A rare instrument called an armonica is coming to the South Burnett. Photo Contributed
A rare instrument called an armonica is coming to the South Burnett. Photo Contributed Contributed

Strange sounds coming to Nanango Healthy Life Expo

YOU can get a chance to hear one of the rarest musical instruments in the world at the Nanango Healthy Life Expo this weekend.

Few people have heard of the armonica (or glass harmonica), and due to its size and expense, but it actually has a long and varied history.

A musical cousin of the glass harp (the making of music upright wine glasses), the armonica makes sounds by spinning of glass bowls.

Nanango Healthy Life Expo organiser Cassie McMahon said listeners would get to experience something they have never heard before.

"It vibrates on a beautiful level, it sounds like heaven," Mrs McMahon said.

She first heard the instrument during a yoga lesson, where it was played by musical duo Phil and Chiho.

"So I've been begging these guys to come to town for the last few years," she said.

Although the instrument is a rarity in the modern world, it was once a very well-known musical instrument.

Noted composers, including Mozart, Beethoven and Strauss, composed works for the instrument and the most modern version of the instrument was actually invented by Benjamin Franklin.

Unfortunately its popularity waned in the 18th century when rumours spread that playing the instrument could be dangerous, due to the lead crystal used in the glass.

"That really wiped out the instrument," she said.

It eventually faded from the public sphere but now new musicians are learning the historical instrument.

The Nanango Healthy Life Expo is on at March 19 at Pioneer Park, in Nanango, from 10am-4pm.

There will be more than 100 stalls and exhibitions as well as live performances.

Admission is free.

For information, phone Dee Kirsch on 4163 3984.

Armonica facts

  • Mary Antoinette played the instrument.
  • The mechanical armonica was invented by Benjamin Franklin in 1761.
  • His version had 37 spinning bowls rotating on an iron spindle.
  • The music for the ballet version of Othello opens and closes with armonica music.
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