Developer Peter DeSimone has announced a Kickstarter project to develop a production version of the AirHarp – an open-source ultrasonic digital autoharp MIDI controller that’s sort of like the theremin of harps.
The AirHarp responds to hand gestures and translates them into MIDI. You play the AirHarp by moving your hand through the air, ‘strumming’ virtual harp strings much like a theremin player controls pitch by the position of her hand. You can control which strings are playable using the fingers of the hand that holds the AirHarp.
The AirHarp is open source, based on Arduino, and DeSimone provides instructions for building a DIY version on his site. The Kickstarter project goal is to build production AirHarps in large enough volume to get the price of pre-assembled AirHarp instruments down to US $100 each.
Here’s DeSimone introducing the AirHarp and how to use it:
Here’s what he has to say about the AirHarp:
The AirHarp Lira is the latest in a series of AirHarp models designed and built by Peter DeSimone and Erik Jacobson. It’s a MIDI controller instrument, so it doesn’t make sound on its own. Rather, it sends messages to a computer, synthesizer or other device, which in turn creates the actual sound.
Backers are encouraged to familiarize themselves with software synthesis and the use of MIDI controller instruments prior to purchasing an AirHarp Lira. However we will do our best to assist any customers who have issues setting up software synthesis. You will need a MIDI cable for use with a keyboard synthesizer, or a MIDI to USB converter cable for use with a computer.
Here’s the official overview video for the Kickstarter project:
The AirHarp will be available for $100 to supporters of the Kickstarter project. For more information, see the project site.