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Interestingly Unique Music ~ Top 10

Updated on March 3, 2014

Unusual Musical Instruments

I truly love music in every part of me! I love how it sounds and how it makes me feel. I love to play and create music. It is enjoyable to listen to the many styles of music that are special each in their own ways. Musical sounds are amazing!

But what exactly is music and what constitutes a musical instrument? According to YourDictionary.com, music is "the art and science of combining vocal or instrumental sounds or tones in varying melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre, esp. so as to form structurally complete and emotionally expressive compositions." The Free Dictionary describes musical instruments as "any of various devices or contrivances that can be used to produce musical tones or sounds".Wikipedia describes musical instruments as somethings which is "constructed or used for the purpose of making the sounds of music. In principle, anything that produces sound can serve as a musical instrument."

So, does that mean that any sound may be made into music? Is it possible to design anything into a musical instrument? I was curious and decided to research non-traditional instruments. I wanted to find out what types of experimental instruments have been created by inventors and listen to what they sounded like. Would unusual instruments just be weird and annoying, or would they be able to produce pleasing tones by themselves or combined with other sounds that people like to hear?

I was recently discussing with a friend how at times there appears to be a fine line between genius and insanity when it comes to new ideas. You may feel that some of the following instruments on my top ten list are insane, or you may decide to classify them as genius creations. Either way, I think you will enjoy some of the "unusual instruments" and musical groups that like to experiment with unique combinations of sounds!

Please vote at the bottom for your favorite on my top ten list and leave me a message about what you think of these original musicians!

Photo of Khloy Aerophones

Unusual Instruments #10

Unusual Instruments! - The Start of my Curious Search!

When I began my search for "unusual" and unique musical instruments and music, I was really surprised how many I was able to find easily! It became overwhelming to narrow it down to 10, so I tried to break it up into 10 related groups of music. This section contains some of the places that I enjoyed searching. If you are a music buff, too, you will find the following links interesting because of the original instrument pictures and sounds. Have fun looking!

~ *Odd Music Gallery: "Oddmusic.com was launched in 1999. Initially designed as a small niche site for odd and experimental music lovers, it has far exceeded its original concept, gaining a broad worldwide audience, ranging from musical instrument inventors and musicians, to researchers, educators, students, curious web surfers, and fans of odd music world wide, opening a window to the world of odd, unique, experimental and unusual music and musical instruments."

~ **Godfried-Willem Raes has a "Catalogue of instruments and automats (Chronological)" that you don't want to miss! Check out pictures of truly unique instruments, or click on their names to find out about their sound production. I only wish there were sound clips for these contraptions!!

Toetkuip: "The "instrument" is built onto a triangular frame and consists of a galvanised steel bathtub, 24 hooters, a strong compressor, originally an Epson HX-20 laptop computer, later replaced by a Basic Stamp controller running the same programs and since 2005 by a midi controllable PIC microprocessor, heavy duty fork-lift batteries (they allow 4 hours of uninterrupted playing) and of course a lot of water."

Autosax: "instrument is an automated and computer controlled acoustical saxophone".

~ Magical Music: 5 of the World's Weirdest Instruments: Read about and listen to 5 weird instruments from around the world: The Uberorgan, The Great Stalacpipe Organ, The Nano Guitar, Croatia's Sea Organ, and The Viennese Vegetable Orchestra.

~ The Uberorgan: Learn more about the creator, Artist Tim Hawkinson, and instruments in this interview and video from the PBS television series Art:21.

Unusual Instruments #9

Aharon Kotlar - Unique Musician!

I couldn't find any information about this gentleman from Israel, but he sure has some unusual talents on his "instruments" ~ balloons, air pumps, saws, bottles, hair dryer ...

Unusual Instruments #8

Sonata for Unusual Instruments! - A little of this, a little of that!

This set of music videos consists of everything: pipes, hoses, tubes, bottles, boxes, toys, lasers, bicycle parts, ladders, water, metals, inhailers, construction cones, hats, chairs, brooms, watering can, crutches, water faucets, vacuum parts, bricks, shampoo bottles, bed frame, and plain old junk!!

As a woodwind player, my favorites are from Xavi Lozano (the 1st two) who seems to make a terrific sound out of everything that he blows into!

{I think my family is afraid I will be trying this with objects around our home now ...

hhmmm, I wonder what the living room lamp would sound like if I blew into it ... ?}


Unusual Instruments #7

Ode to Computers! - Computer Part Musicians

I wonder what classical composers would have thought about these?

Computers, software, floppy disk drives, scanners, printers, motors, wires, and Pikachus?


Unusual Instruments #6

Musical Vegetables, Fruits, and Eggs - Should we eat them or play them?

I've heard of dinner music, but this is ridiculous! Enjoy this very creative gentleman and his tasty, nutritious, whoops, I mean pretty sounding instruments. The first video introduces the instruments of his veggie orchestra, followed by "Angels We Have Heard on High" on broccoli, a radish concerto, carrot panpipes, "When the Saints Go Marching In" on an egg, trumpet made with a carrot, pepper, and cucumber, "London Bridge" on an apple, "Lightly Row" on cabbage, and a watermelon tune. Don't miss the last video about how to create a carrot instrument for yourself! (I just knew you were curious!) You will never look at vegetables the same way again after this! Don't forget to play - uhm - eat 5 veggies a day!


Unusual Instruments #5

Spectrasonics Omnisphere Synthesizer - Psychoacoustic Sampling

I'm an acoustic musician, but have always been fascinated by electronic samplings and the science of acoustics. The first video discusses how the Spectrasonics company recorded and sampled unique sounds and changed them into pleasing tones. Very interesting process ~ except, I almost cried at the piano burning section!! The second video is a demonstration of some of the sounds and possibilities with the Omnisphere Synthesizer they created from their samplings. The others allow you to listen to songs which use the sounds. I would never be able to guess what made the original sounds if I had not researched them!! Cool stuff!

The Sound List from their website names these and tons of others as the synth's unique sounds: Active Grains of Picked Glass, Bass in the Microwave, Beat the Pipes, Bowed Bicycle, Burned Wasp Bass, Cat on the Piano, Cheese Hyperspace, Chickens in the Fuzzbox, Chinese Checkers, Choral Reef, Dancing Popcorn, Destroy the Fuzzy Tubes, Drops of Honey, Echos of Lightbulbs, Elephant Dynabender, Fry Me Up Some Bacon, Furious Squirrel Bass, Go Cart Putt Putt, Haunted Harpsichord, Insects Inside the Organ, Lounge Choir, Marimba Starship, Perk-o-later Rhumba, Piano Bowling, Plastic Ninja, Rusty Oil Can Bows, Sawing the Old Piano, Scratching the Itch, Spit Storm, squishy, Strong Acid Reflux, Tibetan Bowl Dopplergrains, and Tickle the Icicles! With some of the sounds, I don't even want to know!

Unusual Instruments #4

Animusic 1 & 2 - Computer animation video albums (both DVDs)
Animusic 1 & 2 - Computer animation video albums (both DVDs)

"Animusic will amaze and delight as extraordinary, intricate, invented musical instruments come to life and perform virtual concerts, with note for note precision. Cutting edge computer animation and a diverse collection of modern musical grooves and soundscapes deliver a stunning visual music experience! Animusic 1 presents 7 breathtaking music animations unlike anything you've seen before. Running Time: over 75 minutes. Animusic 2 includes 8 unique music computer animations - all in Widescreen and Fullscreen modes. Both Dolby 501 and 2.0 mixes. A stunning visual music experience!" ~ Amazon

 

Unusual Instruments #3

Uakti
Uakti

Enjoy this imported DVD recording from Brazil in 2003.

 

Unusual Instruments #2

Blue Man Group
Blue Man Group

Blue Man Group

Masters of PVC Pipe Instruments & Color

Not only do the Blue Man Group create instruments out of unusal items, but they know how to make it sound fantastic! This group is full of true showmen who know how to get their audience's attention and keep it with their always surprising, funny, unique style of entertainment. Along with their original appearance, colorful homemade instruments, lighting techniques, video productions, and other original "props", their audiences never know what will happen!

So, what types of cool instruments do they use? What are they made of?

Find out about them with the descriptions below quoted from Wikipedia.

Photo Credits Thanks to Wikipedia

Strings

"Cimbalom - The Cimbalom is a delicate antique instrument from Hungary. It is similar to a Hammer Dulcimer except that it is larger and has thicker strings giving it a deeper, more resonant sound. It is normally played gently with soft mallets. When Blue Man Group hit it with drum sticks, it gives it an edgier sound.

Chapman Stick - The Chapman Stick is one of Blue Man Group's most utilized string instruments. It appears on both Audio and The Complex. It's also used throughout the live performances of the theatrical productions in New York, Boston, Chicago, Orlando and Las Vegas.

Hammered Dulcimer - This instrument is used for the intro of the song "Above".

The Piano Smasher - The Blue Man Group use a grand piano that has had its top removed and has been stood on its side. They play it by hitting the open strings with a large mallet.

Drums

The Drum Wall - The Drum Wall is a two-story structure with seven percussion stations. The Drum Wall is a permanent fixture of Blue Man Group-Live at Luxor and has been since a 1999 appearance on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno."

Paint Drums - these are used mostly during the Baba O'Riley song and on the drumbone song in German Music Awards. They place paint onto the head and hit it with drumsticks.

Airpoles

Sword Airpoles - The Sword Airpoles are short and thin, which makes them easier to control and more versatile than the other Airpoles. In the Las Vegas production, Sword Airpoles are played by the "Wire Men".

Angel Airpoles - The Angel Airpoles are made by connecting two poles at their thick ends. The result is a balanced instrument that can reach extremely fast tempos. The Angel Airpole is used in "TV Song" on Audio and is used live during "White Rabbit" on The Complex Rock Tour.

Wiper Airpoles - Wiper Airpoles are extra long (up to 18 feet), which makes it possible to play the instruments at slower tempos.

Pipes and tubes

PVC Pipes - The unique sound of Blue Man Group's PVC instrument is achieved when polyvinyl chloride pipes are struck with closed-cell foam rubber paddles. The pitch of each note is determined by the length of the tube.

Tubulum - (Tube-you-lum) The Tubulum is similar to the PVC instrument but has more of an updated sound. This instrument is struck with drumsticks rather than paddles. Its notes reside primarily in the bass range and it is the featured instrument in Blue Man Group's version of Donna Summer's classic "I Feel Love" from The Complex. One of the reasons Blue Man Group was so excited to record this song was because the Tubulum does a great imitation of the fast synthesizer arpeggios found in techno music.

Backpack Tubulum - The Backpack Tubulum is a portable Tubulum instrument. It allows the player to move around and launch rockets while playing. This instrument is used live during "Rods and Cones" in the Las Vegas production and again during Blue Man Group's live version of "Baba O'Reilly" on The Complex Rock Tour.

Drumbone - The Drumbone is a percussive spin-off of a trombone. Its sliding tube-within-a-tube design allows it to be lengthened and shortened during a performance, thus creating a variety of pitches. One Blue Man plays it with drumsticks. Two other blue men play it by sliding tubes. It is only used in the song of the same name. It can also be taken apart and used as two separate instruments that harmonize with each other. The song "Drumbone," from the group's debut album, Audio, is a crowd favorite. The song and piece is played in all four theatrical productions of Blue Man Group and it is also featured on The Complex Rock Tour."

Wanna find out more about this creative group of musicians?

Check out the Blue Man Group Website!

Music Videos!

I hope you have fun watching this assortment of interesting intruments and music!!

These are ones that always make me smile after the initial shock wears off!

~ Megamix ~ Etude for PVC Pipes ~ Shadow & Paint Drumming ~ Teenage Wasteland ~ Drumbone ~ Rods & Cones ~ Complex ~ Cereal ~ I Feel Love ~ Marshmallows & Gumballs


This isn't just a "pipe dream"!

If my family doesn't get this fun instrument for me (hint, hint), they may just find me and my drumsticks tapping the waterpipes along with other surprises in the basement!

Hmm .... I wonder what musical sounds the washer and dryer would make. ???


Unusual Instruments #1

STOMP!

Addictive rhythms and dancing!

Stomp Online will tell you about this fascinating dance and percussion troup, show a few video clips and pictures, give you backgrounds of the performers, describe their "unusual instruments", provide news article clips, wallpapers, banners, and other computer stuff, and even supply a study guide for teachers and kids!

"STOMP has no words - everyone can understand it. It has little or no melody in the traditional sense, so it doesn't matter if your taste in music is jazz, classical, dance or pop. STOMP is about rhythm, which is common to all cultures. Everyone knows rhythm, if only from the beating of their own heart - it is the basis of all music. STOMP is a group of people, with very strong personalities, who work together using simple building blocks to create something complex , something everyone can identify." ~ Quote from About Stomp!

According to their website, the group uses 30 brooms, 8 lids, 1 tall bin, 5 short bins, 10 6-foot 6-inch poles, 15 pounds of sand, 4 blocks of athlete's chalk, 12 pairs of drumsticks, 200 liters of water, 12 boxes of matches, 8 bananas, and other miscellaneous objects per week in their shows!

8 bananas? Maybe they met the fruit and veggie guy?

Get ready to start tapping a foot or clapping your hands!

The 1st video top left of the list, "STOMP is ...", explains much about the group's instruments!!

Your Creative Choices!

Your Vote Counts!

Pick your favorite "unusual" music section!

See results
Recycling
Recycling

A Creative Challenge for You! :D

Try some experiments with sounds!

Create your own instruments! What types of materials would you want to try? What sounds in your everyday life would you use? Can you combine two or more ordinary objects into a musical masterpiece? Why not try creating an instrument from materials from your recycling box?

What types of sounds do you want to make? Which sounds blend nicely together?

Experiment with rhythm, wind, and string type sounds. Give it a try to have fun!

There is no bad instrument, just original! Please leave me a message in the guestbook on what interesting sounds you created and enjoyed!

Honorary Mention!

Lego Harpsichord
Lego Harpsichord

Lego Harpichord

My boys love legos, so when I found an instrument made of them, I couldn't resist checking it out! This Lego Harpsichord was completely made of Legos except for the strings. The website has very detailed pictures and a few sound clips. Not exactly the prettiest sounding contraption, but sure is interesting to look at not to mention the physics and engineering behind it. Really cool creation!

An Added Bonus! (Recently Discovered)

The "Voca" People - Just when you thought it couldn't get any weirder ...

Thanks for visiting "Unusual Instruments"! I hope you had fun listening to some unique sounds and creative music!

What do you think of the new instruments? - Do you prefer traditional ones instead?

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    • profile image

      tssfacts 7 years ago

      WOW! I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Beautiful sounds from odd "things". Excellent lens.

    • profile image

      ohcaroline 7 years ago

      Very interesting...but give me a good keyboard any day. :)

    • rewards4life info profile image

      rewards4life info 7 years ago

      I love the Blue Man Group! They are so entertaining! This lens is fantastic, I've read most of it and found out so many new things about unusual music instruments. Music lives in every object, I suppose. Congratulations on your shiny new star! Well deserved. =)

    • SandyMertens profile image

      Sandy Mertens 7 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      Congratulations on your Purple Star!

    • NatureMaven profile image

      NatureMaven 6 years ago

      I had a tough time filling out the poll:how can I choose between the uber-organ, the klezmer saw, the ocarina ladder, or the veggie instruments or the ultimate music recyclers? They're all # 1 in my book! Great lens

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      These truly are unique.

    • Aquavel profile image

      Aquavel 6 years ago

      Wonderful and fun lens! Congrats on your well deserved purple star!

    • blessedmomto7 profile image

      blessedmomto7 6 years ago

      This was amazing! The kids and I spent way too much time watching all the videos. What fun! Awesome lens Pamela!

    • LeorG profile image

      LeorG 6 years ago

      Very interesting lens on different instruments!

    • InnaTsv profile image

      InnaTsv 6 years ago

      awesome! thank u)

    • profile image

      AlexisPr 6 years ago

      wow :)

    • JoyfulPamela2 profile image
      Author

      JoyfulPamela2 6 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      @hotbrain: Thank you!!!!

    • javr profile image

      javr 6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      These really make me think. I wonder how that bottle and hair dryer instrument works?

    • Violin-Student profile image

      Violin-Student 6 years ago

      I prefer traditional, but there's nothing wrong with new or altered instruments (thinking of prepared piano, for example). Or with traditional instruments played in non-tradtional ways. (No, I don't mean violas used as beaters on percussion instruments...although that might work in my Viola Jokes lens!) What about non-instruments like Cleary and Harding in their McDonalds commercial? (Just search Squidoo for Cleary and Harding...they'll pop up at least one or two times!) If it sounds good, I'll listen!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Hi :)

    • profile image

      LMJones71 6 years ago

      Absolutely terrific lense! There's so much here, that I could easily spend more than an hour going through all the wonderful things you've posted. Thanks so much! I got such a kick out of Aharon Kotlar. He's so weird (but in a good way).

    • blessedmomto7 profile image

      blessedmomto7 5 years ago

      Congrats on the purple star! I don't think this one had one last time I was here!

    • TapIn2U profile image

      TapIn2U 5 years ago

      I had to watch - and listen - to the videos twice. Very unusual music indeed. Thanks for the info! Fantastic lens with a much deserved purple star! Sundae ;-)

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I liked The Uberorgan, that was pretty unique if you ask me.

    • BSieracki profile image

      Bernie 5 years ago from Corbin, KY

      interesting

    • profile image

      sherioz 5 years ago

      This is a terrific lens. Loved the unusual instruments. So creative!!

    • Tricia Deed profile image

      Tricia Deed 3 years ago from Orlando, Florida

      Traditional musical instruments will always be around. They too started as simple handmade instruments with available plant products. But it is always good for creative minds to discover or to invent new instruments for producing music. It is the universal sound mind at work accompanied by engineering logic. Music enhances our imagination and our intellect.

      Thoroughly enjoyed this lens.

    • JoyfulPamela2 profile image
      Author

      JoyfulPamela2 3 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      @Tricia Deed: It is fun to see what creativity, science, and the heart will create for our listening pleasure in the future! Thank you!

    • profile image

      TanoCalvenoa 3 years ago

      Wow, these are much more "unique" than what I thought I'd be reading about when I clicked on the title of the lens. I myself play guitar mostly, and to a lesser extent piano. Pretty traditional instruments, I suppose.

    • JoyfulPamela2 profile image
      Author

      JoyfulPamela2 3 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      @TanoCalvenoa: I play many traditional instruments, too, but it is fun to create music with all sorts of sounds!

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