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Human creativity has indeed no limits. We can invent quite incredible musical instruments. | Photo: British Library
Human creativity has indeed no limits. We can invent quite incredible musical instruments.| Photo: British Library
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TOP 10 Crazy Musical Instruments

Explosive organs, strange combinations of strings and keyboards or a romantic concept of an instrument designed to be played in a duo. Imagination has no limits and I am always fascinated by the never-ending crazy ideas that the creators of unconventional musical instruments come up with. Today, let's look at ten pieces from this world of bizarre tone

1. Pyrophone

Also referred to as a fire or explosive organ, the pyrophone is a musical instrument in which tones are produced by explosions, forms of rapid combustion and violent heating, such as burners in cylindrical glass tubes, which produce light and sound. It was invented by the French physicist and musician Georges Frédéric Eugène Kastner around 1870.

2. Pikasso Guitar

In 1984, jazz virtuoso Pat Metheny wanted a guitar "with as many strings as possible". Canadian guitar maker Linda Manzer then came up with the Pikasso guitar, which had forty-two strings arranged in four sections, including a six-string pickup to interface with Metheny's Synclavier synthesiser.

3. Nyckelharpa

The instrument, which originated in Sweden, has a name that can be translated as " violin with a key" or "harp with a key". It is a stringed accordion, similar in appearance to a violin, which uses keys along the neck to determine the pitch. In the 19th century, the nyckelharpa was a popular and established concert instrument, and by the early 20th century it had become, along with the violin, the archetypal instrument of Swedish folk music. Today it is even considered by many the quintessential Swedish national instrument.

4. Yaybahar

An acoustic musical instrument invented by Turkish musician Gorkem Sen, who describes it as a "mechanical-acoustic string synthesiser". The development of the Yaybahar was inspired by a mix of other unusual instruments such as the Turkish ney, the African thunder drum and the Australian didgeridoo. It represents both Western and Eastern influences in its design and sound. After all, see for yourselves in the video below.

5. Zeusafon

Also "singing Tesla coil" or zeusaphone, thoramin or "musical lightning" is a form of plasma speaker. It is a modification of the solid-state Tesla coil that has been modified to produce musical tones by modulating its spark output. It produces a sound reminiscent of an analogue synthesiser.

6. Toha

The Toha or totem harp is a musical instrument with a unique design inspired by the weaver bird of South Africa. These birds build their nests in large, closely-knit communities. The toha has two resonators and is designed to be played by two musicians, each with a set of twenty-two strings with the same tuning on both sides of the instrument. This design allows for a harmonious and synchronised musical experience, similar to that of weavers working together to build a nest. Beautiful idea, isn't it?

7. Stylophone

A stylophone is a miniature analogue electronic keyboard instrument played with a stylus. It was invented in 1967 by Brian Jarvis and went into production in 1968. About three million stylophones have been sold to this day, mostly as children's toys, but they have also been used occasionally by famous musicians such as John Lennon, Kraftwerk and David Bowie.

8. Wheelharp

We could also poetically call it a "spinning wheel". It is a musical instrument with strings controlled by a keyboard in combination with a rotating motor operated by a pedal. It was inspired by Leonardo da Vinci's viola organ. Inventors Jon Jones and Mitchell Manger introduced the instrument at the 2013 NAMM trade show in Anaheim, California.

9. Double bass balalaika

You must be familiar with the classical balalaika. A typical Russian stringed instrument with a triangular hollow wooden body, a fretted neck and three strings. Two strings are usually tuned to the same note and the third string is a perfect fifth higher. The instrument usually has a short sustain, requiring quick strumming or plucking when used to play melodies. There are eight types of balalaikas, sized according to the pitch of the notes – the largest is the double bass balalaika, which has absurd dimensions for producing bass frequencies.  

10. Sharpsichord

A musical instrument created by Henry Dagg in Faversham, Kent, England. It is a harp with pegs that plays music on a similar principle to a music box. The pegs slot into a grid of 11,520 holes and program the compositions on the sixty-four-string harp using a chromatic scale. The harp is then amplified by a pair of large horns. The instrument can also be played more traditionally using a keyboard. The Sharpsichord is powered by solar energy and can play only ninety seconds of music.

Tagy top 10 musical instruments crazy instruments pyrofon zeusafon kontrabasová balalajka toha stylofon pikasso guitar

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Marek Bero
Bass Gym 101 books, touring & session bass player, football tactics aficionado.