Glass instruments


As I was poking through Youtube videos Saturday night (I was tired of writing counterpoint, and my ears were itching for some music), I found a few videos with people playing either the glass armonica or drinking glasses. Now, you may wonder what these instruments are. The glass armonica is this thing with spinning bowls of different sizes nestled into each other. Each bowl produces a different pitch of what I assume is equal temperament. As for the drinking glasses, they are just that, different sized glasses filled with different amounts of water. The glasses are quite tunable, just fill them with different levels of water. These instruments are both played by rubbing glass with wet fingers, so I guess that leaves me out since I have fuzzy paws.

Personally, although I like the more ethereal sound of the armonica, but it doesn’t sound as clear and articulate as the drinking glasses and the tone just doesn’t seem as varied. Definitely check roberttiso for the drinking glasses. He is amazing technically, and I love his “icicles” sound for The Sugar Plum Fairy although I think I prefer a more sweet “icicle” tone for a little more dreamy effect. (Hey, isn’t the nutcracker a dream??) Look for Thomas Bloch on theondes for the glass armonica.

I have a great admiration of people who play instruments that are just different. I can also assure you that we have no teacher at Brandeis for drinking glasses. In ways, people who play different instruments are pioneers in technique as well as, in some sense, interpretation. One downside is that there aren’t that many players, and unless one day there are thousands of people playing the glass armonica or drinking glasses, playing techniques, as well as the instruments will be slow to develop and mature. Many piano techniques have been developed over many years by many players, and many things about how pianos are constructed have also changed over the years. Maybe it can be through these brilliant players that these will gain popularity, but who knows?

Either way, listen to them on Youtube, they are wonderful!

Stay warm and fuzzy!!


PS: the glass armonica was popular briefly centuries ago. There are so many theories on why it is not popular anymore, but yeah, it’s sort of boring and technical.

PPS: The drinking glasses are often called the “glass harp”

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