I thought that Prydain fans might enjoy the following tidbit from Monday's New York Times, which contained an article captioned "Now in the Recovery Room, Music to Heal By: Testing a Theory that the Gentle Strains of a Harp Help Regulate Hearts After Surgery." Apparently a hospital in New Jersey has on staff a harpist who plays daily in the cardiac recovery unit for two hours. As part of a study on the effects of her music, recovery room staff monitors patients' vital signs every fifteen minutes while she is playing. The results are still incomplete, but so far comments by patients and nurses seem to back up a study by a doctor in Illinois that "harp music in particular helped stabilize irregular heartbeats." The harpist (no, it's not Fflewddur in drag) claims that she makes sure she doesn't play any tune that's too recognizable, in case it's something like "music a guy broke up with his girlfriend in Atlantic City to." She favors instead, unsurprisingly, Celtic airs and tunes from books like "The Healer's Way: Soothing Music for Those in Pain."
Even the staff finds her music relaxing.
One amusing note: the article begins with the line "When George Moran woke up on Tuesday, he thought he had died and gone to heaven." As the writer point out, this was not such a far-fetched notion as all that; the gentleman in question woke up from heart surgery to become dimly aware of an attractive woman strolling around playing a harp! There is a picture of the harpist that accompanies the article, and she is carrying a harp that she can sling around her waist. It's bigger than your average Prydain bard's harp, but it looks otherwise much as one imagine such instruments to look--at least, that's what I thought.
The citation is the New York Times national version, 28 Aug 2006: A14.