The harp transforms wind energy into musical sounds known as aeolian tones, named after Aeolus, the god of wind in Greek mythology. The wind harp is one of the oldest musical instruments discovered by man. According to legend, King David hung his harp in an open window and heard it played by the wind. In more recent times, aeolian tones can be heard singing from telephone and power lines.
When an aeolian harp string is activated by the wind, the fundamental is never sounded, only the overtone series. Wind velocity is directly related to the pitch heard by the listener; the greater the wind speed, the higher the activated overtone. The resulting tones have a shimmering, ringing quality.
In accordance with the laws of fluid dynamics, when air flows past a cylinder (in this case, a string), it sheds vortices to either side. These are shed alternatingly in a stable and regularly repeating pattern. When the frequency of this oscillation matches the frequency to which the string is tuned, an aeolian tone will result. The string always vibrates in a direction perpendicular to the wind.
Aeolian Harp at the International Center for Wild Animals (the Wilds), a 9000 acre wildlife refuge in Central Ohio. Zanesville, Ohio off Route 78 between Columbus and Pittsburgh. Call (614)-638-5030 for information. The work offers shelter and seating for visitors as they listen to the sounds of the wind. The cedar pavilion reflects the shape of the octagonal earth mound at the Hopewell Indian site in Newark, Ohio. Eight copper and teakwood harps are tensioned with stainless steel strings. Built in collaboration with Skip Stander and Charles Bremer.
Artpark, Lewiston NY
Temporary work formerly at Artpark, Lewiston NY, exploring the synergy of site, sound and design. Materials include: an earthbanked chamber, steel pole and 60 stainless steel strings tensioned by a laminated wood arc. This work was designed to attune the ear to the soundscape of the Niagara Gorge.Dimensions are 12' X 14' X 5'.
Temporary work formerly at Lexington, NY in 1983. An architectural sound structure in which the tuning system is generated by the topography of the Lexington Valley. Wires ranging in length from 20' to 250' are tensioned between five galvanized steel poles and a delta-shaped resonator/shelter at the top of the hill.
Art on the Beach, NYC
Temporary work formerly at Art on the Beach, NYC. The aluminum parabolic dish functions as a resonator and provides ideal focus of wave frequency transmissions. This work is an exploration of energy conversion systems. Wind Antenna uses both mast and parabolic dish to convert wind energy into sound waves. Dimensions are 15' X 8' X 8'.
A performance/installation on the Ganges River in Varanasi, India for the Sound Sattra Festival in February 1996. A rowboat equipped with a windharp, underwater microphone and contact mikes on the oarlocks ferried passengers along the bathing ghats on shore. Sounds were reinforced by battery-powered amps and mixers aboard the boat. For the finale, the Mallick family of musicians, led by Biddu Mallick, sang North Indian Dhrupad songs while floating along the river. click here for Sound Vessel sounds
Back to Sonic Architecture Home Page