How to make a Wind Harp on a Sunday
It’s spring here in Cape Town, so the wind is back (winter wind normally means freezing rain as well!). So recently we headed to the Rondebosch common to play with wind harps amongst the flowering fynbos.
This year I’ve been experimenting with using disposable bottles to make simple plucked harps based on Congolese harps. Recently I discovered that they sound great when played by the wind and listened to whilst being held like an 80’s radio cassette boom box :)
These harps sing with a high pitched and ethereal voice. And if you feel inspired you can add rhythms by plucking as well. (I’ll soon be posting DIY instructions on how to make one of these).
We also made a long string harp. Read on for pics, diy instructions and a recording….I learnt how to make a long string harp via the very knowledgeable and helpful Didier Ferment. He has very clear instructions on his site, but here are the basic ingredients:
– 30 to 60 meters of +/- 1mm diameter nylon line (sold as fishing line or builder’s line).
– Attach one end to something solid (in my case, usually the tow hitch of my car) and the other to a grip (e.g. short length of broomstick). Attach a harness to the grip (e.g. old dog leash).
– Find or purchase a resonator of some kind e.g. an empty container (bucket, drum, plastic yoghurt container) or in this case, a small frame drum.
– Attach the resonator to the grip end of the string. First pierce a centre hole in the bottom of container or skin of the drum. Thread a short piece of line through and attach something to the line to stop it pulling through e.g. a small piece of wood or a cable tie. Attach it to the long harp string. If the resonator is light you’ll want to attach some means of holding it steady in the wind – I use two short bamboo lengths.
– Put the harness on, hold the grip and lean into the wind.
Align the long string so that the wind is blowing across it. If the wind is steady enough you should soon hear a sonorous buzzing sound. At that point all chat/jokes/small talk stops and everyone starts listening in awe.
You too can listen in awe to our sunday session (thanks to Trevor for the recording!).
We’ll be having more sessions this year, so if you’d like to join us please contact me.