Ben Franklin’s Glass Harmonica

This is a little off-topic, because it’s not an electronic instrument – but this Glass Harmonica performance is amazing, and offers the same sense of otherworldliness that people often try to coax out of synthesizers.

Ben Franklin invented the Glass Harmonica in 1761, after hearing a performer play glasses musically.

“He collected a number of glasses of different sizes, fixed them near each other on a table, and tuned them by putting into them water, more or less as each note required,” according to Franklin. “The tones were brought out by passing his fingers round their brims.”

Franklin thought he could do better, and came up with the Glass Harmonica design, which puts glass hemispheres of descending sizes on a spinning shaft.

G. Finkenbiener manufacturers Glass Harmonicas based on Franklin’s concept.

via johntamaro:

Invented by Benjamin Franklin in 1761. Music by Wolfgang A. Mozart. Played by French artist Thomas Bloch, exhibiting the glass harmonica in the Paris Music Museum, Nov. 29, 2007.

4 thoughts on “Ben Franklin’s Glass Harmonica

  1. The glass harmonica is, by far, the most haunting acoustic instrument ever invented… so much so that rumours persisted that its sound could drive listeners (and players) mad or into unending depression.

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