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10 Weird Musical Instruments

Updated on February 1, 2016

Music has inspired many people and there are countless masterpieces played on every type of classical instrument. I emphasize on the word classical. Just recently I discovered there are all kinds of strange instruments that can produce sound, which is truly one of a kind. Here are a few of them.

Weird Musical Instrument #1. The Otamatone

The otomatone is a Japanese toy in the form of musical note with a funny face. You need two hands to play it. One to hold and squeeze the base, and the other to slide over the stem. According to the differences in pressure on the base and the sliding over the stem decides the tone it's going to produce.

On the Internet it gained its popularity as the most obnoxious instrument ever, and people maybe really be on to something here. More information about the otamatone, as well as performances you can find on the official website.

Weird Musical Instrument #2. The Theremin

The theremin is the first electronic instrument ever created (1929). The most interesting thing about it, is that it can be played without being touched. It consists of two antennas, which detect the proximity of the hands, according to which it produces sound. One antenna is responsible for volume, while the other produces the type of frequency.

The sound it makes is very eerie, which is why the theremin was used to make music for old "dark" movies. More about the theremin here.

Weird Musical Instrument #3. Laser Harp

The laser harp is an electronic instrument, popularized by Jean Michel Jarre. It uses a multitude of beams, each possessing its own timbre. Blocking the beams produces a sound, depending on the height of the blockage. It's used for musical performances, as well as art exhibitions around the world.

Weird Musical Instrument #4. Glass Armonica

A glass armonica is literally a spinning stick shoved through a lot of glass bowls. Just like there are musicians that can produce beautiful sound from circling the tips of their fingers around the edge of glasses, the glass armonica makes the process easier. The musician only touches, while the bowls spin by themselves.

Weird Musical Instrument #5. The Zeusaphone

If only Tesla knew what people would use his most famous invention for... The zeusaphone, or otherwise called "Singing Tesla Coil", is literally two or more tesla coils, modified in order to produce sparks with different note sounds. More information about the singing tesla coil - here.

Weird Musical Instrument #6. Wheel Harp

The wheelharp is a keyboard-operated string instrument for continuously sounding strings by rubbing the strings with spinning wheels, powered by a treadle controlled by one foot of the musician. It is a fairly new invention, it debuted in 2013 and is currently use for the making of movie soundtracks.

Weird Musical Instrument #7. The Singing Ringing Tree

In 2006, in Lancashire, England, an amazing sound sculpture was finished, and poetically called The Singing Ringing Tree. It's a three metre tall construction, made entirely of steel pipes, which use the wind to produce sound in a few different octaves.

In 2007, it won the National Award of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) for architectural excellence.

Weird Musical Instrument #8. The Stylophone

Invented in 1967, the stylophone is an electronic musical instrument with a metal keyboard, that uses high voltage to produce sound, when a metal pointer hits the corresponding key.

Weird Musical Instrument #9. The Mbira (Thumb Piano)

This one has a lot of names - mbira, kalimba, likembre, karimbao, and many more. It is an African musical instrument made of a wooden board and attached staggered metal tines, played by using only your thumbs. In the hands (thumbs) of the right person, it can produce very beautiful melodies.

Weird Musical Instrument #10. The Katzenklavier (Cat Piano)

Once upon a time in 18th century Germany, people had very sadistic ideas. The Cat Piano consisted of a line of cats, arranged based on the tone of their voice and strapped so they won't be able to move. Playing the piano behind them would cause the corresponding cat's tale to be slashed, so the cat can cry in pain.

This "musical" instrument was prescribed by physicians for people with trouble to focus their attention, as well as a cure for depression.

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