Common steps and sub-activities

Using the Aeolian harp

An aeolian harp (æolian harp or wind harp) is a musical instrument that is "played" by the wind. It is named for Aeolus, the ancient Greek god of the wind.  The traditional aeolian harp is a wooden box including a sounding board, with strings stretched lengthwise across two bridges. It is placed in a slightly opened window where the wind can blow across the strings to produce sounds.

The strings can be made of different materials (or thicknesses) and all be tuned to the same pitch or identical strings can be tuned to different pitches.  If the strings are tuned to different notes, sometimes only one tone is heard and sometimes chords.  The sound is random, depending on the strength of the wind passing over the strings, and can range from a barely audible to a loud hum.

See external link to examples of the aeolian harp.

Some background and uses

Aeolian harp in the old castle of Baden Baden, from an article in Scientific AmericanSupplement, No. 483, April 4, 1885

 There are examples I found of herders placing zithers on the roofs of yurts, initially so that the gut strings could dry in the sun, but once the effects were seen they did it for the effects.  The excitation of the strings produces a soft wash of harmonics as if the zither were an Aeolian harp and these harmonic sounds had inspired many of the herders to use the instruments to generate gentle trances - spiritual experiences.

What is key here is not only what is heard, but what is not heard and the older Aeolian harps were strung to provide a whole range of notes and overtones which themselves by interference produced yet more sounds.  The effects will be arbitrary, but the sound itself is eerie and haunting provoking quite high motion.

It needs good ‘strings’ to produce this level of complex resonance

 The Aeolian harp was described by Athanasius Kircher (1602–1680) in his book Phonurgia nova (1673), but was known from ancient times.

Athanasius Kirchner’s illustrations of Aeolian harps


 

Observations

For iPad/iPhone users: tap letter twice to get list of items.