We’ve seen a lot of unconventional instruments in our day, be it fruit and veggie MIDI players, Bjork’s musical Tesla coils, and a tattoo as a musical apparatus. We've even documented a human harp.
Musician William Close is another innovator whose music inventions won't be found in your local guitar shop. One instrument he made called the Earth Harp is so unique that it can't actually fit in a guitar shop. Or in your house. But that’s because the instrument is a house.
Located in the hills of Malibu, Close’s creation has 18 strings connecting his house’s basement to a nearby mountain. His basement has a chamber-like interior made out of marine-grade plywood and the structure's exterior has strings attached to a cliff close by. Supposedly, you can hear notes emanating around Close's home at any time of the day. "There's no other instrument on the planet that creates these tones," he told Gizmodo in a profile.
Earth Harp is permanently installed in Close’s house—though other iterations have appeared at Burning Man, international performances, and even America's Got Talent—and the musician recorded the device into an album called Behind the Veil, released on July 29th through iTunes. Although the release includes vocals and other instruments, the harp's tones leave the boldest impression—a sound that's noble, poignant, and consistently commandeering.
The music and recording are both so unique that even the mastering process for the record was out of the ordinary. In place of typical mastering equipment, Antelope Audio implemented the Rubicon Atomic AD/DA Preamp—an atomic clock described in the profile as "100,000 times more accurate than the crystal oscillator found in most studios." Since the instrument's special sound, tonal range, anden-plein-air elements are extremely hard to replicate in the studio, Close figured that only a device as exceptional as an atomic clock would fit the bill. "You can hear the sound three-dimensionally," due to the Rubicon, Close said.
Close may have one of the most specialized home music systems in the world, and his dinner parties must be beyond relaxing. We have to wonder though: does he ever get noise complaints from the neighbors?
Listen to William Close’s Behind the Veil and check out a video of the Earth Harp installed at Burning Man in 2011, below: