The Celestial Harp is an innovative new musical instrument designed and built by Robin Armstrong. The original idea of the Celestial Harp was to play a person’s horoscope, or to play the horoscope of the very moment one was living in. The dream of musically expressing the healing vibrations of the heavens grew. It evolved into a sound sculpture synthesizing the Zodiac, the I Ching, the Pyramid, the Solar System, and the Stars in the sky.
The shape of any instrument conditions the attitude of the musician and the type of music played. The shape of the Celestial Harp is based on the proportions inherent in the circle, the square and the spiral. There are seventy-two strings radiating out from the centre across a spiral bridge and out to a square bridge. There is also a circle of frets. There are eight double strings and a direct relationship of each string to the sixty-four hexagrams of the I Ching. Each string has its own frets.
The Celestial Harp has a very strong emphasis on space. The musician must move around it. There is no beginning or end to it. The strings can be hammered, plucked, strummed, played with a slide, or sounded in numerous ways. It is both a stringed instrument and a percussion instrument. It is designed so that several people can play it at the same time.
The tuning system is probably the most sophisticated system for any instrument. As the musician plays around the instrument the scales ascend and descend in waves. In the present tuning system (#9) there is a range of four octaves plus an auxiliary two octaves. There is also a scale for each sign of the Zodiac.
Because several people play the harp at the same time many of the sounds being made seem as if they are coming from several instruments.
The Celestial Harp is a unique experience for the listener. It is an adventure in time and space for the musicians. It is a radical challenge to the composer. It will be a wonderful addition to a symphony. The Celestial Harp represents the birth of a new galaxy in the universe of music.