Part 4: experimental instrument exposé – Glass Armonica


In 1761 Benjamin Franklin attended a  musical recital of water tuned wineglasses by a friend named Delval.  Enchanted by what he heard Franklin set out to make ‘a more convenient’ arrangement of the instrument.  Initially dubbing his new creation  the ‘glassychord’, Franklin soon settled on ‘armonica’ after the Italian word ‘armonia’ or Harmony.  Both Mozart and Beethoven wrote pieces for the Armonica with some 200 pieces of various authors surviving from that era.

Feb 26 1763 Benjamin Franklin writes his friend Cadwallader Colden about his new instrument:

While in England, after my chief Business was over, I amus’d myself, with contriving and bringing to a considerable Degree of Perfection, a new musical Instrument, which has afforded me and my Friends a great deal of Pleasure; but the Description of it would make this Letter, already too long, much longer….

Part 3: experimental instrument exposé – Cristal Baschet

The Cristal Baschet is a musical instrument that produces sound from oscillating glass cylinders. The Cristal Baschet is also known as the Crystal Organ and the Crystal Baschet, and composed of 54 chromatically-tuned glass rods. The glass rods are rubbed with moistened fingers to produce vibrations.

The vibration of the glass rods in the Cristal Baschet is passed to a heavy block of metal by a metal stem whose variable length determines the frequency produced (i.e., the note). Amplification is the result of fiberglass cones fixed in a wood frame and a tall cut out metal part, in the shape of a flame. “Whiskers”, placed under the instrument to one side, amplify high-pitched sounds.

(via Wikipedia) (link)