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Laser Harp

Link to buy the plans to make your own (would be cool for the Robot Challenge, i am thinking about it)



March 6, 2008 Stephen Hobley saw Jean Michael Jarre play his highly theatrical Laser Harp live 22 years ago and vowed he’d build one just like it. He’s just ironed out the bugs and you can see him play it here. Whatsmore, he has detailed the entire construction process on the Internet. He reckons anyone can build one for under US$600 after purchasing his US$19 Laser Harp Plans and Source Code.

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I thought I saw the plains for this on Instructables once. How come when I look for it I can't find it anymore?
If you check out the link in the topic text, seems he sold the design to be commercially produced and he had to take the plans down. I have seen the Lightwave harp controller once in a music store though. A strikethrough the username seems to indicate that the user account was inactivated or put on hold by the admins. This is topic is several years old now.
westfw8 years ago
It was at Maker Fair. It was pretty cool, although it seems to me that you have to cheat a bit to get "good" music out of 10 sensors. (that goes for the original version too, of course...)
laminterious (author)  westfw8 years ago
You saw it? Cool. What do you mean about cheating a bit?
Cheating a bit:
  • The actual output is essentially 10 switch closures, sent to a synth/keyboard. Having a "solo" piece sound good seems pretty dependent on having the synth generate "notes" with quite a bit of internal modulation and perhaps chordal content.
  • The more impressive pieces have accompaniment tracks not originating from te harp.
  • Getting more than 10 notes from it requires some external "shift" operation to switch ranges. (He's experimenting with distance detection, but it's not "done", and/or not accurate enough to do full octave spanning (or whatever.)
(note that I expect he is cheating LESS than than JMJ did.)
Perhaps I'm just being obnoxious cause real harps and real harpists don't get enough respect (IMO.) (Our middle school has a 6th grade harpist. She's pretty good, too. And THATS impressive/cool too!)
gmoon westfw8 years ago
Well, choosing 10 notes is a bit weird, from a musical perspective. There are 12 tones in a modern equal-tempered instrument (like a piano.) And most scales have 8 tones, although some have more or less...

And not including the root note one octave higher limits you, too (when you play a scale, you usually start and end on the root.)

Maybe he's not an equal-tempered kinda guy, and likes more "experimental" music? There are LOTS of different historic an cultural temperaments...(as well as making your own.)

The actual output is essentially 10 switch closures, sent to a synth/keyboard. Having a "solo" piece sound good seems pretty dependent on having the synth generate "notes" with quite a bit of internal modulation and perhaps chordal content.

...essentially a MIDI controller, which isn't really cheating at all. How many modern electronic musicians limit themselves to John Cage-style techniques?

I'm not sure why playing with accompaniment is cheating, either. Solo performances are only a small percentage of all performed music.

That's not to say this instrument couldn't be extended and refined, of course. But it's fun to hear both an orchestra and a penny whistle.
westfw gmoon8 years ago
Sure. Thus "a bit", and when compared to a real harp. Probably less than all those toy keyboards that aren't even polytonic. (and the "real" pianists keep complaining that you MUST learn on a real piano, none of this electronic keyboard crap that actually fits in a modern living space, even if carefully duplicates the sound and feel of a real piano. Cheating a bit is fine, if you ask me.)
gmoon westfw8 years ago
Yeah, it's just splitting hairs. Comparing it to a real harp is an interesting discussion, anyways (although the similarities are somewhat superficial.) I'm sure that harpsichordists thought playing the piano was cheating when it came along...

There's nothing in the controller part of a light-activated device that can produce sound directly, anyway.... The sound synthesis part is external, regardless.
LinuxH4x0r8 years ago
Awesome! I'd love to have one of those