L'HA! is a synesthetic musical sculpture designed to provide entrancing social music experience and explore the cutting-edge of computer-based music technology. As with other laser harps, of which there are now several, participants can "pluck" or "hold" the low-power laser beams to trigger sound. However, this laser harp was designed to stretch the experience of making music in several exciting new ways.
L'HA! is a 72-channel, interactive MIDI computer interface. It's a 7' tall by 7' wide, triangulated keyboard featuring light beams that trigger computer-based music. L'HA! is coupled with state-of-the-art music software that allows numerous participants to simultaneously control any/all musical functions (triggering individual musical notes, sounds, and/or loops, as well as an infinite variety of special effects) by physically interacting with light. The result is a musical instrument with virtually infinite capability. It was specifically designed as a form of "social music technology."
With proper programming L'HA! can facilitate the following music/sound/art/education experiences:
• DJs can literally take their live performances outside the box. Audiences are no longer subjected to watching DJs stare at tiny computer screens. Instead, DJs can trigger most or all of their music changes by dancing with light.
• Multiple DJs/musicians can simultaneously create cohesive (beat-matched) live music performances on one single device.
• People of all skill levels can make music that is perfectly in time and in tune…in other words: everyone becomes a DJ when they play this device in "novice" mode.
• A redefinition/expansion of live, multi-timbral/polyphonic music experience/performance as we know it...allowing for spoken word to be played as percussion, animal sounds to become harmonic tone poems, etc.
L'HA! is a synergistic confluence of many creative forces. It all started when Johnny Dwork, the Creative Director for West Coast-based festival production company Peak Experience Productions, saw how much audiences prefer to co-create art, rather than just observe art being made others. Accordingly, Johnny started collaborating with a wide variety of artists to present interactive sound and light sculptures at Peak Experience's mythic theme-based music and performance art festivals. And then Johnny encountered one of Jen Lewin's laser harps at Burning Man. Johnny saw an even greater musical/experiential potential for this type of device. Shortly thereafter, Johnny and Jen joined forces to co-design the beginnings of a new laser harp: L'HA!
L'HA! was originally designed exclusively for private use by small groups during the art/music/spirit journeys that happen at the Peak Experience Production's west coast headquarters: The AHA! Visionary Art Alembic. However, when Johnny and his team brought the instrument to a music festival the reaction was overwhelmingly positive beyond their wildest expectations.
As a result, the L'HA! team has expanded their efforts, working to refine and evolve both the physical instrument, the software and programming that supports synergistic social music experiences, as well as the music that this instrument plays. Artistic efforts are branching out from dance music to jazz and a wide variety of ambient soundscapes not previously considered at the start of this project.