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The Rose Armonica

Sunday, May 3, 2009

One of Ben Franklin’s most beautiful failures was his “Rose Armonica” a delicate construction that replaced the keys of an organ with roses. Each petal of the Armonica had a thread pulling a stopper to a whistle. Each rose determined a different note, though the various petals determined various hues of sharpness, flatness or “textures” a facet the meaning of which is lost to history. The sharps and flats took the musicality of this instrument well outside the usual octave of Western music, a point that was not initially grasped by Franklin.

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