aeolian harp

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aeolian harp (from Aeolus, the mythological keeper of the winds). An instr. consisting of a box about 3′ long, with catgut str. of different thicknesses but tuned in unison attached to its upper surface. It could be placed along a window ledge or elsewhere where the wind could catch it and set the str. in vibration, thereby producing harmonics which varied with the thickness of the str. and the velocity of the wind to give a chordal effect. The Aeolian harp was popular from the late 16th or early 17th cents. to the late 19th cent. Now made as a toy.