Introducing the Wheelharp: Part barrel, keyboard, and hurdy gurdy

Even before little black sampler pads started replacing living, breathing, acid-washed-denim-vest-wearing drummers, the battle between live and synthesized had been raging. Where one excels in timbre, the other falls short; where one is compact and portable, the other definitely is not. And though its constituents aren’t as vicious as they once were, replace one with the other and someone will have words to say and/or shout.

Kickstarter’s latest oddity, the Wheelharp, is something that hopes to bridge the gap and maybe mend some fences. Formulated by Antiquity Music and Jon Jones & Sons, the Wheelharp is a barrel-shaped keyboard instrument with the ability to produce actual bowed-string sounds. Its keyboard pushes strings towards the center axis of the body, which houses a spinning wheel. The edge of the wheel is treated with rosin just like a standard instrument bow, and the pedals control speed and dampening.

Listen to audio samples of the instrument and check out images of the gorgeous prototype at the Antiquity Music website, or help to fund the project (a “radial” model runs for a cool $10k) at Kickstarter.

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