The Segulharpa is an electronic musical instrument that produces completely acoustic music.
The instrument is a 25 string harp that has been in development for the past 3 years, and generates it’s tones using special types of electromagnetic actuation modules. These modules generate powerful magnetic fields around the strings causing them to resonate, even forcing the strings to vibrate in ways that are otherwise physically impossible.
The instrument is either played by touching the capacitive metal sensor keys on the front panel, or programming the instrument via bluetooth/wifi connection. As a note is triggered, the respective magnetic string actuation module is activated and creates magnetic feedback loop between a sensor and driver coil, manipulating the signal between sensor and driver.
Feedback is in its nature a very unstable phenomenon, so as you play multiple notes simultaneusly a kind of eco-system is established due to the unevitable crosstalk of vibration between the strings - meaning that the timbre of each respective note - and even the fundamental frequency (overtone) - is determined and influenced by the other notes being played. That means no two chords will share the same exact timbre, adding a new dimension to the performance aspect of the instrument.
A touch sensor towards the middle of the circular instrument changes the fundamental frequency of all notes at the same time, so as you press the sensor each note being played will shift up a fifth or an octave. This means strictly speaking that the instrument is actually capable of maintaining a range og up to 4 octaves, even though there are only 25 strings.
The actuation modules have advanced a lot in the past few months, and new discoveries have enabled us to build an instrument that not only lets you play it via the keyboard or wireless connection - but also enables you to process external audio with it. As you connect an auxiliary input, the pickups are automatically decoupled from the driver coils and the incoming signal is made to vibrate the strings via forced resonance. as you sum together the resonances of all 25 strings a beautiful chromatic reverb is created - which can be recorded by connecting the master output to an audio interface, or you can capture it acoustically using a microphone of your choice. Similar to spring and plate reverbs of the past, the Segulharpa has the potential to become a standard in recording studios for audio processing.
Listen to an early test of the "string reverb" here, using only ONE string (imagine what all 25 will sound like!) ::
Furthermore, the electromagnetic actuation circuit can be used with any instrument stringed with ferrous metal strings. Grand pianos and guitars, zithers and dulcimers are all candidates for further experimentation.
The SEGULHARPA is an electromagnetic harp i've been working on for the past year. Utilizing 13 hand woven magnetic actuators that feedback through 26 strings on the inside, the SEGULHARPA is a completely acoustic electronic instrument.
The instrument has a very characteristic tone and timbre. Controlled either via OSC(open sound control) through a USB cable, or by the capacitive touch keyboard on the front panel - so you can feel the object vibrate in your hands while playing it.
Future versions will allow any audio signal to be routed through the strings for a completely acoustic "string reverb" effect. Listen to a preliminar test of the "string reverb" here ::
Building process ::
Video of early prototyping of the electromagnetic system ::
A recent workshop I organized in collaboration with Arnljótur Sigurðsson at the LúngA Festival, July 2012.
A treasure hunt of sounds, with the intent to open the ears of the participants to soundscapes surrounding them in everyday life.
In the process of discussing vibrations, math and golden ratios, ideas were materialized in the creation of soundtoys and instruments - which were built throughout the week, followed by an improvised concert.