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Glass harp

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Title: Glass harp  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: It Makes Me Glad, Bruno Hoffmann, Glass Harp (band), Crystallophones, Friction idiophone
Collection: 1741 in Music, Crystallophones, Friction Idiophones, Improvised Musical Instruments, Melodic Percussion
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Glass harp

A glass harp being played in Rome, Italy. The rims of wine glasses filled with water are rubbed by the player's fingers to create the notes.
For the band, see Glass Harp (band) or for the similar instrument, see Glass harmonica.

A glass harp (also called musical glasses, singing glasses, angelic organ, verrilion or ghost fiddle) is a musical instrument made of upright wine glasses.

It is played by running moistened or chalked fingers around the rim of the glasses. Each glass is tuned to a different pitch, either by grinding each goblet to the specified pitch, in which case the tuning is permanent, or by filling the glass with water until the desired pitch is achieved.


  • History 1
  • Contemporary uses 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


The glass harp was created in 1741 by Irishman [2]

The composer Christoph Willibald Gluck played the musical glasses. He performed in London and Copenhagen. His instrument consisted of 26 goblets.[3]

The instrument was popular in the 18th century. Pockrich's contemporary, Ford, published Instructions for the Playing of the Musical Glasses while Bartl published a German version.[4]

Contemporary uses

On March 9, 1938, Bruno Hoffmann performed on the glass harp at the London Museum in a program including Mozart's Adagio (K. 356) and Quintet for harmonica, flute, viola, oboe, and cello (K. 6I7), accompanied by GeoffreyGilbert, Leon Goossens, Frederick Riddle, and James Whitehead. It was an "exquisite performance, in which the flute and viola in their upper registers were almost indistinguishable from the glasses, [which] held spell-bound a large audience, crowded over the floor, stairs and galleries".[5]

On February 18, 1979, Gloria Parker performed as a musical glasses soloist with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra at the Jai Alai Fronton in Hartford, Connecticut, USA. Richard Hayman, noted for his arrangements for Boston Pops conductor Arthur Fiedler, was the guest conductor for the 90-piece orchestra that accompanied the musical glasses which included songs such as Lara's Theme from the movie Dr. Zhivago, Lover and Amor.

There are several current musicians who professionally play the glass harp. Among them are the Glass Duo from Poland, Philipp Marguerre and Clemens Hofinger in Germany, France's Jean Chatillion and Thomas Bloch, Brien Engel, and Dennis James in the United States and Canada's Real Berthiaume. Glasses have been also used by famous rock band Pink Floyd during the recording of "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" on their Wish You Were Here album, recorded and released in 1975.[6] Igor Sklyarov played the glass harp on the same song during two 2006 concerts recorded in Venice, Italy by former guitarist David Gilmour.[7] Gilmour also used the effect during his August 26, 2006 concert in Gdańsk, Poland, with the help of Guy Pratt, Phil Manzanera and Dick Parry.[8] Both recordings are available on Gilmour's Live in Gdańsk CD, although the Venice recording is only available on the 5-disc version of the album or as an internet download with the 3- and 4-disc versions.

  • A Toast To Christmas with the Singing Glasses is an album recorded and released in 1980, composed and performed by Gloria Parker. Fourteen well-known carols are performed with the glass harp producing flute-like sounds on crystal glasses, marking the first commercial album to use glasses as a musical instrument.

See also


  1. ^ Produced by Chris Brookes; Music performed by Robert Tiso on the glass harp (2013-08-03). "The Last Lonely Irish Idiophone". Documentary on One.  
  2. ^ Sibyl Marcuse, "Angelic Organ", Musical Instruments: A Comprehensive Dictionary, corrected edition, Norton Library N758 (New York: W. W.Norton, 1975).
  3. ^ Sibyl Marcuse, "Musical Glasses", Musical Instruments: A Comprehensive Dictionary, corrected edition, Norton Library N758 (New York: W. W.Norton, 1975).
  4. ^ P1205; W. A. Mozart; Hermann Abert, Stewart Spencer (translator), Cliff Eisen; Yale University Press, 2007; ISBN 0-300-07223-6
  5. ^ A. Hyatt King, "The Musical Glasses and Glass Harmonica", Proceedings of the Royal Musical Association, 72nd Session (1945–46): 97–122. Citation on 119.
  6. ^  
  7. ^ "Igor Sklyarov takes part in David Gilmour's Venetian concerts". 
  8. ^ "Shine On You Crazy Diamond Part I (Live in Gdansk - David Gilmour)". 

External links

  • [4] Glass harp-Toccata and fugue in D minor-Bach-BWV 565
  • J.S. Bach - Toccata and fugue in D minor by GlassDuo on musical glasses
  • bizbash Water Glasses
  • Gloria Parker Musical Glass site
  • Glass Duo glass harpers official website
  • Mozart: Adagio and Rondo K.617 for Glassharmonica and Quartet by Glass Duo
  • Anitras Dans (Anitra's Dance) Video - Third movement of the Suite No. 1 by Edvard Grieg at YouTube played by GlassDuo /glass harp/.
  • Glass Harp in David Gilmour's Venetian concerts - Glass Harp and "Shine On Your Crazy Diamond"
  • Grand Harmonicon, Baltimore, ca. 1830 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • [5] Petr Spatina in Skoda commercial
  • [6] Sugar Plum Fairy from "The Nutcracker" by P. Tchaikovsky
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