The world of music gadgets seems to be dead, dead, dead at the moment, so Peter has been investigating the mysterious legal high that is the Jew's Harp (which isn't a harp, and isn't Jewish). The JHarp's finest hour is (very quietly) in the background of Red Hot Chilli Pepper's 'Give it Away', but there's a great deal more to it than meets the eye (or ear):
Modern-day Shaman Valery Yeroshev uses the "unique equipment and technologies of the soviet military-industrial establishment" to make very special harps.
He explains that the vibrations generated by twanging them take the player to a shamanic state where they enter a different world. Rather worrying, he recommends that a novice player should become "energetically intimate with the instrument", which sounds painful. But the site isn't afraid to ask the big questions: "Can a player go crazy? Yes, he can. But if you 'have flown away too far', your automatically stop to play and come back."
Here [mp3] is a spooky sound file of one of Velery's military-grade harps in action. Watch out for the surprise key change half way through.
CLICK HERE FOR PART 2: THE GUN HARP