Yesterday morning Brendon and some friends set up a wind harp on Rondebosch common:
A wind harp is a long, long wire, stretched taut in the wind, and attached to some kind of resonating surface. The wind blows across the length of the wire and sets up a pattern of vibrations. These are amplified by the resonator so that a human ear can hear them more easily.
It’s quite magical. The harp itself is so simple and yet when it sings it connects you to a world of vibration and energy that is usually imperceptible. It’s like a small hole in reality with sounds leaking through from the other side 🙂
It really is simple. Choose a windy day. Find a big piece of empty land. Take a length of builders line – about 50 meters long, and tie one end to your car.
Tie the other end to a handle, and a strap that you can pass around your waist and lean backwards to pull the line tight.
Attach a resonating surface to the line – this could be a bucket or plastic container simply hanging from the line. The vibrations that the wind creates in the line will pass into the resonator, and become more audible. We also used a drum, which worked very well.
The wind harp is mesmerizing. It creates a subtle singing sound, rising and falling, and changing in response to how much tension you put on the line. If you pluck it, the “pok” of sound echoes back and forth up and down the line, setting up complex cross rhythms. We also tried “bowing” the line as though it was a fiddle string.
Dropping small objects on the resonating surface adds to the sound, as they bounce, vibrate and add rattles and hums to the streams of wind sound. Here is a bangle rattling along on top of the drum:
The wind harp morning was quite trippy. This feeling of unreality was enhanced by the arrival of a friendly but determined visitor:
A young black pig being taken for a walk. She headed for our recording equipment:
And was headed of with a strategic apple:
Niklas Zimmer made a recording, and here is a small snippet. While you listen to it, imagine you are lying on your back under the blue autumn sky, on the crisp dry grass of the common. Just above you is the resonating drum, humming and whining in response to the wind:
Wind Harp Recording:
You can read more about wind harps on the Ciel Libre site.