Sharpsichord

Björk just released the album credits for Biophilia, her latest album, on her web site.  As I postulated in my post about the new work, Björk was indeed the impetus behind all the musical elements on this album, having written the brass, choir, and organ arrangements herself, and having done the lion’s share of the producing.  That’s not to take anything away from her numerous collaborators, whose contributions were clearly invaluable.

One of the interesting things I learned from reading the credit roll is that Björk came up with the concept (if not the execution) for all of the newly invented musical instruments on this album except for one: the Sharpsichord:

The Sharpsichord, also known as the Pin-Barrel Harp, is the invention of an English musician and engineer named Henry Dagg (duly credited on bjork.com, I might add).  He invented the instrument for a folk music sound installation in Kent, after which it seemingly had no further use, and could no longer stand to live in the out of doors.

If you’ve listened to Biophilia as many times as I have now, the sound of the instrument will no doubt be familiar from the song “Sacrifice“.  The instrument is basically an enormous, many-geared music box that activates a set of harp-like strings, and, strangely, has a sort of shamisen-like vibrato.  It’s shocking that this instrument wasn’t custom-engineered for Björk, given that it incorporates all of her favorite things.

Here is Mr. Dagg himself performing on the musical saw with sharpsichord accompaniment.  I’m hard pressed to think of a stranger music video on the internet.  His eyes tell the whole story:

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