Friday, 10 August 2018

The glass harmonica: a story of creativity and innovation (No.13)

To see the previous posts in this series click here.

Whilst inventing the glass harmonica, Benjamin Franklin used a variety of creative thinking and problem solving approaches. Four of these approaches stand out because of their simplicity.      

Here is the second approach:

Changing the angle from which a problem is addressed.

The glass harp, the forerunner of the glass harmonica, used a set of upright glasses filled with water to produce its music. It was awkward to transport and difficult to tune and play. 

Unsurprisingly, it had a very limited repertoire.

As soon as Franklin imagined the glasses at a different angle, positioned on their sides at right angles from those used in a glass harp, he was well on the way to inventing a fundamentally different instrument: one that did not need to be tuned, was relatively easy to transport and easier to play than its predecessor.

Again unsurprisingly, It would eventually gain a large repertoire; many composers, among them Mozart and Beethoven, would write for it.

By (in this case literally) changing the angle from which he addressed the problem, Franklin invented an extremely reliable and popular musical instrument.

To read the next post click here.   

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