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Hydrodaktulopsychicharmonica Recital in Chard

Roy Davies was searching the Museum's document archives and found a programme for a Public Recital by Mrs. Beamont Walford in the Corn Exchange, Chard on Friday March 18th, 1938. This set us on a search to understand what exactly a hydrodaktulopyschichamronica was and how it had developed.

Some digging found that one of the earliest mentions of the phenomenon of rubbing a wet finger around the rim of a wine goblet to produce tones was found in Two New Sciences written by Galileo. Historians have suggested that there is also evidence of metal singing bowls being used in religious ceremonies in China as far back as two thousand years.

It has been suggested that the first to play music on glass goblets was an Irish musician called Richard Pockrican. He allegedly invented his angelic organ in 1741. He travelled throughout England, and quickly popularised the glass organ by performing both popular songs and works by prominent composers.

It seems that Gluck was one of the first composers to write music for the glass harp. This is supported by his Concerto on 26 drinking-glasses tuned with Springwater dating back to 1746. The musical sound of glasses was so engaging that several inventors developed their instruments simultaneously, all based on the singing-glasses principle.

The hydrodaktulopyschichamronica, or glass armonica or bowl organ is one of many curious instruments that came into use with small ensembles during the transition from the Baroque to Classical music periods.

One successful model, where glass bowls were strung on a metal rod revolved by a foot actuator was designed by Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States in 1761.

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