[[Manga/SaintSeiya http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Pharaon-Pandore-Wallpaper_7472.jpg]]

In fictionland, there are many ways to underline a man's {{Badass}}ery or his [[RatedMForManly masculinity]]. But how can you display a woman's femininity in a less vulgar way than [[{{Stripperific}} dressing like a whore]] and [[FeminineWomenCanCook making a sandwich for a guy]]? Simple, have her play the harp.

Just as playing the electric guitar is often used as a sign of absolute masculinity, the harp's crystalline and delicate tones, as well as its graceful shape, will emphasize the femininity of the woman playing it. Not to mention that it gives the harpist a definite air of [[TheHighQueen dignity and nobility]]. As such, harp-playing women in fiction are almost always important to the plot.

This trope is OlderThanRadio but not OlderThanSteam, and doesn't generally come in to play much in works from before the French Revolution. As such the WanderingMinstrel (a medieval trope) will often be male and play the harp, and playing the lyre also {{Gender Flip}}s this trope just as often as not (most of the 'inversions' listed below concern hand-held harps and lyres, rather than the sort of grand harp one would see in an orchestra). In the very, very rare occurrences where a man is shown playing the harp, he will be ''at least'' a particularly effeminate {{Bishonen}}.

In ancient Western culture, the harp was if anything a masculine instrument. Thus we see figures such as [[Literature/TheBible King David]] and the {{Greek|Mythology}} god Apollo playing the harp (or lyre) without any loss of masculinity.

This trope is TruthInTelevision, since harpists are mostly female.

Also note who else typically plays the harp: Angels, elves, and people who died and went to FluffyCloudHeaven.

Compare FeminineWomenCanCook, for a much less refined way to show femininity.
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!!Examples:
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[[folder:{{Anime}} & {{Manga}}]]
* Pictured above: Pandora in ''SaintSeiya'', who loves playing the harp in her free time.
** Subverted with Benethosh Mime and the two Orpheus (Lyre from the manga and newer OVA's, Kotoza from one of the non-canon movies), [[DudeLooksLikeALady girly-looking but still]] [[RareMaleExample male]] {{Musical Assassin}}s who use small harps and lyres as [[WeaponOfChoice weapons of choice]]. In fact, we meet Mime in the Ansgard Saga when Shun finds him peacefully playing his lyre in the snow... and then he quickly uses its chords as RazorFloss to attack.
* Mimay in ''CaptainHarlock''
* [[{{Uke}} Shin]] in ''SaintBeast'' went to the extent of crafting his own harp to play.
* In ''HidamariSketch'', Yuno saw Hiro planting herbs and asked what she was doing. When Hiro explained, Yuno misheard her as saying "harp" and envisioned a harp-playing Hiro. Now, Hiro is already the motherly one of the group, so the feminine qualities are already there, just enhanced in Yuno's imagination.
* Yuria in the ''FistOfTheNorthStar'' anime, who has come into possession of a harp and nothing else while in Shin's captivity and is playing it in nearly every scene where she makes an appearance. The harp sound plays any time Kenshiro thinks about her.
* Played with in ''Franchise/SailorMoon''. Sailor Mercury uses a lyre as a [[InstrumentOfMurder weapon]], but it's still rather [[GirlyBruiser feminine]].
* Conis from ''OnePiece'' likes to play a harp in her spare time and is even known as "the beautiful lady who plays the harp" among the boys of her village.
* ''GunslingerGirl''. Jose's memories of his little sister Enrica (killed in a terrorist bombing) often have her playing the harp, as her brother remembers her as PurityPersonified (when we actually see Enrica in flashback chapters, she's more interested in playing soccer than her harp). Perhaps because of this Jose's ReplacementGoldfish for Enrica -- his cyborg Henrietta -- is not instructed in the harp but the violin (also the case is useful for [[SenselessViolins carrying her FN P90 submachine gun]]).
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[[folder:Films -- Animated]]
* Princess Camille's introductory scene in ''Anime/LittleNemoAdventuresInSlumberland''. Shortly after done playing, she begins to tease Nemo about how unrefined he's dressed in comparison.
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[[folder:Films -- Live Action]]
* The most notable aversion is [[TheMarxBrothers Harpo Marx]]. Hell, he's even ''named'' after it!
* The evil matriarch of the girls' boarding school in ''Literature/ALittlePrincess'' is shown playing a harp at moments when she's not actively working to make Sarah's life miserable. Her musical ability is arguably the only likeable trait the character has.
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[[folder:{{Literature}}]]
* Aversion: Flewddur Fflam in the ''PrydainChronicles'' was a consummate {{badass}}, a [[RoyalsWhoActuallyDoSomething king]], and a wandering bard. He played a ''magic'' harp, which could be more accurately said to play itself, but harping is not regarded as particularly feminine in Prydain.
* What about Homer? Didn't Creator/RudyardKipling talk about "When Homer smote his bloomin lyre(not his most inspired passage)?
* Featured in ''TheMistsOfAvalon,'' which Morgaine (as the viewpoint character) combines with ElegantClassicalMusician to assure herself that she could have any man who heard her play the harp.
* Lyra Belacqua's first name in ''HisDarkMaterials'' is, according to this trope, the single most feminine thing about her.
* The world of ''Literature/ABrothersPrice'' has a StereotypeFlip for nearly every gender role, as "masculine" in that world codes very close to what "feminine" is in this world, and vice versa. All the same, it's specifically noted in one scene that dulcimers, harplike instruments, are being played by women.
* In ''[[AuntDimity Aunt Dimity and the Duke]]'', Grayson's grandmother played a harp, and its removal for sale prompted the crisis that opens the book. There's also a painting depicting the twelfth Duchess of Penford seated at the instrument, and it is among the items Grayson repurchased [[spoiler: after making a fortune portraying crass rock star Lex Rex]].
* Averted in Literature/MiddleEarth, where {{BadAss}}es like [[Literature/TheHobbit Thorin]] and [[Literature/TheSilmarillion several High Elven princes]] are capable harpists.
* Mary Crawford has quite the skill on the harp in ''MansfieldPark''.
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[[folder: LiveActionTV]]
* In ''GreenWing'' the impossibly girly and infuriatingly perfect Angela plays the harp to Grade 7, while her more [[{{Tomboy}} tomboyish]] housemate Caroline struggles to get a sound out of her flute.
* ''Series/TheBigBangTheory'' plays with this somewhat: Amy Farrah Fowler plays the harp in spite of being the least feminine of the female characters, but she sees her non-femininity as a result of social exclusion and has a strong desire to become more feminine, making her harp playing possibly represent wish fulfillment or escapism.
* ''Series/{{Rome}}''. Agrippa falls in LoveAtFirstSight with Octavia after seeing her play a stringed instrument, though we're reminded she's hardly TheIngenue when she misses a note and shouts, "Piss and blood!" in frustration.
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[[folder:{{Radio}}]]
* ''ThePhilHarrisAliceFayeShow'' had Barbara the harpist in a few episodes.
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[[folder:TabletopGames]]
* The ''TabletopGame/YuGiOh'' TCG has Spirit of the Harp, a delicate woman playing…[[CaptainObvious well…]]
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[[folder:VideoGames]]
* Marin from ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaLinksAwakening'' is shown to play the harp in official art (though she never does so in the game itself, and never mentions that she can, either). A harp is also one of the eight magic instruments Link has to acquire throughout the game.
** Sheik in ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaOcarinaOfTime'', who plays the lyre. Of course, Sheik [[YouShouldKnowThisAlready turns out to be female]] even though she [[{{Bifauxnen}} looks male]] and [[SweetPollyOliver more or less is implied to be throughout the game]]. The harping here is important to the plot, as Sheik teaches Link [[MagicMusic songs which he needs to succeed]].
** ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaOracleGames'' has the Harp of Ages, which is normally played by Nayru, but after she's possessed by the villain, Link (who is obviously male) has to do it himself.
** In ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTheWindWaker'', the two female Earth Sages, Medli and Laruto, are harpists.
** Although she's never seen playing any instrument in her limited screentime, it's very possible that Zelda in ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTwilightPrincess'' is also a harpist; her royal gown includes a harp pattern embroidered on the skirt. (Then again, since the BlackCloak she wears over the gown for part of the game contains Sheikah emblems, it's possible that her entire outfit is supposed to be a CallBack to ''Ocarina''.)
** Zelda (again, [[AnachronicOrder for the first time]]), in ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaSkywardSword'', the same one that would later be used by Sheik, in fact. [[spoiler: Link gets his hands on it during the events of the game]].
* In ''LostOdyssey'', Jansen hears Ming playing her harp and guesses that the musician must be a beautiful woman: [[LampshadeHanging "No dude plays a harp."]]
* [[PlayingWith Played with]] in ''VideoGame/DualHearts''. [=McTuve=] (a male) plays a small harp, contributing to his ViewerGenderConfusion mystique. Doesn't help that the game is not dubbed (save for battle cries).
* [[TheBard Edward]] the very feminine Prince in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyIV'' is a harp specialist, and used it during regular [[ImprobableWeaponUser battles]] as well as to aid the party in their [[PowerOfRock battle against the dark elf]] while hundreds of miles away.
* The Comet Observatory theme from ''SuperMarioGalaxy''.
* Ishmahri of ''VideoGame/DragonQuestVIII'' is the {{Bishonen}} version of this.
* Cai Wenji in ''DynastyWarriors'' is [[TokenGoodTeammate a serene, compassionate and kind woman]], [[TokenWholesome not to mention modest]] found in the faction of [[DesignatedVillain Wei]]. She uses her harp and whatever tone she plays as her weapon.
* In [[FireEmblemElibe Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade]], the girlish-looking bard Elphin uses his MagicMusic to boost up the other characters and give them a second turn.
** In FireEmblemAwakening, Cordelia and Phila are said to be very talented harpists.
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[[folder:WebOriginal]]
* Totally subverted by [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CtYCOAFPPVc&feature=related this]] Youtube vid, possibly the [[IncrediblyLamePun heavenliest]] rendition of the Star Wars Cantina music ever... played by a teen boy.
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[[folder:WesternAnimation]]
* Duchess in ''TheAristocats''. Made more impressive by the fact that she's a ''cat''.
* ''Disney/TheEmperorsNewGroove'': Kronk's (male) shoulder angel carries a harp, prompting his shoulder devil to mock the "sissy, stringy thing."
* At least one animated version of the "Literature/{{Rapunzel}}" fable has the title character playing a harp. It's hearing her "special song" that allows the blinded Prince to find her again.
* Background character [[AllInTheScript Lyra Heartstrings]] of ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'' has a lyre cutie mark.[[note]]A pony's cutie mark signifies his/her special talent and/or skill.[[/note]] It's assumed she can play one rather well, though she's [[InformedAbility never shown playing a lyre or harp]]. Being who she is, it is not known if she plays this trope straight or not. What's sure is that she doesn't avert it.
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[[folder:RealLife]]
* Samuel Milligan of Harp Column considered the historical reasons for the view of the harp as a feminine instrument. It is believed to have originated from revolutionary France: Marie Antoinette played the harp, meaning that many female aristocrats took it up, and during and after the revolution many women of the newly created middle class also did so because of the association with culture and high social standing. The huge size of the harp was also significant, as the highly visible presence of a harp in a house indicated that the owner had a cultured wife and/or a cultured and possibly marriageable daughter. However, because it was seen as a fashion statement, few of these women learned to play the harp very well, meaning that better composers rarely wrote for it; thus gradually the harp was seen as a mere fashion statement not just by social climbing women but by musicians in general, which reduced men's interest in learning the instrument (after all, budding professional musicians- who, apart from singers, were always men, as any family who could afford the children taking music lessons would consider the wives and daughters working for money a humiliation- would not usually come from especially well-off homes- musicians were considered akin to skilled tradesmen.)
** In fact, the harp has so little music to truly exhibit skill on that most professional harpists are more likely than other classical musicians to also compose for their instrument.
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