|Opus 75 - Aeolian Harp|
he harp of Aeolus, which is said to make the wind sing, has roots in a number of legends: the invention of the lyre is attributed to the god Hermes, who let the wind blow over dried sinews in a tortoiseshell; and David's harp was purportedly made to sing by the breath of God. Even today, the Aeolian harp retains a slightly magical aura, as only hypothetical explanations have been found to account for the sounds produced by the wind's movement through its strings.
Around 1650, the German theoretician Kircher devised the Aeolian harp, using the ancient principle of wind blowing over stretched strings. But it was not until a century later that the harp become popular, particularly in England. An instrument conveying the voice of nature was certain to inspire poets and writers at a time when burgeoning romanticism glorified nature. The Aeolian harp was thus the source of several poems.
This harp continued to be popular until the mid-nineteenth century. In England, it was set on windowsills in the home. On the continent, it was found in gardens, grottoes, summer homes and even vacant castles. Perhaps certain "ghosts" were nothing more than puffs of wind whirling between the strings of a strategically placed Aeolian harp.
A carpenter in his spare time, David Johnson enjoys working with and sculpting wood. As he has always liked music, he combines his interests by making instruments: several variants of the dulcimer, Celtic harp and Aeolian harp. He began making this unusual instrument after a friend, who had read about the Aeolian harp, sketched one for him. Intrigued, Johnson was tempted to experiment and eventually adapted the instrument so that it could be placed in a vertical position outside the house.