Invented in 1980 by Sharon Rowell in the California bay area, this multiple chambered pan-cultural vessel flute, based on the thousands of years old idea of sound in clay, is a radical innovation. Chambers are tuned to a specific key and to each other in a tempered fashion like the piano. The shape of the instrument reminds some of lungs or the heart, while the finish looks ancient and earthy. The huaca has three large chambers with a split mouthpiece allowing one, two or three notes to be played simultaneously.
The premiere composer of the Huaca is Alan Tower. Some of his specially commissioned Huaca`s have all three chambers tuned to different musical scales, providing the potential for more unusual harmonies.
Created and built by Henry Lim, with the exception of the wire strings, the LEGO Harpsichord is entirely constructed out of LEGO parts--the keyboard, jacks, jack rack, jack rail, plectra, soundboard, bridge, hitch pins, tuning pins, wrestplank, nut, case, legs, lid, lid stick, and music stand are all built out of interlocking LEGO plastic bricks and related pieces. With a 61 note range, the instruments size is 6 x 3 ft. weighing approximately 150 lbs, and built with an estimated 100,000 LEGO pieces! The strings exert approximately 325 lbs. of tension. The important considerations during design were strength, efficiency, and durability. Anticipating the tension of the strings, the instrument had to be built strong, yet be able to incorporate the functions and mechanisms on a lifesize scale. With many moving parts, it also had to withstand the repeated demands of a keyboard instrument. Several prototypes of the various sections were made. After finalizing designs, Henry amassed the necessary LEGO parts. The project took two years of theorizing, designing, collecting parts, building, testing, and rebuilding.