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Benjamin Franklin's Armonica: A Water Music Instrument

Water History and Culture

  1. William E. Marks

Published Online: 15 APR 2005

DOI: 10.1002/047147844X.wh3

Water Encyclopedia

Water Encyclopedia

How to Cite

Marks, W. E. 2005. Benjamin Franklin's Armonica: A Water Music Instrument. Water Encyclopedia. 4:758–762.

Author Information

  1. Water Consciousness, Inc., Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 APR 2005


The art of creating music from water-filled glass receptacles is probably as ancient as glassmaking. Some music scholars date the phenomenon of water music back to 2500 b.c. Because this time predates recorded history, all we have as documentation are references in early folklore and tales.

In the ancient days of Pythagoras, a variety of music was composed by musicians using water-filled bowls that held different levels of water. This use of creating water music according to a mathematical scale, resonated with Pythagorean philosophy, which believed in transmigration of the soul and a related belief in a numerical scale.

In Persia, where some methods of their glassblowing techniques remain a mystery to this day, we find accounts, as early as the fourteenth century, of water music being played from glasses. Largely because glass music was often played by amateur performers who created their own folk music, glass music has a history that is obscure and mysterious.


  • water music;
  • water-filled glass receptacles;
  • Handel's Water Music;
  • water-filled glass;
  • Franklin's “Armonica”