March 10, 2014 at 1:06 pm

SXSW: Vulcan Harp Lets Trekkies Rock Like Spock

vulcan harpAs every hardcore Star Trek fan knows, Spock played a freaky-looking instrument called the Vulcan Harp in four episodes of the classic television show, most notoriously in “The Way to Eden.”

Now, they can play it.

Star Trek Vulcan Harp ($2, iPad) was completed last summer, and by December, the app was ready for release, having been somewhat delayed by the media blackout accompanying release of the last Star Trek film.

“This is a Star Trek-licensed app that essentially replicates what Spock played in the episode ‘The Way To Eden,’ where he played with the hippies,” explained John Karmazyn, president of Sask Interactive Media Association. “He jammed with them on the Vulcan Harp.”

Then Karmazyn demonstrated the app, and it actually sounded beautiful (listen below), even on the noisey show floor of the SXSW Interactive trade show.

“We can either tap or strum, and this [button] will play chord progressions in a pentatonic scale, so you can’t play a wrong note — or you can hold it down and change it to [any] major or minor key. And over here, we’ve got the distortion controls, reverb controls, and different sounds.”

We wondered, in that episode, did the Vulcan Harp actually have those knobs? Did it actually sound like this?

“Well, it did have the knobs, but nobody knows what they did, and nobody knows what a Vulcan Harp actually sounds like,” said Karmazyn. “Now, they do.”

The Star Trek Vulcan Harp app allows the player to record themselves and share the results via SoundCloud, and it sounds like this: