9 Of The Weirdest Instruments
As music producers in a creative industry, we at Make This Noise love to experiment with new, unusual sounds and instruments. We have selected some of our favourite and weirdest instruments that can be played around the world:
1# The Yaybahar
The Yaybahar is an electric-free, totally acoustic instrument designed by Gorkem Sen. The instrument can be played by scraping or hitting the stings, creating hypnotic and evocative space age sounds. The sounds are created by coiled springs transmitting vibrations from fretted strings to the frame drums. These vibrations are turned into sound as the membranes echo back and forth on the springs. As a result listeners are blessed with a unique listening experience.
2# The Spacedrum
A fitting name for an instrument which resembles a UFO. Belonging to the Trinidad steeldrum and Hang family, the Spacedrum is a french designed melodic metal percussion instrument. It can be played by hand or with sticks and creates an enchanting, mediative sound as if a combination of piano, violin and drums were being played all together. Check out how musicians like Yuki Koshimoto have embraced this distinctive instrument in the video below.
3# The Tubulum Best known as the signature instrument of the Blue Man Group, the Tubulum is an instrument consisting of a series of tubes which are hit like the drums. Sound is made by forcing air through the tubes which causes them to vibrate. The frequency of the sounds are determined by how long the tubes are – therefore the longer the tube, the deeper the sound. What’s cool about this instrument is that it can be custom built easily which leads to some creative and wacky designs.
4# The Seaboard
Developed by ROLI in East London, the Seaboard is a molded silicon keyboard with pressure sensitive controls, allowing musicians to alter the pitch, volume and timbre of individual notes. For example, sliding a finger over the notes changes the pitch as if you were playing a stringed instrument, while changes in pressure affect the volume. The instrument is so impressive that it even won product design of the year in 2014.
5# Glass Harmonica
The Glass Harmonica is a well dated instrument which was docuemented to have been around since the 18th century. It was invented by Benjamin Franklin after seeing water-filled wine glasses played by Edmund Delaval in Cambridge, England in 1761. The Glass Harmonica consists of a series of different sized glass bowls which are mounted horizontally and rotated. Sound is then produced through friction by touching the rims of the glasses with water moistened fingers.
6# Playing The Building In 2008 David Byrne turned an abandoned ferry terminal into a giant musical instrument. To produce the sounds, devices were attached to metal beams, pillars, heating and water pipes. However the devices do not produce the sound themselves. Instead they cause the building to vibrate, resonate and oscillate and are linked to archaic pump organ. As one of the largest instruments ever created, it took two whole years to build!
7# The Callioforte What looks like a cross between a typewriter and a miniature organ, the Callioforte produces a similar sound to a Calliope but without the steam. See the video below for a lively rendition of the classic “Tiger Rag” by the Callioforte’s creator, Leonard Solomon.
8# The Otamatone
The Otamatone is quintessentially Japanese – its colourful, cartoonish and a bit wacky. Developed in Japan by Meiwa Denki, the Otamatone is a battery powered instrument played like a guitar. It is played with two hands – one hand holds the fretless neck, where you slide your fingers up and down to control the pitch. Meanwhile the other hand which is used to change the tone, squeezes the “head” making the face open and close its mouth. The crazy instrument has been mainly popular in Asia amongst tweens and has featured on many youtube channels to cover popular songs. Check out an Otamatone cover of Pharrell Williams “Happy” in the video below.
Looking very much like that instrument played by the Star Wars cantina band, the Eigenharp surely is a space age looking instrument. Described by its developers as “the most expressive electronic musical instrument ever made”, it took eight years to develop. As an instrument it is advanced, tactile, multi-functional MIDI controller which includes a matrix of 120 keys. Furthermore it also has 12 additional keys for tapping out percussion, such as drum pads. As a whole the interment is great for live performances and solo artists, as it allows you to manipulate a whole orchestra.