The reverse action Piano Harp: Innovation and adaptation from Piano and Autoharp
The Reverse Action Piano Harp:\ud Innovation and Adaptation from Piano and Autoharp\ud The piano is capable of controlling significant polyphony through the detail of voicing and sustain; a unique ability. However it remains a limited and frustrating instrument in terms of its ability to manipulate timbre. Contact with the strings is remote, and timbre inflection limited to note-onset within the capability of its mechanism; its musical output is often likened to visual studies in black and white. \ud \ud From the standpoint of design all musical instruments compromise musical capability in one form or another in order to align with human physical and sensory capability. A full range of expression may be sought by developing expertise on different instruments, but this is frustrating; in terms of expert performance interfaces such as guitar and piano are mutually exclusive — common theoretical structure must be relearned for comparable performance expression. \ud \ud This study explores the potential to create an instrument comprising a set of musical compromises comparable to that of the guitar, whilst remaining adaptive to pianistic technique. It begins with exploration of the autoharp and posits a keyboard variant of this instrument.\ud \ud Practice based research has been undertaken in the form of a prototype series and musical engagement upon the resulting instruments. Five prototypes have been developed, practice engages with aspects of automated design and manufacture, and in the latter stages, working with an exceptional industry based luthier. The resulting instrument has been patented. Musical practice encompasses genres from gypsy-jazz to contemporary experimental music. New works have been commissioned for the instrument and other musicians have played and studied it.\ud \ud Practice is supported through analysis of related forms of musical instrument (which influence the developing design) and the nature of change within musical technology. \ud \ud The result is a new, versatile instrument, with demonstrated capacity to gain traction and to propagate within the musical community.
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