If you watch America’s Got Talent at all you will be familiar with the above name. William Close is an American musician, engineer, arranger, and performer, best known for his creation in 1999 of the Earth Harp, the world’s largest stringed instrument. Here’s why Close bears paying attention to, barring the fact that he’s on America’s Got Talent (for the most part).
His creation, the Earth Harp, is a first of its kind instrument that lends itself to becoming a great performance tool. Close and his Earth Harp collective create a contrast of ethereal melodies and tribal drum beats. This concept resonates with me because Close chooses to immerse the audience in the experience. The theater becomes the instrument. As someone born with some hearing issues, I have always gravitated toward “big” sounding music. I treasure the full experience perhaps more than the average person (see my “A Unique Perspective” page for more on this).
William Close embodies in a unique way what musicians are gravitating toward in the changing music industry. With little revenue to be found in selling music as a product, musicians are forced to create a brand name out of themselves and find new ways engage a potential audience. With William Close and his Earth Harp collective, engagement is mandatory for the full experience. That is, the show aspect of his work is as vital to his success as the quality of the music. Close’s combination of the soothing sounds with the loud, spectacle aspect of his performances create a compelling dichotomy for anyone listening. “It’s almost unbeatable, what I’m seeing here,” exclaimed Howard Stern on a recent episode of America’s Got Talent, following a performance. Close sets an example for professionalism in a changing market, and that is why he is a name to remember.