The Wheelharp looks like a musical creation dating back to the time of Beethoven and Mozart, but believe it or not it’s not an antique. It’s a modern instrument created just over 10 years ago by Jon Jones as a way to let a single musician command their own string orchestra.
All-in-all the performer has access to 61 bowed strings covering a sweeping chromatic scale, but the Wheelharp is actually played from a keyboard, arranged horizontally or in an arc. Learning to play it probably takes a heck of a lot of practice, but the results are more natural sounds akin to a classical string instrument instead of a modern synthesiser.
The most elaborate version of the Wheelharp, covering five octaves, is priced at $11,900. But if four or three octaves are all you need, you can get cheaper versions for $10,900 and $9900 respectively. It’s expensive, but the one in a million chance you’re dining with friends and there’s a Wheelharp in the room, imagine how impressed they’ll be with your skills. [Antiquity Music via Neatorama]