There are countless musical instruments in the world. While many musical instruments like the guitar and the piano have gone on to become popular, there are some lesser-known ones that we may have never heard of. We, humans love to innovate and throughout history, our innovation has resulted in some strange and wonderful inventions. So is the case with music. From musical instruments that can be played without even touching them to those that can put on a literally electrifying performance, here are 5 musical instruments that push the boundaries of music.
However strange a musical instrument is one assumes that you have to touch it to play it, right? Not the theremin though! The theremin is a non-contact musical instrument. It looks like a box with two antennas jutting out. One antenna controls the loudness while the other controls the pitch or frequency of sound. The fascinating part is that the loudness and pitch are controlled by moving the player’s hands either towards or away from the antennae. The farther you move your hand from the pitch antenna, the shriller the sound gets. Similarly with the antenna that controls loudness. The theremin gets its name from its Soviet inventor, Léon Theremin, who patented it in 1928. It is often used to produce spooky and scary music, especially in film and cartoons. Remember that typical shrill spooky music in Scooby-Doo and old horror movies? It probably came from a theremin!
The Singing Tesla Coil, also called a Zeusaphone, is probably the most electrifying musical instrument in the world! After all, it produces music by shooting out lightning bolts! The Zeusaphone is made of two Tesla coils that are modified to produce musical tones. A Tesla Coil is an electrical device used to produce high voltage and low current electricity, which looks like artificially created lightning. By mapping sound waves to its electromagnetic version, these Singing Tesla Coils shoot out electric arcs that buzz at the same frequency and loudness of the input signal.
We have heard of stalactites and stalagmites, the jutting natural formations that occur in some caves due to years of erosion. But did you know that there exists a musical cave with an organ connected to the rocky structures? The Great Stalcpipe Organ was created by a man named Leland W Sprinkle in 1956 and is located in an underground cave in the state of Virginia, USA. The Great Stalacpipe Organ belongs to a class of musical instruments called ‘lithophones’ which are instruments that include pieces of rock in them (From Greek: lithos (rock) + phone (sound)). The Stalacpipe Organ works by tapping on ancient stalactites with rubber mallets, which all connected to a console that looks like a traditional organ.
The Igil is a simple two-stringed musical instrument associated with the Tuvan people of Mongolia. What makes it interesting is that the earliest form of the instrument was made with the bones of horses. While today they are made from reed, the two strings and the bow are still made out of the hair from a horse’s tail. Each Igil typically has a horse’s head carved on the top of the instrument. As you can guess by now, horses are an important part of Mongolian and Tuvan culture. In fact, Mongolia is the last country left where wild horses still roam free. The rest of the world has domesticated them. The Igil is often played to accompany the traditional art form of Tuvan throat singing.
The Pyrophone, also known as a ‘fire/explosion organ’ is exactly as fierce as it sounds! In Greek, the word pyrophone literally translates to ‘fire sound’! It consists of a series of cylindrical glass tubes with a highly flammable gas pumped into them. Musical notes are produced by rapidly combusting the gases. It was invented by physicist and musician Georges Kastner, who himself was the son of a famous composer. While the early pyrophone used propane gas to spew jets of flames, the modern pyrophone has mini-explosions in its glass pipes. This means the musical instrument puts on a grand sound and light display. It can be safe to say that the pyrophone is definitely the hottest musical instrument in the world!
Which of these strange instruments did you like? Have you heard of some more weird musical instruments that you would like to tell us about? Do you know the different types of music genres?Tell us in the comments below.
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