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Further On The Electromagnetic Harp :: Music In Space - A Recent Tedx


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i know this might not be the right place on this forum to post this, but it does touch on the future of electronics in music, and how they might actuate vibrations in a very different way than speakers do.


more info on my instrument can be found at ulfurhansson.com

all the best,


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I have followed the Electromagnetic Harp since its first appearance on Project Guitar. It's a great technical achievement and looks fantastic.

The actual music in this clip reminded me of Robert Fripp's Frippertronics music - specifically the "Let The Power Fall" album.

The slow attacks and the looping nature of the piece were similar -though Fripp used 2 Revoxes, a volume pedal and a Les Paul,

the end result is a select pallette of notes, overlapping in time.

It'd sound great with a Sitar bridge...

Edited by elmo7sharp9
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The closest, in the electric guitar world, is the bridge on a Coral/Danelctro Electric Sitar guitar.

You'd need some means of fine-tuning the bridge's interference with the the string's vibrational envelope.

I have Rockinger Sitar saddles installed on a cheap Telecaster copy

(I can't believe I spent £35 to make a cheap guitar sound buzzy <_<)

and the correct angle for buzziness is a very fine adjustment and is no match for an actual Sitar bridge.

There's an entire ancient craft - called "Jawari" - pertaining to the science of shaping Sitar bridges to produce the best buzzy drone.

An on/off system for a Sitar bridge could operate like the adjustable mutes in this Fender patent:


...set to buzz only when engaged.

Edited by elmo7sharp9
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Years ago I installed an Eyb Guitars sitar bridge on a Yamaha Pacifica 112.


Just about everything on it is adjustable, so it takes a while to dial in the right amount of buzz/action/intonation, but once set up it works really nicely if the sitar sound is your sort of thing.

Interesting presentation, úlfur. Thanks for posting!

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well, i am mainly focusing on writing music - but i got a generous grant a few weeks ago to further develop my electromagnetic harp.

its all open source, and as soon as i have version 1 up and running i will start putting together a neat website for DIYers.

what im most excited about these days is finalizing the "string reverb" feature of the new instrument - it involves routing any kind of audio signal directly through the strings via electro-magnetism resulting in a beautiful acoustic sound effect. this could be a great addition to studios armed with plate and spring reverbs...

here is an early demonstration of Jónsi's vocals (of sigur rós) actuating the strings of my acoustic guitar :: https://soundcloud.com/ulfurh/vocals-through-kassagitar/s-XNTkY (its a secret soundcloud link, you have to copy paste!)

there are more pictures and soundbytes on my website if you are interested, http://ulfurhansson.com

thanks for your tips on sitar bridges! maybe distorting the signal being fed through the strings might result in a similar "raspy" "zingy" tone...

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"...maybe distorting the signal being fed through the strings might result in a similar "raspy" "zingy" tone..."

Sadly, this is not achievable by simple electronics - to achieve "buzziness", interference with the string envelope is necessary and electromagnetic interference with the string envelope (The Moog Guitar, for instance) is a lot harder to arrange than physical interference....

My own experience with DIY Sustainers suggests that

1) You can only excite a string with a signal that is coherent with one of the natural, physical harmonic series of that string's current condition.

2) In the regular Sustainer feedback loop, the string will settle to a sine wave that is related to the drive signal - the physical resonances of the mechanical system (including the physical location of the drive transducer along the string length) largely determine whether you get a Fundamental or Harmonic out of the string.

3) Using a square wave drive signal is just a less power-efficient way of supplying the string with the sine wave that would get the same result - if the string rings at the Fundamental, all the energy you're supplying in the Square Wave's harmonics is wasted (and similarly for the string ringing at a harmonic - you'd be more efficient just supplying a sine wave drive signal at the frequency of that harmonic).

The Electromagnetic Harp could easily utilise a per-string drive signal that fades between sinusoids of the the harmonic series.


Having said all of the above, I have had - with both fixed sustainer and e-bow - freak occurences of single strings sustaining two frequencies at once - usually a natural Fifth interval (which is logical, when you consider the relative energy levels of each harmonic within a ringing string). There are too many variables to make it an easily repeatable event - I'm just happy when the magic happens...

Edited by elmo7sharp9
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