Percussive sounds on the soundboard

Several percussive sounds can be produced on the soundboard of the harp.


The sound board can be knocked, struck, tapped or slapped with the knuckles, palm of the hand, the fingers or the fingertips.


The resulting sounds form a wide spectrum of wooden percussive sounds that vary according to the production technique and dynamics.

Percussive sounds on the soundboard are normally played approximately on the middle part of the soundboard. However there are some minimal changes in the sound according to where the harpist hits the soundboard. The lower part of the soundboard is wider and therefore has more resonance.

Examples of percussive sounds on the soundboard:



Hit with fingers

Hit with fingertips

Hit with the knuckle of the thumb

Four finger roll

Five finger roll



All percussive sounds played on the soundboard should be notated with x-shaped note heads between the two staves.

Percussive soundboard.

Percussive sounds on the soundboard.

Verbal specifications or symbols should be used for clarification of which striking technique is wanted. The symbols should be explained in the legend of the composition. Listed below are commonly used symbols:

Perc symbols

Commonly used percussive symbols.

The placement of the percussive sounds on the soundboard can be notated by means of visual notation. A strike notated below the line means to hit the lower part of the soundboard, while notating the symbol above the line means a hit on the higher part of the soundboard.

Knock on board high low

Indicating the placement of percussive sounds on the soundboard.