A recent issue of Make magazine (http://makezine.com/15/) was devoted to build-them-yourself, high-tech musical instruments. Among the most impressive is a laser harp invented by tech musician Stephen Hobley.
You coax out the computer-generated sounds by waving your hands to break the light beams and change their lengths.
To build a laser harp, you’ll need to be comfortable with such things as MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) technology, circuit boards, photo cells, voltage regulators, and computers. If you’re not a serious amateur music technologist who’s been tinkering for years in the garage, you’ll need to buy or collect a significant amount of hardware and software.
Stephen’s article in Make does include a simpler project—a single-beam “laser theremin,” as opposed to the six-beam laser harp. But even that’s a pretty complex gizmo. (Note: We received an email from Geoffrey Rose notifying us that he invented the Laser Harp.)
* To see and hear Stephen playing his harp, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hCgMsrSaYwY&feature=player_embedded.
* Build a Laser Harp, Make Music With Light (Science Cheerleader): http://www.sciencecheerleader.com/2008/10/build_a_laser_harp_make_music_with_light/