Whether or not we like Björk‘s music (I personally do a lot !), we are obliged to recognize that she always knows who to work with in order to continuously push the limits of the musical field. The last example of this great sense of collaboration is the conception of new instruments for her album Biophilia, and more specifically the design and realization of what she called Gravity Harps.
In order to achieve those giant musical pendulums, she worked with Andy Cavatorta who designed a what we could call a robotic string bell mixing something as simple as gravity with high technology of sensors and mechanical operators. In an interview for The Creators Project, A.Cavatorta explains:
There are four pendulums, each with a cylindrical harp on the end. As each pendulum swings through its lowest point, a single string on its harp gets plucked. The harp is cylindrical and can rotate, so any one of its eleven strings can be played by facing it to the plucker. There is also an ‘empty’ string position for playing rests.
In order to associate his design to an aesthetics that can participate to the poetic world Björk has been composing since her first album, A.Cavatorta colaborated with sculptor Marina Porter who designed several extraordinary prototypes (see images below) before reaching the current instrument.
The whole process of creation can be followed on Andy Cavatorta’s website; I include here the first and last videos of a fascinating story (Thanks Biayna!):