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aka Glass Harmonica

replica Benjamin Franklin's Armonica

Musical glasses were introduced in Dublin in 1743, by Richard Pockrich, and played upon in London by German composer Christoph Gluck in 1746. The armonica seen above was invented by American jack-of-all-trades Benjamin Franklin around 1761. Franklin's instrument consisted of a series of glass bowls, graduated in size and fitting one inside another. They were supported by a horizontal spindle passing through all of the bowls. As the spindle was made to revolve by means of a crank, the edges of the bowls passed through a trough filled with water. Contact of the player's fingertips on the bowls produced the music. A later form of the instrument had a keyboard. The armonica proved so popular that both Mozart and Beethoven, as well as several lesser-known composers, wrote works for it.

Benjamin Franklin: Glimpses of the Man Franklin Institute Science Museum

Benjamin Franklin
Ludwig van Beethoven

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This page was last updated on 09/04/2015.

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