reflections songs

Glass Harp Creativity

August 29, 2012

I was recently mesmerized by this amazing video of a man playing Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring on wine glasses (also, known as a glass harp when assembled in this manner):

But it’s not just a man on the street corner in Virginia who can do this:

When I was a child, after a traveling ministry team visited our church and played a song using a row of glasses, I figured out how to play a couple of easy melodies using my mom’s three or four kitchen glasses. It was maybe three or four glasses, and I just did on them what I did picking out tunes by ear on the piano (which was sadly about as far as I got on the piano, too). Anyone who can play by ear could do the same. And the ministry team lined up a line of glasses, maybe 10 total? But this? It has much more advanced precision, using two hands at once, using glasses that aren’t just filled and randomly guessed a tune as a result. Perfecting the water levels, and then remembering where each glass is for each note requires skill and practice of an entirely different level.

It also made me think about how something like this must could about today. In our modern form of musical development, most of us don’t just sit around and figure stuff like this out or come up. If we want to learn an instrument, we typically select an instrument that has been well-developed through the years and take lessons and learn to read music. Of course, the glass harp has been around since 1741, and maybe before then in unknown form. It’s not new, just rare.

But how often do we hear of a new instrument being invented and popularized in our country? There are lots of other rare instruments and electronic versions of older instrument. And then, there’s the theremin. (And I realize, there are people who can make music and rhythm out of just about anything.)

In Genesis 4, Jubal was called the “father of all who play stringed instruments and pipes.” He was the son of Lamech (Genesis 4:19-21), and Lamech fathered his first son at age 182, eventually living to be 777 years (Gen 5:31). We don’t know Jubal’s lifespan, but we can likely assume it was several centuries given the lifespan of others during that time (of course, he could have been eaten by a dinosaur or some other had some other tragic life ending.) Skill and creativity require time to develop, even for the particularly gifted. Maybe that’s why Jubal got so good at what he did?
Likely, I’m ready to be proven wrong now. I’ve discovered many amazing instruments in other countries and cultures (some made out of Coke and Fanta bottles). I’m certain there are all sorts of new instruments in the United States. But I am waiting to hear about them. 🙂 Or see a couple of them make the cover on the next hit album.
Ah yes, rabbit trails…

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  • Grace August 29, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    That is so cool! Never seen anything like that!! I hope the passersby gave him a lot of money. Interesting rabbit trails, too.