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Glass harp

In the lull between raging Christmas parties past and the neverending New Year binges to come, why not just take all the half empty glasses that are cluttering up your pokey flat, arrange them into a certain formation and play a bit of Tchaikovsky on them?

Because it’s darn hard, that’s why. Instead, relax to the otherworldly sound of those who have mastered this arcane art: Polish musicians Glass Duo.

What they are playing is known as a glass harp, also known by the brilliant names ‘angelic organ’, or ‘ghost fiddle’. It works on the principle that glasses of a different shape and size (or filled with different amounts of water) will resonate at different frequencies when a slightly moist finger is slid around the rim. Put lots of these glasses together in order of the pitch they produce, and you have a glass harp.

Stories of glass harps go back to 12th century China, but they have gone in and out of fashion over the years. Benjamin Franklin invented a more convenient version, known as a glass harmonica, which mechanically rotates the glasses instead of the player moving their fingers, but after a brief period of popularity that basically crashed and burned.

Glass harmonicaThe glass harmonica (via NYTimes)

The classic glass harp might be little more than a few glasses of water, but under virtuoso fingertips it is nothing short of an amazing instrument, right up there with the theremin and the Mashine.

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