martes, junio 02, 2009

DIY laser harp

Two weeks ago me and Adrián went to a Jean Michel Jarre concert in London. One of the long-time awaiting things of the night was the performance of Jarre playing his laser harp.

A laser harp consists of seven beams of light, each for a natural tone. When a beam is blocked a sound is played, as simple as it is. Well, there are more details about it but that's basically how it works.

Honestly, there's not much you can do with just seven plain notes, except for playing simple melodies, the same kind of melodies you could play with a Casio PT-87, or even simpler tunes. But, what the hell, the whole spectacle of movements, lights and sounds was impressive. In addition, to see the beams of light it's necessary to fill the air with smoke, which creates an even more intimate atmosphere.

After the concert, me and Adrian were commenting on how fun was the laser harp, and joking if it would possible to make our own. As usually happens, it seems someone though about it before.

Stephen Hobley, a music & electronic hobbyist, manage to make his own laser harp. Some parts are not public, and a purchase for the plans is required, but there's still some videos where he explains how to build your own laser harp.

Build your own laser harp, just follow the instructions :)

He even improved Jarre's laser harp by using a Wiimote to detect the height of hands. By moving your hand up and down, this laser harp can vary the pitch of the sound playing.

Laser harp improved thanks to Wiimote

I love him playing Rendez-vous II.

Stephen Hobley playing Rendez-vous part II

Last but not least, check these guys from Mountain Glen Harps who handmade truly laser harps, or rather say, harps consisting of lasers beams instead of strings. The funny thing is that since there's not smoke in the air, they look more like doing air-harp playing :)

This is a truly laser harp

2 comentarios: dijo...

Hi there !

This is Glenn Hill from Mountain Glen Harps LLC, also known as I am the only builder of custom-commissioned laser harps, as far as I know.

Thank you for posting my video from u-tube !

I wanted to let you know that I am building several more commissioned laser harps right now, and that my new videos of them when they are finished will include some haze to make the red and green laser beams to be visible.

The Children's Hospital where I installed that one, had sensitive smoke detectors that prevented me from using haze for the filming.

I am working on a new unframed laser harp, more like Jarre`s, using the analog function of my software, via the beams reflected back to sensors on the harp, to control volumes and note shift. This model will also use the low powered lasers I use, to be safe for public interaction.

Come see my web site at


Diego Pino dijo...

Thanks for your comment Glenn. I didn't know about the haze at the Children's hospital, thanks for making that clear.