Nicolas Reeves has invented The Cloud Harp – an instrument that creates music from the shape of the clouds above it. So far, it has played in many cities around the world – Amos and Montreal (Canada), Lyon and Paris (France), Hamburg (Germany), Gizycko (Poland), Pittsburgh (USA), Moskow (Russia)... When the sky is blue, the harp is silent, but whenever a cloud hovers above it, the music begins. “It uses a lidar,” explains Reeves, “which is a laser beam directed at the clouds. Whatever bounces back to the instrument is measured and gives us an idea of the brightness of the cloud, as well as its height.” A composer, known as a ‘cloudist’, orchestrates the clouds by configuring the instrument so that cloud data triggers and controls musical sounds and melodies. He then leaves the Harp playing the music of the clouds for passerbys to listen to it.
Sometimes musicians are brought in to provide new orchestrations by recording the samples that the harp plays.“It means that we can play the clouds of St Louis, Missouri, through an arrangement by a Montreal,composer” explains Reeves. In Northern Quebec, the Cloud Harp was installed in the clearing of a park, surrounded by trees. “When there was a full moon,” Reeves remembers, “people brought their sleeping bags and stayed the night next to the harp. They just layed there listening to the clouds.”

 

Listen to the Harp:

 

Montreal sequence

Moscow sequence