Monday, 23 July 2018

The glass harmonica: a story of creativity and innovation (No.7)

To see the previous posts in this series click here.

The history of the glass harmonica provides important insights into the nature of the innovative process. Five aspects are particularly significant. 

Here is the first aspect:

Innovation often begins with some sort of personally inspiring and catalytic event. This event has some specific characteristics.

In the case of the glass harmonica, the catalytic event that inspired Franklin was watching and listening to a colleague (Edward Delaval, a member of the Royal Society) play the glass harp

The following four things contributed to this performance being personally inspiring and catalytic for Franklin:
  1. It was public and high profile.
  2. It was credible in terms of both the quality of the content (in this case the music produced) and the status of the audience (which included members of the Royal Society).
  3. Franklin had a pre-existing personal or at least professional connection with one of the 'key players'. This would have encouraged him to engage with and appreciate the performance.   
  4. It was memorable because it engaged with not only people's intellects but also their emotions.     
The performance captured Franklin's interest and enthusiasm and kickstarted his commitment towards creating a new and improved instrument: one that could produce musical sounds more beautifully, efficiently and effectively than wine glasses that were fragile and difficult to transport (and each of which needed to be filled with a precise measure of water to produce a specific tone).

To read the next post click here.   

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