The Wheelharp looks something like a piano cylinder and sounds like a gritty set of violins, but in fact, it’s a relatively new keyboard instrument invented by Jon Jones & Sons that bows a string inside of it for each key that’s played: 61 strings for 61 keys. Instrument restoration company Antiquity Music kickstarted production of the Wheelharp in 2013. Nicholas Pike demonstrates above.
Using a keyboard to draw a bow across strings is an idea that’s been built in a variety of ways. On the other side of the globe, Polish pianist Slawomir Zubrzycki unveiled a viola organista that he built from 2009-2012, based on 500 year old drawings of the instrument by Leonardo da Vinci. Get a close up look at it in this 2015 trailer for Zubrzycki’s viola organista documentary:
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