November 01, 2010

Student Blog by Katharine Hormann: J.S. Bach House in Eisenach

Going to the Bach house was an awesome experience. One of the things that I enjoyed most was being able to hear some of the instruments from his collection. I actually got to take part in one demonstration of a house organ. There were these leather straps, rather like the size and length of a belt you would loop through your pants, and you were to tug on them in alternating motions to pump the air into the organ. The sound was soft, and it made sense that it was called a “house” organ. It was smaller than that of a church organ and it was not as grand sounding, because it was for practicing in your home. The room where we all were had many instruments. Just a few of what were in Bach’s musical collection. Bach’s collection consists of over 500 instruments. Some of which are not made anymore or are rare, such as the violin trumpet, the 7 stringed cello, mediaeval flutes, and bassoons the shape of a slithering snake. Another instrument that was in the museum was created by Benjamin Franklin. It was called the “Glass Harmonica.” I thought that this was one of the coolest things I had seen in a longtime. Have you ever filled up wine glasses and wetted the tip of your finger then ran it around the rim of the glass? You know that sound? That is what this instrument sounded like. That was actually how you played it was well. It was so clever, but that’s Franklin for you. My favorite instrument in the entire museum, however, would have to have been the double bass. It was so beautiful! I play the bass, so naturally I really wanted to take this home with me. I noticed that the strings weren’t how they are made today (which is copper cords with a silver metal wrapped around them). These strings were made of what seemed to be hide, or possibly intestines. Then wrapped around the two lower strings was some sort of metal. I wonder how it would have sounded, had I played it.

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