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The Inventions and Scientific Achievements of Benjamin Franklin

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Benjamin Franklin - Armonica
Benjamin Franklin's glass armonica

A modern day version of Benjamin Franklin's glass armonica

Tonamel/Flickr/CC BY 2.0
"Of all my inventions, the glass armonica has given me the greatest personal satisfaction."

Benjamin Franklin was inspired to create his own version of the armonica after listening to a concert of Handel's Water Music which was played on tuned wine glasses.

Benjamin Franklin's armonica, created in 1761, was smaller than the originals and did not require water tuning. Benjamin Franklin's design used glasses that were blown in the proper size and thickness which created the proper pitch without having to be filled with water. The glasses were nested in each other which made the instrument more compact and playable. The glasses were mounted on a spindle which was turned by a foot treadle.

His armonica won popularity in England and on the Continent. Beethoven and Mozart composed music for it. Benjamin Franklin, an avid musician, kept the armonica in the blue room on the third floor of his house. He enjoyed playing armonica/harpsicord duets with his daughter Sally and bringing the armonica to get togethers at his friends' homes.

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