How to Rub the Rim of a Glass to Make a Musical Note

by Marguerite Lance
To play a your wine glass as an instrument, lose the wine and fill it with water.

To play a your wine glass as an instrument, lose the wine and fill it with water.

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Known as the "glass harp" or "musical glasses," people have been filling glasses with water and playing them hundreds of years. Galileo even wrote about musical glasses in his 1738 treatise "Dialogues Concerning Two New Sciences." Such glasses were made particularly popular by Pockridge and Gluck in the 1700s in England. According to, musical glasses were also the inspiration for Benjamin Franklin's famous armonica, which he invented to be a more convenient way to play glasses. Even today, professionals and laypersons alike enjoy filling glasses with water and rubbing the rims to make music.

Items you will need

  • Wine glass
  • Water
  • Soap
Step 1

Add water to a wine glass. The more water you add, the lower the pitch of the note the wine glass will produce. When the glass is "played," the empty portion of the glass resonates, producing a ringing, bell-like note.

Step 2

Thoroughly clean the forefinger on your dominant hand with soap and water. Allow your forefinger to stay slightly wet.

Step 3

Gently move your dominant forefinger around the edge, or lip, of the wineglass in a clockwise, circular motion; the wineglass will make a sound. Add more water or pour out some water and listen to the different pitches it produces.

Tips & Warnings

  • Fill several wine glasses with different amounts of water. Run your fingers along different glasses to play a song.

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Photo Credits

  • Hemera Technologies/ Images