Sarah Hopkins' Harmonic Whirlies

The Harmonic Whirlies Story

In 1980 I travelled to England and Europe on a musical and spiritual "quest" in search of music that contained "magic", and sonorous musical instruments that anyone could immediately play.

A year later the universe manifested my request in the form of harmonic overtone singing and soon after, the "whirlies".

A composer friend, Warren Burt, gave me a child's toy whirly (untuned) called a "Blugal", and the moment I played it I knew it was what I'd been searching for. I loved the purity of its sound and its accessibility as an instrument playable by everyone! I took this bright red toy whirly on tour through the Northern Territory, along with my cello and other instruments, giving workshops and performances in Aboriginal communities and isolated towns along the way. To my amazement everyone loved the whirly! In Yirrkala, one of the Aboriginal communities I visited, it was thrown from child to child, person to person, played like a didgeridoo, thrown like a quoit and whirled with delight! I promised myself that the next time I went on tour I'd have lots of whirlies to give away.

As a classically trained musician and composer I soon saw the potential to develop the toy whirly's design and create a range of precisely tuned whirlies that could be used in combination with other instruments. This was the inspiration behind creating the Harmonic Whirly Sets, containing 16 precisely tuned "celestial" instruments.

I've been making Harmonic Whirlies since 1982 using specially designed and manufactured plastic tubing, composing and performing music for them all over the world.

In 1983 I took the whirlies to Europe, England and America, performing music I'd composed in the Pompidou Centre, Paris and West Broadway, New York. Many other projects followed, including the Darwin Whirliworks Project (1984); Soundkites Projects (1985-87) where we attached whirlies to specially designed Stunter Kites; Whirly Dance Projects with choreographer Beth Shelton in Melbourne and Tasmania (1986/87) and the Sky Song Project which toured nationally and to New Zealand in 1988.

Later that year I was musician-in-residence at the Exploratorium, an interactive museum of Science, Art & Human Perception in San Francisco. There I had the good fortune to meet and work with physicist Paul Doherty. Together we explored the physics behind how the whirly plays. He's written several articles on them and uses my Harmonic Whirlies in his "Physics of Sound" demonstrations worldwide.

In 1996 I met Mike Robinson, a spiritual teacher and healer from England. Using his clairvoyant skills he could "see" how powerful the Harmonic Whirlies were as vibrational healing tools and he encouraged me to produce them commercially for worldwide distribution. We "trialed" 24 different whirly tunings on various groups and individuals drawing on Mike's clairvoyant skills to carefully document the various healing effects.

The Harmonic Whirlies Information Booklet which comes with each set includes a comprehensive Vibrational Healing Chart which details the healing effects of 16 different instruments on the chakras, meridians, acupressure points and the emotional field. The Harmonic Whirlies are fabulous for "energy balancing" alleviating depression, cleansing your own and others auric fields, plus cleansing your home and workplace of "negative" stagnant energy.

Harmonic Whirly Sets are being used and enjoyed by many schools, community groups, special schools, healing practitioners, dance companies and individuals all over the world. As musical instruments the Harmonic Whirlies are being used in conjunction with bands, orchestras, choirs, chamber ensembles, didgeridoos, community music events and have even been used in collaboration with the Gyuto Monks of Tibet!

Sarah Hopkins, 2001

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