A founding member of Magical Strings, the harp and hammered dulcimer duo he formed with his wife Pam, Philip Boulding has blended jazz and classical sensitivity with a scholarly understanding of Celtic music. On his 1988 solo album, Harp, Boulding explored the melodic possibilities of his multi-stringed instrument.
Boulding grew up in a highly academic atmosphere. His parents, who were university professors, authors and peace activists, were both nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. As a youngster, he spent extended periods in Jamaica and Japan.
Studying classical violin at the age of six, Boulding switched to guitar six years later. By the time he was in high school, he was skillfully building his own guitars. Discovering the hammered dulcimer, he built an instrument and taught himself to play.
After moving to the Northwest in 1974, he heard a Celtic harp played at a folk music gathering. Fascinated by the instrument, he traveled to Ireland and Scotland to research their musical traditions and their instrumentation. In addition to studying music at the Boston Conservatory and the University of Washington's EthnoMusicology Department, he studied privately with classical and jazz harpers and with masters of the Rumanian cymbalom, African kora and Madagascan valiha.