A great line-up of the weirdest harp-like musical fabrications in existence! Siamese twin harps, huge harps, harp cross-overs into other instruments, circular harps and even HARP ANIMALS!
Crossover Instruments Edit1938 Two Story Harp
“This is the biggest harp in the world. Completed only a few weeks ago, it tips the scales at more than 400 pounds. Eighty-three of its ninety-nine strings are made of steel. Some of these vibrating wires are nearly 100 inches long. One unusual feature of the mammoth harp is a row of double strings forming a series of V’s. Opposite strings are tuned differently. When one is plucked, sympathetic vibrations are set up in the other, and unusual tonal effects are produced. Two or more musicians can play on different parts of the great harp at the same time. To help in playing the largest of his instruments, Ferris has constructed a platform five feet high and about eight feet square. Around it, the ten players who have appeared with Ferris in concerts in several eastern towns group themselves with their odd assortment of instruments. Five of these players are distant relatives of the late John D. Rockefeller. Another is Herbert Colburn, one of the fiddlers hired by Henry Ford some years ago, when the Detroit manufacturer tried to revive old-time country dances.” Read more at the website.
“An extraordinarily rare harp-piano by Dietz, Austria or Germany, ca. 1840. The strings are plucked as on a harp, operated through a piano keyboard.” See website for more info.
“The Wheelharp is a … keyboard musical instrument that gives the player the ability to orchestrate a full chromatic scale of sixty-one (61) actual bowed strings at one’s own fingertips, almost like having a real chamber string orchestra at hand. It utilizes a patent-pending action and bridge to translate the player’s subtle fingerings into a range of bowing intensities, and comes equipped with a damper system and electronic pickup system, allowing individuals to sculpt astonishingly beautiful and complex sounds. For musicians, composers, and studios that seek to create the natural sound of classical string instruments while avoiding the frequently sterile quality of digital string synthesizers and samples, or for those looking to foray into new sonic territory, the Wheelharp presents a truly exciting opportunity.” See website for more info.
Harps From Everyday Items EditCigar Box Harp
“This is a table-top, double strung harp, with a cigar box resonator.” See video for more information.
“Here’s a little wire-strung harp with a roasting-pan body. The way the strings are attached is unusual; they’re anchored on the underside of the pan, running through small holes in the soundboard and up to the neck in a way that holds the board in place and generally keeps the instrument stable.” For more info, visit the website.
Human Harp / Bridge Harp
Human Harp is an instrument that clips to suspension cables, enabling us to hear and play a bridge’s song. Founded by artist Di Mainstone in partnership with Queen Mary University of London, Human Harp is also supported by Arts Council England, Arup, Roundhouse and Sennheiser. Now a global collaboration, Human Harp connects engineers, dancers, designers, musicians and bridge lovers from around the world. See website for more info.
Ethnic/Ancient Harps Edit
“The gravikord is a modern, 24 string, electric double bridge-harp invented by Robert Grawi in 1986, which is closely related to both the West African kora and the kalimba. It was designed to employ a separated double tonal array structure making it possible to play cross-rhythms in a polyrhythmic musical style in a modern electro-acoustic instrument. There is a similar instrument, also developed by Grawi, the gravi-kora, which is tuned identically to a traditional 21 string African kora.” See website for more info.
“The Ioma harp uses a gourd as a resonator, with a stick inserted into the neck as the harp’s neck. Another stick is attached to the base of the neck, with strings running between the two sticks. A third makes the harp stronger. Our harp is unusual, because it structure for the strings is made from one “v” shaped branch, not two different sticks.” Visit the website for more information.
“The sound and playability of a West African Kora with the tune-ability and stability of a German Zither! This 21 nylon string box kora can accommodate all the traditional kora tunings and is equipped with zither pins … The laminated soundbox stays in tune and sounds great …Over 5 feet long …” Visit website for more information.
New Age Harps Edit1936 Merry-Go-Round Harp
“Unusual musical effects may be evoked from a “merry-go-round” harp created by three Seattle, Wash., musicians. By operating foot pedals like those of a bicycle, the performer rotates a five-foot vertical spindle carrying the strings, and plucks them as they go past. The odd mechanism provides enough strings to play four chromatic octaves on a portable instrument, and brings them all within easy reach of the player. A pair of disk-shaped sounding boxes, attached to the spindle, enhance the tones produced. The inventors, who have named the instrument “rondolin,” expect their unusual harp to find a place in concert as well as dance orchestras.” See website for more information.Reverie Harp
Although not strictly or technically a harp, the Reverie is designed to be used in music therapy and for spontaneous production of pleasing or meditative sounds. See the MusicMakers website for more information.
“The Celestial Harp is an innovative new musical instrument designed and built by Robin Armstrong. The original idea of the Celestial Harp was to play a person’s horoscope, or to play the horoscope of the very moment one was living in. The dream of musically expressing the healing vibrations of the heavens grew. It evolved into a sound sculpture synthesizing the Zodiac, the I Ching, the Pyramid, the Solar System, and the Stars in the sky.” Visit the website for more information.
“This harp is designed to be played by two people. It is basically two opposing Sidewinders joined at the post and tilted to the playing position.” Currently not available for sale. Visit maker's website.
Harp Sponge Edit
OK, not really a harp, but interesting nonetheless. “The harp sponge is carnivorous — it uses its unusual shape to capture planktonic prey.” See website for more info.
Add to this medley any unusual, strange, or one-of-a-kind harps you’ve found!
Unusual Harp Photo Gallery Edit
Further Reading Edit
Note about this article. Some of this content has been copy-pasted from Peggy Coates' website dorveille.com The website has disappeared, but the content remains on the internet archives. Attempts have been made to get in touch with the original author, but have been unfruitful. Should Peggy come across this content, please get in touch with @harpwiki!