While doing something else today, I learned something about one of my favorite figures from history that I didn’t know before: Benjamin Franklin was a guitarist, as well as a harpist, violad de gabaist, and he invented something called the glass armonica, which he played with Sally, his daughter.

He affirmed in his writings: “Of all of my inventions, the glass armonica has given me the most personal satisfaction.”

I highly doubt you can find one at Guitar Center today.

Of the “commercial” music of his time, Franklin wrote to his brother, Peter:

“Do not imagine that I mean to depreciate the skill of our composers of music here; they are admirable at pleasing pracisdearss and know how to delight one another; but in in composing for song, the reigning taste seems to be quite out of nature, or rather the reverse of nature.”

In other words, I think he meant to write that the music was commercial crap and that he couldn’t stand it.

He may have written a tune about alcohol as a teenager (Think of a 18th Century version of Cold Gin from the first Kiss album), but this is among debate by historians because of the way his name is spelled: Francklin.  Furthermore, the piece is never mentioned in any of his later written compositions.

The piece seemed to vanish from history under French musicologist, Guillaume de Van located it while sorting classical material.  It is said to be rarely played because it is considered to be weird-sounding, as it’s composed for three violins, and a cello.  It seems that much of the music from this time was composed for two violins, a viola, and a scordatura (don’t ask me what that is).  Franklin’s peers of the time thought it was degrading, miserable, and a joke.

Okay, so it’s an 18th Century version of the Mothers of Invention, big deal.



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