Award-winning Prolight Laser Harp Controller

What is a Laser Harp?

According to Wikipedia (Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laser_harp), a laser harp is an electronic musical instrument consisting of several laser beams to be blocked, in analogy with the plucking of the strings of a harp, in order to produce sounds.

It was popularized by Jean Michel Jarre, and has been a high profile feature of almost all his concerts since 1981. It has subsequently been used in a number of different designs, including a MIDI version invented by Philippe Guerre.

Laser harps are usually built as Framed style or Unframed style harps, also known as "Infinite Beam" laser harps.

Framed style laser harps are built to resemble a classical harp with strings. Photodiodes as well as low-powered lasers (usually around 5mW) are set inside a frame. Number of lasers can vary from a simple harp with one or two lasers up to 32 or more, depending on the complexity of MIDI hardware and software.

Unframed style harps usually consist of three components - laser projector, controller and a sensor. First versions of unframed laser harps had all three elements set in a single box. Recently however, laser harps are built in a way that the three components can be placed independently and connected by proper cables. Best example of such technology is Prolight’s Laser Harp Controller.
Laser projector and sensor are positioned facing each other and both are connected to the controller box. This gives the whole system more versatility since you can use any kind of laser projector (usually high-powered lasers are used, from 5 to 20W or more) and place the components in any way you desire. The controller box is essentially a MIDI controller that sends MIDI signals. Unframed laser harps are more complicated to build than the framed style harps but they offer much more flexibility and adaptability.

Laser projects an array of beams into a fan arrangement. When the sensor detects a blocked laser beam it sends a signal to the Laser Harp Controller which, in turn, sends a MIDI signal to the synthesizer, sampler or a PC sound card which is responsible for playing the desired sound according to the information received.

Benefits from using high-powered lasers are multiple since they make it easier for the sensor to detect an interrupted laser beam and they provide a more compelling visual experience for the audience.

Laser harp performers usually wear white gloves to improve the sensor’s ability to pick up the reflected light and as a protection from potentially hazardous laser radiation as well as to give an audience a more impressive visual performance.

 

Prolight Laser Harp Controller

Prolight Laser Harp Controller is the newest product from Prolight that will turn any ILDA compliant laser projector into a powerful frameless full color laser harp. It creates a one-of-a-kind, virtual light harp of imposing size that utilizes multi-colored laser beams instead of strings. Just like a real instrument, when you play it, by blocking laser beams, it makes sounds.

Prolight Laser Harp Controller has won an ILDA Fenning Award for Technical Achievement in 2011 which makes this Laser Harp the only one in the World to receive such recognition from the leading laser companies association – ILDA (International Laser Display Association). This is sufficient proof that Prolight Laser Harp Controller is a very reliable, high quality device.

                                                         

It began as an idea. While working on a laser labyrinth project, Prolight engineers noticed that they can use the labyrinth hardware and with a bit of modification create a laser harp controller box that would produce sounds upon a broken beam detection. First version of the harp was conceived as a framed-unframed style hybrid but proved to be very complicated for installation. Therefore a new concept had to be designed. After months of testing, error correction, development and implementation of advanced functions, Prolight Laser Harp Controller LH1 was born.

Great advantages of Prolight Laser Harp Controller are its adaptability and versatility. It can be programmed to trigger any type of audio or video event, any visual image, sound or music, special effect or even pyrotechnics. Combined with Pangolin Quickshow or Pangolin Live PRO software the Laser Harp Controller can be used to play selected laser show cues and effects by blocking laser beams like a true Laser Jockey. It can trigger synthesizers, PC samplers, DJ software or any other kind of MIDI controlled device. It is completely user friendly and it’s “plug and play” technology makes it easy to work with. There is no special knowledge required to operate it. The user just needs to connect an ILDA-compatible laser and a synthesizer and he or she is ready to play. Prolight Laser Harp Controller was the first commercially available ILDA laser harp controller in the world.

It has the option of 8 up to 12 beams, depending on the number of tones the performer requires. If an RGB laser projector is used, laser harp can have rainbow colored beams, all red, green or blue beams, or green and red (in which case red beams designate high notes while all other notes are green like the black and white keys of the piano). You can switch the tone orientation (starting C tone) from left to right. You can switch between three different MIDI banks (C3, C4 and C5 musical scales). You can connect a Double Footswitch to your Laser Harp Controller and use it for Opening/Closing the Laser Harp and for quick switching between MIDI banks.

Famous Croatian classical harpist, Doris Karamatić, has performed on Croatian National Television (HRT) during a live broadcast playing Nirvana’s Smells like teen spirit on a laser harp. She has since had several performances playing both classical and laser harps.

Prolight’s Laser Harp Controller was used by several DJ performers as well. It has been presented on Croatian Music and Multimedia Fair in Zagreb and Frankfurt’s Prolight + Sound fair with much publicity and success.

Even though laser harps have been around for over thirty years, recently through technological advancement and price reduction of laser equipment they have become available to everyone. Already the Internet is overflowing with videos and information on different performers including laser harp into their musical repertoire. Hopefully this trend will continue to rise as well as the popularity of the laser harp.

jump to top Shelby - This is great, I've never heard of Laser Harps before I found a video o it on YouTube. I think this is really cool and it looks fun!

Andy H - I've been wanting to buy a Laser Harp for years since seeing Jean Michel Jarre use one! Great work guys!

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