Antiquity Music is seeking to raise $50,000 in order to launch the Wheelharp, a musical instrument that gives you the ability to bow a full chromatic set of real strings using a mechanical keyboard.
Your contributions will help us dedicate the majority of our time over the next several months toward researching the Wheelharp and developing 3D prototypes of it for testing and manufacturing purposes.
Our Recent Press
Why the Wheelharp?
Bowed stringed instruments like the violin, viola and cello have been utilized since ancient times. Many have attempted to develop a mechanical keyboard instrument that can create the warm sound of bowed string instruments, but previous attempts have been of limited capability. Digital synthesizers and samplers have yielded innovative results, but most have fallen short of creating convincing, authentic sounds.
The Wheelharp puts the actual sound of multiple bowed string instruments at the player's fingertips. Combining an efficient keyboard-controlled design with extensive dynamic control and a full chromatic scale, the Wheelharp gives its player a rich sound palette of actual bowed strings that cannot be matched by synthesis or sampling.
How the Wheelharp Works
When the player presses any key on the Wheelharp, the action moves the selected key’s respective string toward a rotating wheel with a rosined edge, which bows the string. With the right pedal, the player controls the speed of a motor that turns the wheel, which varies the bowing speed of the wheel against the string. The wheel speed and the key depth can both be used to create swells and decrescendos. The left pedal controls a full damper system that extends across the strings. An electromagnetic pickup floats above the strings and a piezoelectric pickup is mounted to the soundboard, allowing for the player to fully control the amplified timbre.
How We Plan to Conduct Research and Development
All of our orders thus far have been for our Wheelharp with a radial keyboard: the Radial Model. Our initial research and development will focus on the Radial Model.
We have made great strides with selecting strings that minimize maintenance and optimize sound quality. In order to further hone our stringing choices, we are using a Wheelharp-like string-testing device that co-inventor Jon Jones has built. Further, we will be researching a material for the wheel rim that will even better achieve the smoothness of a violin bow, possessing similar properties to horsehair with respect to friction, consistency, and durability. We also will be working with a local firm to reverse-engineer the Wheelharp through the creation and use of 3D CAD renderings, which will be used to test and optimize the structural stability of the Wheelharp and to achieve greater precision in production. After the string selection and CAD testing are complete, we will build the production prototype and then begin full production of the Wheelharp here in Los Angeles.
What You Get
From stickers and t-shirts, to posters and tuners, to exclusive events and opportunities, to a Wheelharp itself or simply the satisfaction of supporting a truly unique musical instrument, we're offering a variety of rewards.
Wheelharp Rental Terms and Conditions:
Wheelharp rental and delivery is only available within a 25-mile radius of zip code 90066. You shall not create, distribute or disclose any Sample Library featuring the Wheelharp without the written permission of Antiquity Music. For purposes of this agreement, “Sample Library” is defined as a collection of digital sound recordings of a musical instrument, for use by composers, arrangers, performers and producers of music, similar to those created by companies such as East West / Quantum Leap, Sonic Impact, Sonic Couture, 8dio, and the like. You shall require anyone present during the Rental Period to adhere to the same above covenants, duties and obligations that are binding upon you.
Instrument Rental or Recording at Antiquity Music Terms and Conditions:
You shall not create, distribute or disclose any Sample Library featuring any of the instruments in Antiquity Music's stock without the written permission of Antiquity Music. For purposes of this agreement, “Sample Library” is defined as a collection of digital sound recordings of a musical instrument, for use by composers, arrangers, performers and producers of music, similar to those created by companies such as East West / Quantum Leap, Sonic Impact, Sonic Couture, 8dio, and the like. You shall require anyone present during the Rental Period to adhere to the same above covenants, duties and obligations that are binding upon you. Full Terms and Conditions are located at http://smarturl.it/amtermsandconditions.
Risks and challenges
The Wheelharp research and development process presents unique challenges and risks, but the risks are minor and none of the challenges should be difficult to overcome:
1. We have already made significant strides with string testing, and we currently are using a custom string-testing machine for our string research. Should the Wheelharp ultimately require a custom set of strings, string suppliers may take longer than expected in sending them to us, which could delay our research.
2. We will be researching a material for the wheel rim that will better achieve the smoothness of a violin bow. If the material we elect to use is not readily available in the required dimensions, updates to the wheel rim could take slightly longer.
3. We have been in negotiations with a local engineering firm to reverse engineer the Wheelharp through the creation of 3D CAD files in Pro/Engineer. If the engineering firm fills up their schedule for the next several months with other projects, we will face minor delays as we wait for their schedule to open up or as we locate another firm for this.
4. Our co-inventor Jon Jones will build the production prototype of the Wheelharp once we have presented him with the CAD files. We plan on giving Jon the 3D CAD files in August. Though we estimate that it should take him three months to build the Wheelharp production prototype, it is possible that Jon could take more time.