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The Aeolian Harp

The Aeolian HarpThe Aeolian Harp (from Aeolus, the fabled keeper of the winds) consists of a number of gut strings (of different thickness' but tuned in unison) on a wooden resonant box about three feet long, which can be attached to a tree or a building or fitted along the length of a window ledge.

The blowing of the wind sets the strings in vibration in such a way that their harmonics are heard, rather than their  fundamental note, and this gives a chordal impression - the harmonics produced varying according to the thickness of the strings and the velocity of the wind. The effect is similar to that often heard from telegraph wires, but with the added resonance of a hollow sounding board, and the complexity of a distinct choral suggestion.

The Englishman Robert Bloomfield was in the earliest years of the nineteenth century making and selling Aeolian harps in London. They seem to have been very popular in those days of romantic landscape gardening with its rustic summerhouses and ruins.

German names for this instrument are Aolsharfe, Windharfe (windharp), Wetterharfe (weather harp or atmosphere harp) and Geisterharfe (spiritharp).