While Franklin was traveling in Europe, he witnessed an amateur musician play on a set of "singing glasses," producing clear, ringing sounds by rubbing a moistened finger on the rims of wine glasses filled with varying levels of water.  Franklin being intrigued by what he saw on his travels, worked to create an instrument that incorporated the elements of the singing glasses. He selected different-sized wine glasses, removed the stems, drilled holes in the bottoms of the glasses, and corked the holes. The glasses were arranged in order of increasing size on a horizontal spindle, which could be rotated by a foot treadle. Musicians played the glass harmonica by touching moistened fingers to the edges of the glasses while rotating them with the pedal. The glass harmonica fell out of favor in the mid-nineteenth century, but is currently making a comeback because of the efforts of a German glassblower.

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