The Glass harmonica invented by Benjamin Franklin: a cursed heavenly sounding instrument

Sure we´ve all seen a "Glass harp" which is set up with  glasses and cups of wine filled with water so they pitch to different notes and they can be player with your wet fingers. This has been done since the Renaissance times. Have you ever tried it? Probably in a wedding you've seen people doing it for fun! and It does really sound heavently! We´ll make an article about setting up a glass harp in your home with glasses of wine soon, but now we´re about to talk about a haunted (and somehow cursed instrument) called the "Glass arrmonica"

glass armonica

The glass harmonica is an instrument invented by Benjamin Franklin in the XVIII century who  using the same principle invented this haunting instrument that consists of a set of glass vases  conveniently arranged like a keyboard. Initially Franklin named it the 'glassychord', but soon settled on  "armonica" due to the armonious angelic sound of the instrument which became an instant hit. Mozart and Bethoven both composed pieces for this odd instrument that was inded played by some historical characters like George Washington and Marie Antoinette.

You can read a bit of the story of this instrument in the wikipedia entry

Here you can read a pdf with the story of the glass harmonica and also its "cursed" story that made it almost disappear from the concert Halls due to the rumors that said its ghostly tones could cause  damage in the nerves of the player. Finally banished the bad reputation and idea that the sound of bowed glass can be unhealthy stays alive as an urban legend even nowadays. In fact there are around a dozen of professional players of the instrument in the world.

There´s been a modern revival of this instrument.Among the contemporary players we have to highlight Thomas Bloch one of the most skilled among the few performers left in the world of this wonderful instrument.

Glass armonica
low notes on left and high notes on right like in a piano

The only place i've found where you can purchase a glass harmonica is Finkenbeiner

glass armonica manufacture

Above: Glass harmonica manufacture at Finkenbeiner´s

Read more about glass armonica story at their site

Here you can see a bit of the story and the instrument in action in a little documentary aired in "The History Channel"