The Weirdest Instruments in the World

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Written By Tanya

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There are many unusual musical instruments. There are many unusual musical instruments, including brass, strings, and percussion.

21 Weird Instruments

Let’s take an in-depth look at some of the most bizarre and unusual instruments available. There are many options, such as the accordion or bagpipes, but we won’t include anything that isn’t already well-known.

Anything that looks like a common instrument will be left out. We will stick to the unusual and undiscovered, with no exceptions.

HYDRAULOPHONE

The hydraulophone is easy to understand if you are familiar with the workings of woodwind instruments, such as the different types of ocarinas and saxophones. It uses liquids such as water instead of pressurized air, as the name suggests.

This wet wonder was invented by Steven Mann in 1980 to assist people with visual impairments making music using touch. Blocking the holes with your fingers allows water to flow past the sound mechanism and air to be released at the specific pitch.

These pipes are so handy that people have made them into hot tubs called balnaphones. The pyrophone, which uses fire and combustion to pressurize pipes, is not recommended.

PIKASSO GUITAR

This harp guitar was named by Manzer, the designer. However, it doesn’t sound quite as bizarre as it seems.

Despite having four necks and 42 strings and two sound holes it sounds very normal. This is especially true when Pat Metheny, a master guitarist, uses the odd instrument.

THE YABAHAR

Gorkem Sen, an Istanbul musician, created the Yabahar to create a new type of acoustic instruments.

You can bow the strings that run along your neck and send vibrations down the coiled springs of each leg. This creates an extraordinary listening experience due to the echos and vibrations hitting drum membranes and returning up the springs. It is a very hypnotic and reverberant sound.

AEOLUS

Some of the instruments on this list are not intended for human use. The Aeolus is named after the Greek mythological ruler of winds and shipped all over the globe for people to enjoy in different parks.

It is described as an “acoustic pavilion” that makes audible the quiet shifting patterns of wind. It is an aeolian Harp that lets the wind vibrate the tubes and project the sound into its center.

If you are a more serious baller than me, this ornament is available for purchase. If you like this installation, you might also be interested in similar installations such as the Singing Ringing Tree.

THEREMIN

The theremin, which is a dual radio transmitter/receiver, generates a static electromagnetic field between the antenna loop and the loop. This allows the player to manipulate the field using their hands to change the pitch.

Leon Theremin, a Soviet inventor, invented the theremin in 1928. Although it is still a novelty, it has been featured in a few movies soundtracks and concerts. However, it will never be a mainstream instrument due to its limitations and the haunting, creepy sound it makes.

These are not only useful, but they also make it easy to attach them in taxidermist-stuffed animals like the Badgermin.

MACHINE MARBLE

Martin Molic, mad man and member of Wintergatan, inventor of the Marble Machine, revealed his custom music box in 2016.

This thing is amazing, not only because of the incredible woodworking and musical talent involved but also because it’s powered continuously by a hand crank which passes 2,000 marbles through.

They drop in at the top, and gravity takes care of the rest. There are many paths that the marbles can take to play different melodies.

ZEUSAPHONE

The Zeusaphone, which is essentially a Tesla coil, has had its electrical output altered to allow software or a MIDI device like a keyboard and guitar to be manipulated. The player can control the tones emitted, creating a low-fi square wave synthesizer sound.

These speakers are called ‘plasma speakers’ and sound very scary. These are used by bands for live shows and by nerds who use their zeusaphones to play the music from video games.

THE JEW’S HARP

There are many lamellophones that can be used, but the Jew’s Harp is the most bizarre. Because of their long thin metal plates that look like tongues, they’re sometimes called linguaphones.

These instruments have many names, including jaw’s harp and ozark, guimbard and juice harp. It’s been around the globe since its inception, which dates back to the 4th Century BC. Names have changed based on the sound of the name before it.

Simply hold the doohickey between your teeth and use your tongue to alter your pitch.

GLASS ARMONICA

This extremely fragile and unique instrument, which made its debut in 1762, was actually designed by Benjamin Franklin . Mozart composed two pieces for the glass armonia. One was a solo, the other part of the quintet.

The trend was also adopted by Beethoven. Armonia, an Italian word that means harmony, is the name of the trend. The glass bowls spin as your damp fingers rub against the rim. This creates a vibration similar to a wine glass.

THE SHARPSICHORD

Henry Dagg, a sound sculptor from the English Folk Dance & Song Society, was awarded PS56,000 in 2011 to create three music installations. He instead spent more money and increased his budget to PS90,000. However, he only created the Sharpsichord.

He could only play 90 seconds of music for five years! He decided to buy the instrument he commissioned instead of giving it to them. It’s an automatic acoustic guitar harp with 11,520 holes. Pins can be used to pick the strings.

It’s solar powered, which is the best thing about it. It sounds like a combination of a harp or a bass clarinet.

HANG DRUM

The Hang, also known as a hang drum or handpan, was created in 2000 in Switzerland. It was the result of a study on steel instruments which led to the discovery of a new type. This instrument sounds more like a set bells than a drum.

To allow different notes to be played, the dimples that surround the curving surface are hammered in at a specific interval. This design was inspired by the steelpan trend of the 1970’s, when steelpan moved from Trinidad to Europe.

THE CHRYSALIS

Cris Forster built many instruments. His first concert-sized instrument, The Chrysalis was his first. It is a stringed instrument that looks like a wheel. The spokes are tuned strings and can make sounds that are similar to the wind.

It was inspired by Forster’s fascination with the large stone Aztec calendar, which made huge waves in the New Age community, much as Solfeggio Frequencies do now.

THE NELLOPHONE

While long tubes are not uncommon, instruments made of them are not uncommon. The Nellophone is unique in that it can project multiple pitches loudly and is large. The 30 pipes that make up this octopus-looking instrument are tuned to different notes in various octaves.

The player can create an electronic sounding melody by slapping the paddles across the tubes. The entire Nellophone measures 12 feet in width and 15 feet in height.

NOSE FLUTE

This all started in ancient Polynesia, where people started to play standard flutes by pushing them up their noses. They weren’t being silly.

By exhaling the air from their noses, they realized that their mouths could be used to create melodies by changing the pitch of the notes. This enabled simpler flutes and variable sliding notes to become possible, rather than just discrete steps of covering holes.

The you see above is a humanatone which can be used to distinguish it from a basic flute that is placed inside or in front of the nose. A nose flute can be purchased for a very affordable price these days.

HURDY-GURDY

A knucklehead once said that he hated bowing the violin. This was before the 11th Century AD. Why not make a wheel that rubs the strings for me? While I’m at the wheel, I’ll make it sound more like a piano. We are now blessed with the wheel fiddle or hurdygurdy.

A crank is used to vibrate the strings. Keys that are pressed like keys are used to press them like keyboard keys are used to do so.

It is not clear if this organistrum was created by a musician from Europe or the Middle East, but it has spread quickly wherever it was found. Similar instruments can be found in the Nyckelharpa, which dates back to 1350 AD in Sweden.

DIGDERIDOO

This drone pipe, also known as the didjeridu or the didjeridu is an invention of the Australian aboriginal peoples. It was created sometime in the past 1500 years. It is typically about 4 feet in length, but it can be as long as 3-10 feet.

The shorter ones have a deeper pitch, while the flared end has a higher pitch. This allows them to be tuned as they are built. If you play the droning sound for too long, your lips can become numb.

The most skilled players can use circular breathing to keep their mouth open and continue to hum for as long as they need. There are recordings of people being able to go for as long as 50 minutes.

THE GREAT STALACPIPE ORGAN

The Luray Caverns, Virginia, USA made this giant lithophone. It’s an electrically-actuated organ designed to use rubber mallets to gently tap the hanging stalactites, causing them to ring out the most beautiful tones, resembling those of hand bells.

Leland W. Sprinkle spent just over three years designing and putting it together this strange musical instrument. The Stalacpipe Organ was introduced in 1956 and has been a fixture of Shenandoah since.

CHAPMAN STICK

Despite its similar appearance to guitars or basses, the Chapman Stick has far greater versatility than those instruments.

This device was invented by Emmett Chapman back in 1970. It has 12 strings that can be tuned in such a way that the player can play all the notes, chords and bass lines simultaneously or one at a while playing a particular role in a band.

It is a polyphonic chordal instrument that can be played in any key. Your skill level is the only limit.

JANKO KEYBOARD

Although it is a bit unusual, we feel it’s worth sharing. This is a piano keyboard that has been laid out in a different orientation, much like how synthesizer players stack their synthesizers.

Paul von Janko invented it in 1882. It allows players to easily transcribe songs and reach higher notes. This is because every chord now has the same fingering, regardless of which key it’s in. To change keys, you can move up or down on the keyboard.

This brilliant invention truly opens up the worlds of piano to those who don’t want to memorize every chord variation in every key or scale.

THE EARTH HARP

William Close invented the Harp, which can be moved and reinstalled in any landscape or architecture. The theater is the instrument. The audience hears the music through the instrument.

Close has run the strings nearly 1000 feet across canyons, connecting to mountains, and more. To create symphonic sounds, special gloves are coated with violin rosin. These tones are then captured and amplified using a microphone. It’s not exactly a clever trick, but it elevates the fun to a whole new level.

Similar instruments exist, such as the Friction Harp. Vibrations are created within pipes by rubbing them with rosined hands.

AZTEC DEATH WHISTLE

These ” death whistles” were only recently discovered. Although they were initially dismissed as toys, they are even scarier. These were used by warriors to psychologically attack their enemies before they went to war. They could play hundreds at once, scaring them off.

They sound almost like the most hysterical and angry people, perhaps the undead, screaming at the tops of their lungs. The more you blow, the louder the screaming.

Multiply that number by how many warriors you have in your tribe. When you hear it, it will send chills down your spine.

These Weird Musical Instruments Are Strange But Very Cool!

Some instruments were too bizarre, like the organ made of ice, 12 neck guitars, giant music boxes made with roller-compators and the Loophonium (an euphonium created from a toilet). Other items that are used to create music were also excluded, such as the conch and bowing a barbedwire fence fence, etc.

There are many weird instruments, but these 21 are the best. You can either invent your own instrument or share this post with someone else using the buttons below.

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