Glass Armonica

Essay by apoopHigh School, 11th grade November 2014

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Serenity Dean

Mrs. Parker

American Literature

2 October 2014

Glass Armonica

Benjamin Franklin got the idea for his glass armonica in 1761. He had enjoyed the sound made by musical glasses, so much so that he wanted to create a mechanical version of it. The armonica was made up of thirty seven bowls that had to be the perfect shape and thickness or else it would not work. They were lined up biggest to smallest and were marked like piano keys, the white being a rainbow of colors and the black keys had gold rims. The bowls were lined up on an iron rod that was attached to a spinning wheel. Underneath them was water so that the player could turn the instrument and it would keep his fingers moist. Benjamin Franklin himself was the first to master this instrument and he showcased it at parties to gain the interest of the people.

Many people who heard of this instrument were quite interested in it. One of these people was Johann Wolfgang von Goethe who said the sound was the "die Herzblut der Welt-'the heart blood of the world'." The instrument was even introduced to a well known composer named Mozart who composed two pieces for the armonica. Another famous composer who it was introduced to was Beethoven who also composed a piece for the instrument. Around this time, about two-hundred pieces were composed for the glass armonica. As the armonica was getting more and more famous, stories of miracles surrounded it. There were also stories of the "mental anguish" that was caused to the players of the armonica through the vibrations. The glass armonica was a great part of musical history and it is still featured here and there in a few modern works.

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