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Top 10 Unusual Musical Instruments

10.) - UKELIN

The  " Ukelin" is the name of a bowed stringed instrument which combines the Hawaiian ukulele with the violin. Ukelins were produced by American companies from the 1920's through 1970's, and often had Hawaiian-inspired names. The ukelin may be played with the instrument held with one hand and bowed with the other, or it may be laid down and played with one bow in each hand, or strummed with one hand and bowed with the other. The ukelin has 16 bowed strings plus 4 open chords for strumming. It was the product of a surge in musical interests, and instrument inventors and manufacturers raced to outdo one another with cross-bred novelty/strange musical instruments.

9). The Didgeridoo

The Didgeridoo is a long wooden instrument, used traditionally by the Aboriginal people of Northern Australia. Known as the oldest wind instrument in the world, the origins may go back as far as 40,000 years. Though only one "drone note" can be played with the didgeridoo, overtones and vocal sounds from the player give it a rich sound and countless textures. The didgeridoo, while not necessarily a "weird instrument", has such a unique sound that it makes the number 9 spot for unusual instruments.


The Tsabouna is made of goatskin, which is inflated by blowing into the mouthpiece. at the other end of the instrument is a flute which is played with the fingers. It is similar to the Bagpipe with the exception that it does not have the drone pipes that give the bagpipe its unique sound. It was invented by Greek shepherds some 2000 years ago.


The hurdy-gurdy is a stringed instrument which is played in a fashion similar to the violin except the strings are rubbed by a rosined wheel instead of a bow. The wheel is turned by the player's right hand, while the left hand plays the tune on the keys . Typically two strings, called the chanters or melody strings, run though the keybox and their vibrating length is shortened by the keys, or wedges, pressing against them. Several drone strings are outside the keybox, and sound the same notes all the time. A small movable bridge on one of the drones can be made to vibrate rhythmically by cranking the wheel harder, and this buzzing creates a rhythmic accompaniment to the tune


The Aeolian harp is a musical instrument played by the wind. It originated in Ancient Greece, and was commonly used as a home decoration during the Renaissance period. The aeolian harp was designed to be played by the wind and not human hands, thereby giving the music an eerie sound composed solely by the influence of nature . The wind causes the Aeolian harp to vibrate and produce random harmonic sounds and notes. These wind harps come in a myriad of shapes and sizes. The unusual sound produce by the wind harp puts it at number 6 on our top 10 list of strange musical instruments.


Number 5 on the list of unusual instruments is the The Glass Armonica. Benjamin Franklin invented the Glass Armonica in 1761 somewhere between the lightning rod and bifocals. The glass armonica, (Armonia in Italian means harmony), was Ben Franklins favorite invention, and was also of interest to Mozart who wrote compositions specifically for the instrument.The Armonica is played in a similar fashion to rubbing a wet finger around the rim of a wine glass. The Armonica has a series of glass bowls on a rotating spindle, its tuning is achieved by the size selection of each bowl, the larger the bowl the deeper the pitch. The player wets their fingers and by touching the spinning bowls creates music.


Wave organ. At the eastern edge of the Golden Gate National Park resides the home of the San Francisco Wave Organ. Another Sea Organ is located on the shores of Zadar, Croatia, and is the world’s first musical pipe organ that is played by the sea. Waves create random harmonic sounds by way of tubes of varying size located underneath the structures. As the waves move in and out of these tubes the air likewise is pushed in and out of the tubes creating random sounds that are heard through openings on the surface / walkways of the structure. Like The Aeolian Harp this instrument's music is truly a composition created solely by nature. Being somewhat like a massive panpipe, played by water instead of wind, the wave organ gets number 4 on the top ten weird instruments.


The Great Stalacpipe Organ is considered by many to be one of the largest instruments and the oldest natural lithophone in the world. It is located inside the Luray Caverns, in the Shenandoah Valley. The inventor Lelend Sprinkle discovered that stalactites inside the caverns produced melodic sounds when struck by a mallet. He then constructed a keyboard console and wired a mallet to each stalactite within a 3.5 acre cavern space. The sounds gathered from the stalactites are then regulated by the stalacpipe organ and can be played by using a traditional keyboard. This unusual instrument is number 3 on our top 10 list for 3 reasons; 1) It's a weird instrument, and 2) Somewhat actually thought of it, and 3) They built it.


The Theremin is definitely one of the earliest electronic musical instruments, and the first to be played without any physical contact. It was invented by Russian inventor Léon Theremin . It is controlled by two metal antennae which sense the position of the player's hands and control the sound output. The pitch/frequency is controlled with one hand, and volume with the other. The electric signals from the theremin are amplified and sent to a loudspeaker. The theremin is number 2 on the top ten strange musical instruments list due to it's other-wordly sound, and because it is the first synthesizer ever. (More on the Theremin here)


Number one on the top ten strange unusual musical instrument list is the Tesla coil. Twin Solid State Musical Tesla coils playing Mario Bro's theme song at the 2007 Lightning on the Lawn Teslathon sponsored by DC Cox (Resonance Research Corp) in Baraboo WI. The music that you hear is coming from the sparks that these two identical high power solid state Tesla coils are generating. There are no speakers involved. The Tesla coils stand 7 feet tall and are each capable of putting out over 12 foot of spark. Not normally considered to be a musical instrument, The tesla coil, with some yankee ingenuity, is definitely the most unusual instrument.

  The Lists :
Unusual Musical Instruments | Worst Recording Artists | Best Concerts | Novelty Songs | Modern Day Minstrel
One Hit Wonders | Best Selling Albums | Best Electric Guitars
| Top Lyricists | Music Magz | Top Venues

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