glass harmonica

glass harmonica
a musical instrument composed of a set of graduated, revolving glass bowls, the rims of which are moistened and set in vibration by friction from the fingertips.
[1905-10]

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      musical instrument consisting of a set of graduated, tuned glass bowls sounded by the friction of wetted fingers on their rims. It was invented by Benjamin Franklin (Franklin, Benjamin) and was derived from the vérillon (musical glasses), a set of glasses, holding different amounts of water and thus yielding different notes, placed on a soundboard and rubbed by moistened fingers or, rarely, struck with rods. The German composer Christoph Willibald Gluck (Gluck, Christoph Willibald) performed his concerto for this instrument in London in 1746.

      In 1761 Franklin, impressed by the playing of the Irish virtuoso Richard Pockrich, produced his armonica, or harmonica, in which hemispherical glasses were suspended on a treadle-operated spindle, overlapping so that only their rims were visible. A trough of water beneath the glasses moistened them as they rotated through it. The diatonic notes (those of the seven-note scale) were progressively coloured the hues of the spectrum, the sharps being black, as on a piano. The compass was ultimately extended to four octaves up from the C below middle C. Long in vogue in Europe, it was an expressive instrument, and Mozart and Beethoven wrote for it.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • glass harmonica — Harmonica Har*mon i*ca ( [i^]*k[.a]), n. [Fem. fr. L. harmonicus harmonic. See {Harmonic}, n. ] 1. A musical instrument, consisting of a series of hemispherical glasses which, by touching the edges with the dampened finger, give forth the tones;… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • glass harmonica — n. a musical instrument consisting of a conveniently arranged series of graduated glasses from which tones are produced by rubbing the edges with a wet finger …   English World dictionary

  • Glass harmonica — The glass harmonica, also known as the glass armonica, hydrocrystalophone, or simply armonica (derived from armonia , the Italian word for harmony), is a type of musical instrument that uses a series of glass bowls or goblets graduated in size to …   Wikipedia

  • glass harmonica — glass′ harmon′ica n. mad a musical instrument composed of a set of graduated, revolving glass bowls, the rims of which are moistened and set in vibration by friction from the fingertips • Etymology: 1905–10 …   From formal English to slang

  • Glass-harmonica — Glassharmonica Glassharmonica de Benjamin Franklin Le glassharmonica (harmonica de verre ou, plus exactement Armonica de verre en français, en raison de l origine italienne du mot, ainsi que l a dénommé son inventeur dans la première lettre qui… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • glass harmonica — noun Date: circa 1909 a musical instrument consisting of a series of rotating glass bowls of differing sizes played by touching the dampened edges with a finger …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • glass harmonica — noun A musical instrument composed of a series of spinning glass bowls, played with the fingers, invented by Benjamin Franklin. See armonica. Syn: musical glasses …   Wiktionary

  • glass harmonica — noun a musical instrument consisting of a row of glass bowls, played by rubbing the rims with a finger or by keys …   English new terms dictionary

  • glass harmonica — /ˌglas haˈmɒnɪkə/ (say .glahs hah monikuh) noun an instrument consisting of a series of glass bowls graduated in size which can be played by the friction of the moistened finger; invented by Benjamin Franklin …   Australian-English dictionary

  • glass harmonica — noun : a musical instrument of the 18th and 19th centuries consisting of a series of hemispherical glasses turning on an axis and played by touching the edges with a dampened finger …   Useful english dictionary

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