This paper describes an experimental study of string plucking for the classical harp. Its goal is to characterize the playing parameters that play the most important roles in expressivity, and in the way harp players recognize each other, even on isolated notes-what we call the acoustical signature of each player. We have designed a specific experimental setup using a high-speed camera that tracks some markers on the fingers and on the string. This provides accurate three-dimensional positioning of the finger and of the string throughout the plucking action, in different musical contexts. From measurements of ten harp players, combined with measurements of the soundboard vibrations, we extract a set of parameters that finely control the initial conditions of the string's free oscillations. Results indicate that these initial conditions are typically a complex mix of displacement and velocity, with additional rotation. Although remarkably reproducible by a single player-and the more so for professional players-we observe that some of these control parameters vary significantly from one player to another. © 2012 Acoustical Society of America.
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