Musical Glasses, Metal Reeds and Broken Hearts

Two Cases of Melancholia Treated by New Musical Instruments

Authored by: Carmel Raz , Stanley Finger

The Routledge Companion to Music, Mind and Well-Being

Print publication date:  December  2018
Online publication date:  December  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138057760
eBook ISBN: 9781315164717
Adobe ISBN:


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Music, and therefore musical instruments, have been used to treat illnesses since antiquity. In 1761, Benjamin Franklin invented the glass armonica, an instrument he employed for pleasure, but also to treat a distraught Polish princess for melancholia. The aeolodicon, an early harmonium, was invented around 1809, and a few years later Peter Joseph Schneider reported that he had used it to cure a young woman suffering from a similar affliction. These reports of music-based therapeutics are examined here, along with thoughts about why Franklin and Schneider might have selected these newly-invented musical instruments to treat melancholia.

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