27 July, 2015
Musical KitchenwareComments : 2 Posted in : fun, funny, humor, music, Uncategorized on by : Jeanette Rueb
I’m sure you’ve all heard of playing pots and pans and maybe even cups in the kitchen. Maybe you’ve seen the video of the guy playing the silverware drawer (if you haven’t, click on the link and you can watch it; it’s about a minute long). Impromptu instruments like these show you that he kitchen can be a very musical place.
Something you may have overlooked, though, is your glassware — specifically, crystal glassware. I inherited a small hand-me-down set from my parents around my birthday, and, not being a huge drinker, I haven’t used them very much, until now.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you: the glass harp.
Also known as musical glasses, singing glasses, angelic organ, verrilion, or ghost fiddle, the glass harp is an instrument that has been around since 1741, when it was invented by Richard Pockrich. Today, it is sometimes played as a concert instrument (solo or with minor accompaniment) or by street performers — at least, that is what YouTube seems to show.
The one I made in my kitchen only has five notes, but that’s because I only have so many glasses. It still sounds quite pretty:
That’s nothing, though. If you want to hear an impressive performance on a nice glass harp setup, check out this rendition of Tchaikovsky’s Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.
Okay, but how does it work, right?
There are a few variations that can be mixed and matched.
First, there’s the glasses. My version (as well as just about every street performer version I’ve seen) features glasses of various sizes and styles filled with water to create the desired pitch for each glass. This one is probably the easiest, since you can just pull glassware from your cupboards and fill it with water to make several different notes. You can tune them by ear, or you can use a tuner.
Alternatively, you can get a special set of glasses, like the performers in the Sugar Plum Fairy video had. Their glasses contained very little to no water, but were, instead, ground to the proper size, so that they would always play the same note. The water added would be used to fine tune the glasses further, as needed. As you can probably imagine, a set of glasses like those probably cost a pretty penny.
Once you have your glasses, next, you need to play them. There are two methods for this: water or chalk.
The harp’s angelic sound comes from vibrations in the glass, caused by the friction of your fingers against the rim. You can watch these vibrations in water-filled glasses.
Just running a dry finger along the rim won’t do, though. Water or chalk reduces some of the friction, so that your finger can glide around the rim of the glass without jerking it around. If you’re using water, it also seems to help if the rim of the glass is wet.
There you have the very basics of the glass harp! I hope you enjoyed this sidetrack from traditional foodie posts, and I hope you get the chance to have fun with some of your glassware!