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The Glass Armonica, Benjamin Franklin’s 1761 invention

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The glass armonica is truly one of the strangest musical instruments in the world. Invented by founding father Benjamin Franklin, the concept is the same as rubbing the tip of your finger around a wine glass to make a sound. Franklin took that concept and turned it on its side, nesting about 50 glass bowls inside each other, allowing it to be played like a piano. In this video, Rutgers Mason Gross School of the Arts graduate student Jake Schlaerth introduces us to the unique sounds of the glass armonica.

This type of instrument, invented by Franklin in 1761, is classified as a friction idiophone. In the video below, Boston-based glass armonica player Vera Meyer plays a section of Hedwig’s Theme from Harry Potter:

Hear the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy on the Glass Armonica and Songs for Unusual Creatures’ Glass Frog next.

Plus: Glass harps and an Inverted Glass Harp.

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