|Sometimes shortened to: harmonica, Also called: musical glasses a musical instrument of the 18th century consisting of a set of glass bowls of graduated pitches, played by rubbing the fingers over the moistened rims or by a keyboard mechanism|
musical instrument consisting of a set of graduated, tuned glass bowls sounded by the friction of wetted fingers on their rims. It was invented by Benjamin Franklin and was derived from the verillon (musical glasses), a set of glasses, holding different amounts of water and thus yielding different notes, placed on a soundboard and rubbed by moistened fingers or, rarely, struck with rods. The German composer Christoph Willibald Gluck performed his concerto for this instrument in London in 1746.
Learn more about glass harmonica with a free trial on Britannica.com.