8 weeks for delivery. Sorry no CODs.

See the JHG STORE for makers, sellers. publications & jhg products

North American Jew's Harp Festival
1997 Highlights CD

The CD features 20 of the best Public Domain, spontaneous music,
or original composition performances of the 1997 festival.
The CD was well accepted at the Molln Congress.

There are only a few left!

US $12.00 each
Domestic US - 1 item US$ 3.00
Each additional item US$ 1.00

International -  1 item US$ 5.00
Each additional item US$ 1.00

Send check or money order to:
The Jew's Harp Guild
2007 Festival CD
69954 Hidden Valley Lane
Cove, OR 97824

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