This is a Wheelharp:
Despite looking positively Victorian, The Wheelharp is a a new keyboard controlled instrument with 61 strings (a full chromatic scale) which are bowed with actual bows! The Wheelharp also allows for different bowing intensities as well as having fully fitted damper and electric pick-up systems!
So how exactly does it work?
When the player presses any key (or keys) on The Wheelharp, the action moves the selected key (or keys) respective string(s) toward a rotating wheel with a rosined edge, thereby bowing the string(s).
With the right pedal, the player controls the speed of a motor that turns the wheel, which varies the bowing speed of the wheel against the string and thus changes the dynamic effect. For instance, the wheel speed and the key depth can both be used to create swells and decrescendos. The action for each note can easily be removed as necessary for maintenance or string replacement.
The left pedal controls a full damper system that extends across the strings. An electromagnetic pickup floats above the strings and a piezoelectric pickup is mounted to the soundboard, allowing for the player to fully control the amplified timbre of The Wheelharp.
Here is a demonstration video of The Wheelharp in action:
The Wheelharp has been developed by Antiquity Music and manufacturing is expected to begin in June 2013.
How much will it cost?
Pricing (Linear Model or Radial Model):
* 5-octave range: $11,900
* 4-octave range: $10,900
* 3-octave range: $9,900
It’s already been described as a “Steampunk version of an orchestral sound library” which in other words means that if you want one, you’d better get one before either Tom Waits or The Flaming Lips buy the lot of them up and connect them together and end the entire World!
For much more information on The Wheelharp, including its history and musical demos, please visit the Antiquity Music site which is right HERE.