Crystal sounds and glass instruments

A glass instrument immediately brings an imaginary. Crystal clear sound, delicate resonance, fragile beauty… There are several ways to use glass for the manufacture of musical instruments, such as an idiophone, as a resonator or even as a bow! I show you :


With idiophones, we use the vibration of the material itself, the sound of glass in every forms:

The glass marimba uses glass bars over glass resonators. The glass bars are tuned according to the length and the shape of the bars, the resonators are containers for an air column, tuned according to the length of the tube, the same note as the glass bar.

The glass armonica was invented by Benjamin Franklin, a series of tuned glass bowls rotating on an axis, played with wet fingers, the same way we play wine glasses at the end of the lunch…

The glass harp, the glasses are tuned with the level of the water inside, the note goes down when you fill it!

The bottlephone, the bottles are also tuned with the water level, but it is the hit on the glass that produces the sound.


The glass can also be used as a resonance box :

ou air column for wind instruments :

blown or percuted. Yes, percuted pipes are wind instruments, or aerophones, it is the air enclosed in the pipe that resonates and not the material of the pipe!


The glass is used as bow in the magnificent instrument from Baschet brothers, the cristal Baschet :

Here it is a little technical : the glass rods are rubbed with the wet fingers, the vibration of the rods makes no sound, but put in vibration the stems and block they are fixed with. This set of metal stems and rods is tuned, its vibration is then transmitted to the metal base, then to the pavilions, for a very unique sound!

We finish with the Crystal Harmony, a trio of glass instruments players, tuned glasses, tuned bass tubes and crystal pan flute!

Do not hesitate to extend the list in the comments, and to subscribe to not miss the next articles!

About Nicolas Bras 16 Articles
Homemade Instrument maker, rare and strange instrument seeker / Bricoleur d'instruments, chercheur d'instruments rares


  1. Beautiful sounds and music, only wished the titles of the pieces were included with each post. Another “unusual” musical instrument (though not in the class of these) is the carillon. Though not as popular as in the past I am sure wherever they are played they are appreciated.

  2. Thank you very much for putting together this collection Nicolas. I would_love_to hear higher quality audio versions of these instruments. I’m guessing the resonances that they develop would come through much more clearly.

  3. Hi, my name is Pax Bittar and I’m a brazillian musician who played glass instruments whith an orchestra named Orquestra de Objetos Desinventados. We use aquariums, bowls, vases and other objects. Here is a video of a song called Asa Branca, Thanks.

  4. I am a little surprised that you didn’t include ice instruments this time. Look up Terje Isungset for examples and inspiration.

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