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6 Odd musical instruments that you don't hear any more

Updated on September 10, 2013

Music is instrumental poetry. It is meditation for the mind, body and soul. Those with a keen ear for instruments will revel in the sweet sounds of the instruments used to compose a song, because each instrument serves an importance purpose in bringing the music together. But what about the instruments you’re not hearing?

Here is a list of a few musical instruments you’re probably not calling out in your “guess the instrument” game:

The Glass Armonica

You may think you created this genius concept in the back of the bar with your buddies, but performing music on the rim of wine glasses has been around since the 1750’s. It was Ben Franklin who simply took this to a whole new level with the Glass Armonica in 1761. The Glass Armonica is an instrument consisting of 37 glass bowls attached and turned on their sides. It’s a wonder to anyone why this instrument seemed to decline in popularity, especially since Mozart, Beethoven and Haydn all composed songs specifically for this instrument. Perhaps it was too high-risk (and there were also rumors that it drove people crazy).

The Hurdy Gurdy

What happens when bagpipes and the violin meet at a concert and later marry? You quite possibly end up with Hurdy Gurdies as offspring. This wooden stringed instrument functions similarly to a violin (and with single notes might actually sound like a violin) But on multiple drones sounds similar to bagpipes. Seriously, why aren’t we seeing more of these at major concerts?

The Tambourine

Is the tambourine the forgotten instrument? This shaker-thinga-a-ma-bob (if the little mermaid had found it) seems to have made less of a public appearance. While the jingle sounds soothing and exciting, it seems that most people have lost their interest in this instrument. However, Eve did try to give it a big comeback with her “Tambourine” song.

The Triangle

The triangle is actually a medieval instrument. This steel rod percussion instrument has been subjected to a bit of ridicule because many people believe that it doesn’t take much skill or effort to play. The triangle is said to have been associated with calling people to dinner. It was used in European classical music. The triangle has complex rhythms and there is some difficulty in controlling its level of volume. Although you may not hear it much, it was once considered to be quite important.

The Kazoo

The Kazoo is a wonderful lowly humming instrument that many believe doesn’t get the credit it deserves. This is probably why Kazoo appreciators in America have their very own National Kazoo Day . The first documented invention of the Kazoo dates back to 1883. It was used in a more lighthearted manner but has since been featured in some prominent songs. There have also been a few great moments in Kazoo history.

Bones and Spoons

Often associated with American Folk Music, the Bones and Spoons are “instruments” used in just about the same way. The desired sound from these is produced when they beat against each other before springing back to their original position. They are typically used by striking them against your knee or other body parts (to produce different sounds). What’s great about these instruments, if you ever decide to take them up, is that they’re not expensive to purchase. Just grab spoons from your kitchen drawer and bones from your lamb roast.

There are dozens more odd, interesting and seemingly useless instruments that you’re probably not hearing unless you’re digging deep into the world of folk and underground music (or if you’re starting a band on a budget) These strange instruments are just a reminder of the diversity, creativity and innovation that exists in music. There’s a place, instrument and festival for everyone.


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    • Ceres Schwarz profile image

      Ceres Schwarz 

      5 years ago

      Interesting hub on odd musical instruments. It appears that hardly any people would use these instruments as they might just opt for the usual ones like guitars and pianos, etc. I've also never heard of the glass armonica instrument.

    • Jetstream profile imageAUTHOR

      The Jetstream 

      5 years ago from South Africa

      Hi Zsuzsy, thanks for the feedback!

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image

      Zsuzsy Bee 

      5 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Hiya Jetstream this is a very interesting hub. I have never heard of an instrument called glass armonica. Thank you for sharing.

      regards Zsuzsy


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