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Wind-harps and Wind-flutes

Windharps (made from fishing line and cat-food can resonators over long tubes) are set up at the breezy edges of scenic overlooks. A gentle sustained breeze activates a complex harmonic series, creating sustainable-powered melody; a rich result from simple technology.

Visitors will notice the wind more, hear what they feel, appreciate acoustic phenomena and pure tuning, and see an example of ingenious technology harnessing natural forces. It will even make the traffic noise sound better.

Aeolian tones have fueled listener’s imaginations since ancient times. A steady gentle breeze forms a laminar wind pressure that builds up vibrations in a string (or power line) different from the resonating modes resulting from a finger-plucked string. The strings respond by fanning up and down the harmonic series, creating gapped melodies and chords from the noisy source in a kind of reverse entropy, an alchemical sublimation of pure tone from chaotic energy. Blackburn’s wind-harps u se high tension fishing line coupled with an amplifier made from cat food cans. With strings in the four directions, the tones react to the prevailing winds by producing different clouds of sound.

The wind-flutes operate on the beer-bottle effect where a jet of wind passes over a fipple and sets up standing waves inside the cavity. Blackburn has designed a wider mouthpiece that is more efficient at catching the wall of wind as it passes over. Unlike the wind-harps, the wind-flutes respond to higher, shorter bursts of wind. With a stack of them of different sizes and set at different directions the space comes alive with anything from burbling to an asthmatic church organ.