Complete Encyclopaedia of Music/A/Aeolian harp, natural one
Aeolian harp, natural one. In Kolb's topographical dictionary of the Grand Duchy of Baden, we find the following notice of a natural Aeolian harp, in a wild mountain notch of the Black Forest of Preisgau, near the town of Try-berg : Some soldiers stationed on these heights, near the end of the seventeenth century, several times heard wonderful musical tones proceed from the tops of the firs which crowned the cataracts near them. In the notch of the mountain, a projecting rock, breaking off abruptly, gave a singular opposite impulse to the current of air streaming up and down through it, and
It is now many years ago that Kircher mentioned, as a contrivance of his own, an instrument which a few years afterwards was obtruded upon the public as it new invention, and called the Hart of Aeolus. We will give a description of it nearly in Kircher's owl words: "As the instrument is new, so it is also easy to construct and very pleasant. It is the admiration of every one. It is made exactly to tit a window, in which it is placed ; and the harp, while the window remains shut, is silent : but as soon as it is opened, an harmonious sound, though somewhat melancholy, coming from the passing wind, astonishes the hearers; for they are not able to perceive from whence the sound proceeds, nor yet what kind of instrument it is, for it resembles neither the sound of a stringed nor yet of pneumatic instrument, but partakes of both. The instrument should be made of pine wood, five palms long, two broad, and one deep ; It may contain fifteen or more chords, all equal and composed of the intestines of animals. It should be situated in a close place, yet so that the air may on either side have free access to it, in order b which, it may be observed, that the wind may be collected by various methods; first, by canals, that are made the form of cones or shells, or else by valves; these valves should be placed on the out side, and parallel boards in the inside of the room ; its sound very much resembles that of pipes and flutes playing in unison. Various are the opinions entertained of the invention of the different instruments of music; those of the moderns, like those of the ancients,
are tensile and inflatile. Modern flutes, as far as can be judged by a comparison of them with the graphical representation of the ancient tibiae, have greatly the advantage; and as to pipes of other kinds, such as the hautboy and bassoon, the chalumeau, and others, these, as having the adjunct of arced, are a new and original species, and may be pronounced an invention unknown to the ancents."
thus formed a natural Aeolian harp in the boughs of the firs and shrubs, to the tones of which the dashing of the mountain stream furnished an accompaniment. This natural music is still heard, on a windy night, by the side of the mountain stream The soldiers, impelled by that religious feeling which at those times was a prominent trait in the common people as w ell as in their superiors, looked for something supernatural. They found fixed on the highest and most beautiful fir, near a clear fountain, an image of the Virgin Mary, made of soft wood, holding the Holy Infant in her arms. A citizen of Tryberg, Frederic Schwab, had fixed it there in the year 1680, as a token of acknowledgment for his recovery at the fountain. The soldiers, taking the tones for the adoration of the angels paid to the mother of the Savior, made a tin cupola over the image, with the inscription, "St. Mary, patron of soldiers, pray for us." They also added a box for contributions, which was very soon so well filled that they were enabled to erect a wooden chapel.
Persons who live on any of our lines of telegraphic wires, especially at centres where several such wires converge, may often, of a windy night, hear natural Aeolian harps.