Friday, October 21, 2016

Glass Armonica: The Story of Ben Franklin's Musical Invention

Galileo was first to notice:
Wet your finger on a wine glass
And a note rings ‘round the world
With extra sparkle and class!
Tuned glasses play a song,
Like a guitar with strings,
But the glass itself vibrates
And makes a note that rings.
Now, Ben Franklin was a musician,
And he wrote a string quartet.
Of course, he had other inventions,
But people oftentimes forget
His creation, the glass armonica.
It is special, and it is brilliant,
But not a regular harmonica.
No, it is more resilient.
At first called the glassychord,
No more wineglasses to play.
Bowls mounted on iron spindle
With wet fingers make hay!
Colorful rims according to pitch
And fingers covered in chalk!
Today, it seems so old-fashioned,
But I don’t want you to balk.
The glass must speak itself
Without a muffled sound.
Adding a keyboard to the rims
Helped everything all-around.
Violin bows improved the mood
Of romantic music from the glass.
Great composers used the technique!
It had such uniqueness and sass.
Mozart and Beethoven used
The brilliant music maker.
Musicians composed a tune
As a very special caretaker.
The bowl organ caused notes
That came from friction.
It was quite unlike the piano
Which used more restriction.
So musicians of this century,
Discover a Franklin named Ben.
He was a scientist and a musician
Who might make you sing: “Amen!”

Copyright 2016 Jennifer Waters

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