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Nail Violin

The Nail Violin (or Nail Harmonica) was an odd instrument invented in the 18th century. It consisted of a semicircular soundboard with nails fastened around the outside edge, graduating in size so as to produce different pitches. The board was held in the left hand, and then the nails were made to vibrate using a bow, which was held in the right hand. The instrument was never taken too seriously, although it was widespread in Europe, and eventually made its way to New York, where the first public performance took place in 1786, when Peter Van Hagen publicly performed “a solo upon iron nails.”

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