Glass Armonica - Image 1

c. 1785

National Music Museum, University of South Dakota

National Music Museum, University of South Dakota

As the popularity of playing musical glasses increased during the mid-18th century, Benjamin Franklin, American statesman and inventor, designed a more utilitarian version of the fashionable instrument--the armonica. He had a glassblower make him a set of 36 hemispherical bowls, graduated in size, with a hole in the middle so that they could be placed in a row on a horizontal iron spindle and rotated by a treadle mechanism like that of old-fashioned sewing machines. The Museum's example is equipped with a crank rather than a treadle, to rotate the spindle. The player touches the glass rims with moistened fingers to create the instrument's distinctively ethereal, ringing sound.

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  • Title: Glass Armonica - Image 1
  • Creator: Maker unknown
  • Date: c. 1785
  • Location: France
  • Provenance: Ex coll.: Wolfgang Ruf, Emmetten, Switzerland
  • Original Source: photographer: Bill Willroth, Sr.
  • See on Institution's Site: http://orgs.usd.edu/nmm/Exhibitions/BeethovenBerlioz/BBglassarmonica.html
  • Rights: National Music Museum, University of South Dakota
  • Medium: idiophone musical instrument
  • Credit: Rawlins Fund, 1999

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