AboutThe first Earth Harp was invented in 1999 by artist/musician, William Close. It is the longest stringed instrument in the world, with strings that extend up to 1,000 feet in length. It uses architecture and landscape as part of the instrument. The architecture basically becomes the instrument. The Earth Harp’s first installation featured the resonating chamber mounted on one side of a valley with the strings stretched out nearly 1,000 ft to the other side. It turned the valley into a giant harp!
The Earth Harp is played using violin resin on cotton gloves and musical bows. The performer’s hands are run along the strings to created cello-like tones. The act of rubbing the strings creates a longitudinal compression wave. This vibration is similar to the vibration patterns that produce tones when you run your finger around the edge of a wine glass. It is also similar to the vibration patterns created while playing singing bowls.
As William Close experimented with some of his early design concepts, he created a method of tuning the giant long strings; using a specially designed tuning block that he discovered could tune the strings to any scale. The instrument is typically tuned in an A minor scale. Flats and sharps can also be included for certain installations; this is easily done by shifting the tuning block.
Since that day in 1999, William and MASS Ensemble have created hundreds of Earth Harp installations all over the world. From the Grand Theater of Shanghai to the Space Needle in Seattle, each installation is unique to its own environment. An Earth Harp installation celebrates the architecture and landscape of its surroundings. The environment and architecture are transformed by the strings.
William Close at the Crystal Ball Gala
I shot some images of Artist and Musician William Close working his magic on the Earth/Theater Harp. He was a contestant in the final session of a competition of America’s Got Talent 2012. The person that should have won it all. I remember the America’s Got Talent 2012 season very well. After his first appearance on the show I turned to my wife and told her “this guy is going win”. I was as disappointed about the winner of the 2012 season, as I was about the 2010 when I thought Jackie Evancho should have won her season. She has issued five albums, including a platinum and gold album and three Billboard 200 top 10 debuts. He was performing in Burlington for the Crystal Ball Gala. A fund raising event for the redevelopment and expansion of Joseph Brant Hospital. The event was held at the Mercedes-Benz Building in Burlington a big supporter of project.