The Evolution of Aeolian Harps (Wind Harps) built by Kevin Busse
From Humble Beginnings(Summer 2014)…
The first 3 Aeolian harps I built are shown here.
The very first harp I built is shown in the middle and is built out of gutter pipe. Modeled after an instructional tutorial on YouTube.
The two on either side of the original would be strung with fishing line (and many others to follow), like a harp with a dozen or so strung over the window. The pvc pipe acts as a bridge and the side pieces of wood fold into place for ease of stringing.
Orginal Vertical Designs(Summer 2014/2015)…
First off, after experimenting with my Aeolian harp prototypes I found that string actually vibrates much better if it is vertical rather than horizontal. This is primarily due to gravity, and thus, came up with this initial vertical design.
On the left you can see that a ten pound weight is hanging mid air. This was my first prototype for this design approach. I quickly realized that no matter how windy the day, the string will not sound in an area surrounded by fence and trees.
Vertical design iteration #2
Here again, you cannot actually see the string, however, you can see the red bucket that is slightly hovering off of the ground. I used a bucket of water so that I could experiment what the real tensile strength is with any particular string. In theory, I would fill the water bucket until the string snapped and then restring the whole thing, fill the bucket with slightly less water and wait for some wind.
String sounds loudest when it is closest to its tensile strength. The reason I choose to use water is that it allows me to measure more closely to a strings tensile strength.
I built the framework by cutting metal pipes at the hardware store and fastened them together with connecting pieces.
A close up
At the end of the day, I think the above approach is valid for experimentation with various stringing materials with further design iterations being necessary.
Lastly, I must note that the higher the string is off of the ground the better chances it has to catch wind.
Original Designs made out of piano pinblock, tuning pins, and copper hinge pins(Fall 2015)…
The following design iterations were the handiwork of my Uncle Mike, a Carpenter. Thanks Uncle Mike!
This particular design is perhaps the smallest design I have created. The design is not optimal because of how short the speaking length of the string is. Therefore, I have concluded that it is best to experiment with a larger speaking length as a beginning harp builder.
As you can see, it has an unconventional bridge on either side. This was an experiment to see how it may effect the performance of the string. As I mentioned before, the speaking length is too small, so the bridge was largely ineffective.
Through experimentation, I have noticed that strings must have sufficient termination points in order for a string to speak at its best. in my observation, the best bridge for a string is much like how piano strings are terminated at the end of their speaking length at the bottom of a piano rather than a simple draping over a bridge as seen in many guitars. Although, sufficient bearing would suffice.
Here is a slightly larger harp with “Find The Wind” written in ink.
Notice the bridge pins.
Another experimental variation.
Notice the variation in bridge height.
Note: sufficient bearing is much more important than actual bridge height.
2′ 6″ Harp
Q: Why are you building “harps” with only one string… ?
A: This is because I think that it is most important to first understand how one string fundamentally vibrates best and sounds loudest before duplicating on any given framework.
Best Designs of (2015)
The above design works great and is 12′ long.
Watch the harps in action! (0:39 second long video)
Potential Commercial Aeolian Harp Designs (Summer 2016)
For this prototype, I wanted to build a harp from the perspective of living in an apartment building with a balcony. One can easily attach this model to a handrail and enjoy the sounds of an Aeolian Harp.
You can see that the flexible rod was used in order to keep the string taught. The one at here may potentially become a minimum viable product with additional design iterations.
A Closer Look…
^^^ 100% Passion ^^^
16′ Fishing Pole Design (Summer 2016)
This 16′ fishing pole was the largest fishing pole I found at Bass Pro Shop. This design works quite well and was created so that I could build a larger harp.
In general, the larger the string the louder it sounds!
Aeolian Harps take flight (Summer 2016)
Extrapolating from my earlier idea of using flexible rods in order to build a harp, I used a 22′ tent pole (seen arcing on the left, attached to rod, attached to the kite string) to stretch tight a string and launch this into the air using a kite with heavy lift.
The “Musical Kite” is Launched!!!
If you look closely you can see a kite in the middle of the picture and the arching tent pole with a singing string just down and to the right. On that day, “The Musical Kite” was born!
The Musical kite expands by more than an order of magnitude. (Summer 2016)
Here you can see me flying what appears to be a normal kite. However, I am actually experimenting with a thick gauge of fishing line that sings quite loudly when in the air.
There are three main questions that I am actively working on right now to make my “Musical Kite” perform better.
- How do I build a better reel?
- How do I build a better kite?
- How do I find better (musical) stringing material?
“If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency, and vibration.”
More design iterations to come. Please feel free to ask me if you have any questions or comments. Thank you for reading 🙂
Here I am working with a bicycle in order to reel in/out the kite with less effort. I learned the hard way (as a thunderstorm approached) that frantically reeling in a 1000ft kite string with heavy lift can exhaust your arms for the days that follow. Thus, I came up with this prototype.
There are very few satisfactory options (if at all) for kite lovers to buy in order to make large kite flying easier. (Or musical kite for that matter).
As you can see, I glued cards together on the rear wheel in order to direct the string line into the bicycle rim. I also used a broken old bike stand that allows you to bike in place to exercise, or in my case, to reel in/out the kite.
This bike/reel design works when conditions are ideal, however, the slightest malfunction will present an extremely challenging afternoon(an understatement). Thankfully, my brother was there in order to help me put the string back on track.
Lastly, had we had more wind, I’m sure the project would turn out as expected. However, there ought to be a more practical option in the days and months to come.