[[quoteright:240:[[Anime/SaintSeiya http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Pharaon-Pandore-Wallpaper_7472.jpg]]]]

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 usually 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}} or PrettyBoy.

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

If the harp is weaponised, see InstrumentOfMurder and MusicalAssassin.

This trope is TruthInTelevision, since real-life 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.


[[folder:{{Anime}} & {{Manga}}]]
* Pictured: Pandora in ''Anime/SaintSeiya''. To emphasize the "lady" in the LadyOfWar, she often plays the harp in her free time.
* Apart from advising ''Anime/CaptainHarlock'', Mimay's favourite pastime is to play the harp while wearing a very feminine dress.
* In ''Manga/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 ''Manga/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.
* ''Manga/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]]).
* ''Literature/KemonoNoSoujaErin'' has Erin with a harp and using it to tame the Ouju. [[SubvertedTrope Subverted]] in that she got it from Ia-lu who is a badass Elite Soldier for the Shin-Oh, and he's first introduced playing said harp (which has his name carved into it) and even repairs and then helps Erin alter it. It probably helped show his status as one of the good guys and [[spoiler: the end reveals he retires and becomes a harp maker like he originally planned when a kid, settling down with Erin.]]
* Conis from ''Manga/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.
* Played with when it comes to Nando from ''Anime/{{Pokemon}} Diamond and Pearl''. He's a man who always carries around a harp but he's one of the most effeminate male characters to appear.
* Played with in ''Franchise/SailorMoon''. Sailor Mercury uses a lyre as a [[InstrumentOfMurder weapon]], but it's still rather [[GirlyBruiser feminine]].
* [[{{Uke}} Shin]] in ''AudioPlay/SaintBeast'' went to the extent of crafting his own harp to play.
* In ''Manga/FairyTail'', one of the celestial spirits that Lucy can summon is Lyra, a songstress with a lyre.
* In ''Manga/RGVeda'', the beautiful and talented [[FourStarBadass Lady Kendappa]] is never seen without her harp.
* In ''Anime/GrimmsFairyTaleClassics'', both Rapunzel and Briar Rose/Sleeping Beauty are very feminine girls who beautifully play their lyres. Rapunzel's musical skills are even a plot point: her Prince [[LoveAtFirstNote falls for her beautiful songs]] [[LoveAtFirstSight before properly meeting her]], and towards the end [[spoiler: the now blinded Prince finds her after he hears Rapunzel play the same song that she played when they met..]]

[[folder:Films -- Animated]]
* Duchess in ''Disney/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."
* 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.

[[folder:Films -- Live Action]]
* The most notable aversion is [[Creator/TheMarxBrothers Harpo Marx]]. Hell, he's even ''named'' after it!
* The EvilMatriarch 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.

* Aversion: Flewddur Fflam in ''Literature/TheChroniclesOfPrydain'' was a consummate badass, a [[RoyalsWhoActuallyDoSomething king]], and a [[TheBard 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.
* Creator/RudyardKipling talked about "When Homer smote his bloomin lyre" (not his most inspired passage).
* Featured in ''Literature/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 ''Literature/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 ''[[Literature/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 badasses like [[Literature/TheHobbit Thorin]] and [[Literature/TheSilmarillion several High Elven princes]] are capable harpists.
* Mary Crawford has quite the skill on the harp in ''Literature/MansfieldPark''.
* Limerick guy Edward Lear has two limericks about young women playing harp...one of them with her chin.
* Averted in ''Literature/DragonBones'', both [[GentleGiant Ward]] and his younger brother Tosten play the harp. Tosten is better at it, and earns his bread as WanderingMinstrel, minus the wandering part. While Tosten ''is'' rather [[LongHairedPrettyBoy pretty]], he is a WarriorPoet and decent swordfighter (except that he has to throw up after his first kill, but that happens to the best).
* Averted in ''Literature/TheRiddleMasterTrilogy''; of the three protagonists, the two harpists are the men, Morgon and Deth, while Raederle, the woman, is a flutist.

[[folder: LiveActionTV]]
* In ''Series/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.
* ''Series/StarTrekVoyager''. Subverted in "Prime Factors". While enjoying himself on a friendly planet, Harry Kim sees a beautiful woman playing an alien instrument resembling a harp, only it turns out to be an atmospheric sensor that works via sound. That doesn't bother Harry much as he immediately deduces how it works and [[GeekyTurnOn they start bonding over that instead]].

* ''Radio/ThePhilHarrisAliceFayeShow'' had Barbara the harpist in a few episodes.

* The ''TabletopGame/YuGiOh'' TCG has Spirit of the Harp, a delicate woman playing…[[CaptainObvious well…]]

* ''Franchise/TheLegendOfZelda'' series:
** 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]]. 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.
** 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]].
** Spin-off game ''VideoGame/HyruleWarriors'' has Sheik again, this time using the harp as a weapon. In this game, her movements are more fluid and graceful compared to [=OoT=]. [[spoiler:No prizes for guessing she's Zelda again, though the characters in-game act surprised.]]
* In ''VideoGame/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 ''VideoGame/SuperMarioGalaxy''.
* Ishmahri of ''VideoGame/DragonQuestVIII'' is the {{Bishonen}} version of this.
* Cai Wenji in ''VideoGame/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 ''[[VideoGame/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 ''VideoGame/FireEmblemAwakening'', Cordelia and Phila are said to be very talented harpists.
* In ''VideoGame/LeagueOfLegends'', Sona uses an instrument called "etwahl", which looks more like a Russian gusli or a Chinese guzheng. Also, she's a gorgeous and graceful mute woman who uses her etwahl songs to buff her allies or damage enemies.

* 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.

* 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 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.

* 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.
* Once upon a time the Vienna Philharmonic was noted for excluding women members, until 1997. The first female member they hired was harpist Anna Lelkes, who'd already been performing for them in an "associate" capacity for some 26 years, because they couldn't find any male harpists to fill the role.