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the Wheelharp and other quasi-bowed instruments

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  • the Wheelharp and other quasi-bowed instruments

    A keyboard instrument that bows strings. Recently invented, although Leonardo DaVinci came up with a similar idea (the "viola organista") and never constructed it.

    My first thought: I want one. My second thought: I want someone to build an electromagnetic version, sort of an EBow-per-string piano. (As it turns out, I was hardly the first person to have that idea...)

    I started exploring online and found some other interesting projects.

    A robotic hurdy-gurdy-like instrument:

    It's quite a drone machine.

    As it turned out, <Hurdy> proved to be an excellent test- and demonstration tool for classes in the acoustics of musical instruments. Particularly the theory of inharmonicity of strings can be perfectly well demonstrated and proved. The e-drive mechanism provides excitation at a mathematically exact 'harmonic', yet one can easily show that maximum resonance for that overtone only occurs if the string is retuned a bit for every 'harmonic'! It proves clearly that 'harmonic' overtones rather belong to the realms of religion than to those of physics. We used these scientific facts as the underlying compositional base for our composition 'Religionszwang', a solo piece for <Hurdy>. Another version of the same piece is called 'Scientia Vincere Tenebras', using calculations and empirical data for real inharmonic spectral components.

    Hurdy-gurdy emulator for guitar:

    References the above article, and also has a sound clip of the second prototype of this device. I wouldn't say it comes out anything like an actual hurdy-gurdy any more than the robot does, but it does make some unique and fascinating sounds.

    Magnetic Resonator Piano:

    It's a bit less ghostly and ethereal than I was expecting; maybe it needs to play with higher harmonics a bit more. It's more like the Moog Guitar of pianos than it is 88 EBows on strings. But it's still quite cool.

  • #2
    I would love a hurdy gurdy! They're so damn expensive though.

    I play violin a little and that's very interesting if you add lots of delay and reverb to it. Not quite the continuous bowing, but very interesting. I've never actually taken my ebow to it, so maybe that's my next project...