Aeolian harp... an instrument played by the wind
Above: Aeloian harp made by Harp Maker
The Aeolian harp (read the wikipedia article ) is named after Aeolus the ancient greek god of the wind. They're sometimes called "harmonic harps". They originated in ancient Greece and flourished through the Renaissance era becoming very popular n the Romantic Era. The traditional aeolian harp is essentially a wooden box soundboard 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 (some are called "monochords") or identical strings can be tuned to different pitches. The musical sounds of an Aeolian Harp are the results are of vortex "swirls" flipping around in the back of the strings It's somehow misterious but also ethereal, haunting and inspiring. Aeolian harps are still hand-crafted today. Some are now made in the form of monumental outdoor metal sound sculputures. In fact if you place a standard up in a windy hill you will most likely hear this eerie ghostly wind moans.
Above: Outdoors Aeolian harp sculpture in California
So how does it sound untouched by human fingers?
Wind harps transpose the spirit of the wind into spontaneous, multi-layered music in time to nature's rhythms. Their vibrant voices sing pure harmonic tones that range from deep, pulsing bases to soaring sopranos.The sound is random, depending on the strength of the wind passing over the strings, and can range from a barely audible hum to a loud scream. If the strings are tuned to different notes then sometimes chords can be heard.
Below: Video of wind harp recorded it on a beach in Pembrokeshire, West Wales. The sounds are created randomly by the wind vibrating the strings. This is a track from my CD Windharp and Wavesong that you can find at nickpenny.com
Raw recording (with no effects added) of wind on a standard harp producing a similar effect.
There are some builders that go beyond making bigger outdoors sculptures that you can place in your garden. Harmonic wind harps make not only the typical door and window harps but also other bigger sculptures ready for outdoors, for example the weather proof harmonic sanctuaries that can accommodate several people, an unique auditory experience!
Above: Aeolian harp harmonic sanctuary
If you find these wind sounds healing or relaxing, then you can buy the cd Wind Songs is a distinctly unique CD, composed of eight tracks that feature a variety of harps, winds, and tunings. at harmonicwindharps. Sample of the album called "chakra tuning.mp3"
How to build your own aeolian harp
Maybe you're considering to make your own aeolian harp!
Feeling crafty...? making an aeolian harp doesn´t look so difficult... You can find already made plans to do it... or even improvise it. I'm about to try it myself so I´ll come and edit to inform you of my progress
The below graph was taking from this link where you can commission yours or see some pictures of the process on the making
The above drawing of an aeolian harp was drawn by Bruce Taylor (using Windows Paintbrush) and posted on rec.music.maker.builders many years ago.
You´ll need zither pins and nylon strings that you can easily find in ebay and also any music local luthier or instrument music store. Remember that the longer the harp is, the more easily it will sing in light breezes. You find some plans also to build it in ebay.
Here is a link to Harpmaker.net book "Building the aeolian harp" that is sold electronically and consists of a step-by-step tutorial explaining the complete process from material selection to tuning the completed harp and getting it to sing for you. It includes 19 drawings, 22 color photos and all the information you will need to build your own harp.
And in this other link you can also read an indepth article about aeolian harp and read how to make your own with illustration: how to build an aeolian harp
As you see in aeolianharps.com aside of the classical aeolian harps they make other models, including with plastic bottles and chairs... and also combining it with other actual and playing instruments like this example:
Above: Gourd harp made by Aeolianharps.com