Historical Tidbits

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Historical Tidbits

Send me fun history facts about American music!

The FIRST musical instrument to receive a patent in America (which makes it officially the first musical instrument of any kind, recognized in America) was invented in 1761 by Benjamin Franklin and he called it GLASS ARMONICA.  

You can read all about it here:

The Queen of Glass Music: Franklin's "Armonica"

    "The most important development in glass music came when, in 1761, young was so impressed by the instrument that he looked for a way to improve it. As he wrote to his friend, Giovanni Battista Beccaria, in Italy:    

    "Being charmed by the sweetness of its tones, and the music he produced from it, I wished only to see the glasses disposed in a more convenient form, and brought together in a narrower compass, so as to admit a greater number of tones, and all within reach of hand to a person sitting before the instrument (...)"

   "Franklin chose 24 glass bowls,  had them tuned by grinding,  and mounted them concentrically on a horizontal rod.  Driven by a treadle (very much like an old-fashioned sewing machine), the glasses spun around, and the player had only to touch the glasses with wet fingers. Franklin called the instrument the “armonica”, “in honor of your (i.e. the Italian) musical language”.  The World of Glass Music"


George Washington loved to dance!!

          When I was in grade school, I went on a tour of Mount Vernon. As a child of a carpenter/architect, I was highly impressed when the tour guide told me that George didn't use a dining room table. He just used boards and sawhorses covered with a nice tablecloth. You couldn't tell it wasn't a table with the dining cloth on it. Later when I joined Firelands Dulcimer Club, I came across George Washington's favorite dance tune. Then it all made sense. The dining room can quickly become a dance floor when the table is removed. I have since been back to Mount Vernon. Tour guide said that it is not really known whether or not George used the boards and sawhorses but it is thought that he had small tables that could be easily moved out to make a dance floor. My guess is that he used the boards and sawhorses until he had purchased the tables. It is certain that the man danced!


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Barbara F. Gregory, Columbus, Ohio

Last modified: January 19, 2014