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The Earth Harp is it a possible acoustic instrument?

  1. Apr 10, 2015 #1
    I found this forum while searching for information on William Close Earth Harp. There is a closed thread here on the subject though it seems some are still in doubt one could tease sound from a long string device. While William created his Earth Harp in 1999, Ellen Fullman created her long string instrument in 1981. Both instruments consist of physically stroking long strings connected to a resonator box. I can confirm Ellen Fullman's instrument is an actual acoustic instrument and suspect William Close Earth Harp should function on the same principles. I played Ellen's instrument here in Austin in the early 90's. http://www.ellenfullman.com/Biography1.html [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 10, 2015 #2
    I would have thought that any apparatus capable of making a sound could qualify as a musical instrument, even if a highly unusual one.
    Motorbikes, canons, and pneumatic road drills have been used as elements in the composition of music.
  4. Apr 10, 2015 #3
    Indeed. One of my favorite non traditional compositions used several leaf blowers...
  5. Apr 11, 2015 #4


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    I had to google him but found a video here...


    In it, it states that the Earth Harp has 300 foot strings. However you can see there are cylindrical "masses" fixed some short distance from the base end and he plucks the short length of string between the base and the mass. So the effective length of the strings may not be as long as they seem. The other 290 foot might well be for show. In addition he might use any number of electronic effects to turn vibration in the string into sound.

    I can think of a few other explanations for how long stringed instruments may work so don't really see why there should be any doubt.
  6. Apr 12, 2015 #5
    Below is an except from an article on Ellen Fullman's Long String Instrument. She began development in 1981. William Close "invented" the Earth Harp in 1999, both work on the same principles. The strings are not being plucked. They are essentially being bowed with pinched fingers coated with rosin stroking a length of string. Ellen uses C clamps, William uses cylinders as Capos to tune individual strings. Both use a resonator box to acoustically amplify the sound:

    "The Long String Instrument is played by rubbing the strings with rosined fingertips while walking along a pathway between banks of strings. Different overtones are emphasized as the performer moves past the harmonic nodes of each string.These overtones emerge as an array of higher-pitched harmonic relationships above the fundamental tone of each string.Sometimes these variations in overtone production seem to transform a single chord into entirely different harmonies.These changes can be heard in my music as motion, almost like a river moving past, always subtly changing, yet also seeming to remain the same.The physical scale of the installation and the interactions of the overtones with the installation space turn the respective room itself into a giant musical instrument.
    (Since 1981) the focus of my musical activity has been the development of a project I call the Long String Instrument (LSI, for short). I have refined the construction of the instrument, established playing techniques, and evolved methods of composition and scoring.The Long String Instrument produces a unique, almost orchestral sound based on the overtones produced by longitudinally vibrating strings attached perpendicularly to acoustic wooden-box resonators (on all other string instruments the strings vibrate transversely, being attached parallel to the soundboard resonator).The LSI strings range in length from about thirteen to thirty metres,usually organized in multiple groupings. Strings are tuned in just intonation by c-clamps placed on each wire, establishing the vibrating length of the strings,much as a capo does on a guitar.The range extends three octaves, from A-55 hertz at thirty-two metres in length (the A below the low C on the cello) to A-440 hertz at four metres in length (the open A on the violin)."
    http://www.ellenfullman.com/pdfs/mw85_Fullman.pdf [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
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