The Glass Armonica

For whatever reason this morning I felt compelled to read up a bit on US founding father Benjamin Franklin. Among the description of his inventions was an item called the “glass armonica” – a mechanical arrangement of glass bowls which rotate about a coincident axis. Such an arrangement allows many notes to be played simultaneously compared to simple water-filled goblets, for example. During its heyday, the instrument was the center of works from composers such as C.P.E. Bach, Beethoven, and even Mozart, as in this piece:

It turns out the glass armonica – or glass harmonica – is still manufactured, though it certainly isn’t cheap.

One thought on “The Glass Armonica

  1. Dean Shostak at Colonial Williamsburg plays this instrument and gives concerts (he was at the Folk Festival this past year). The sounds that emanate from this instrumetn are celestial indeed.

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