This project was conceived in early 2014 and built in April and May. Few similar instruments exist, but I was inspired a lot by the Rotoharp, Eric Rosenbaum's musical gears, the Hurdy-Gurdy, Wheelharp, and the Viola Organista.
I wanted the instrument to have the effect of an ensemble, so I included multiple sound chambers. I also wanted it to play itself, but have an interactive component, giving the user the option to turn different strings on or off and adjust the chord playing, so I put each resonating chamber on a hinge and attached them to scotch yoke mechanisms.
Six chambers gave the option for time signatures in 2 or 3. Each chamber contains two strings, rather than three you'd need to play an independently defined chord. I considered giving each three strings, but ultimately preferred the flexibility of two. Each pluck of a chamber could give the impression of a different chord based on what other strings were playing immediately before and after. Considering that this instrument loops very quickly, it works better creating a minimalist texture than repeated chord progressions.
I teach and fully embrace tinkering, so simultaneously learning, building, and redesigning is second nature for me. I rarely wait to start a project until after I've surpassed beginner status, and it makes the process all the better.