In the 1760s, Benjamin Franklin modified the traditional "musical glasses" into the more elegant and playable "glass harmonica." Its gentle yet irresistibly resonant sound inspired analogies with feminine voices and souls: the instrument was represented as a "sister" and even as a physical extension of the woman performer. By the late 1780s, enthusiasm for its sound was tempered by concern over physical and moral dangers it posed to listeners and players. Its reputation waxed and waned with that of Dr. Franz Mesmer, who used it in his "magnetic" therapies. For the Gothic and early Romantic era, the armonica was no mere object for making music, but a focus for fantasies about ideal music itself. Yet while its sound remained a literary sign of inspiration and esoteric knowledge, the instrument lost its prestigious place in musical practice. Its feminine associations, once the secret to its magical potency, ultimately became a liability.

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