By Ananya Mukherjee
It is difficult to imagine life without music and these rare and bizarre musical instruments create and adapt to sounds making beautiful, haunting, melodious music.
This Russian stringed musical instrument with its characteristic triangular body is strung with three strings and played with fingers or leather plectrums. With its strange triangular body, the Balalaika comes with leg extensions to rest. There are many varieties of it such as the piccolo balalaika, prima balalaika, secunda balalaika, alto balalaika, bass balalaika and contrabass balalaika.
2) Singing Ringing Tree
You would have never seen anything like this before. This wind powered sound sculpture resembling a tree, stands tall in Lancashire, England. About 3 metre high and made of galvanised steel pipes, this instrument harnesses wind energy to produce a range of discordant and penetrating choral sounds in several octaves. The structure is a combination of pipes that are cut specifically to create music and other pipes that hold the structure or serve as visual elements.
You would have heard musical devices like 'Jaltarang' that create sounds using bowls of water, but this one’s very different. The Hydraulophone is a sensory exploration device for low vision individuals. It is played by direct physical contact with water and other fluids where the sound is generated or affected hydraulically! Click
4) Ondes Martenot
This French electronic musical instrument was famous in the early 20th century for producing an eerie wavering sound. It’s strange, haunting notes were produced by varying the frequency of oscillation in vacuum tubes. While commercial production of this rare musical instrument stopped by 1980s, French conservatories continued to give classes to students on this instrument to keep the legacy alive. By early 2000, the Ondéa project was started to bring the instrument back into usage in concerts.
More like a natural wooden trumpet, this wind instrument native to Australian Aborigines has been producing a beautiful, brooding sound for over 1500 years now. Painted with traditional motifs and sometimes described as a ‘drone pipe’, the Didgeridoo has started gaining popularity in music industry in Australia and around the world. The popular Bollywood movie ‘Dil Chahta Hai’ used it in its soundtrack to add authenticity to the storyline that was partly set in Australia!
6) The Vegetable Orchestra
You read that right. This is a one of a kind orchestra that performs on instruments made of fresh vegetables. The utilization of various ever refined vegetable instruments creates a musically and aesthetically unique sound universe. Click
A strange looking version of the desi ‘Santur’, the Cimbalom is a musical instrument that originated in Hungary and is used in Central and Eastern European cultures for music making. This odd shaped percussion instrument features a large trapezoidal box with metal strings stretched across its top and is often used by folk music groups.
Originally developed by African slaves in Peru, the Cajon is a six-sided wooden box used as a percussion instrument, of which one side has a sound hole and the other is made of thin plywood. You play it by sitting on it and slapping the front or rear faces with your hands, fingers, brushes, mallets, or sticks. Used primarily in African or South American music, Cajon is gaining popularity and is used in contemporary flamenco and jazz.
We close the list of strange musical instruments with one that is about to come! Conceptualized by Futurama, the American science fiction sitcom, the Holophonor is a fictional musical instrument of the 31st century. A rare combination of a musical instrument like Oboe and a hologram projector, it uses mental impulses and interprets musical notes to assemble a holographic picture (the music played triggers the projector to show matching holographic pictures). The Holophonor requires great skill to play and only a few people in the whole universe have any skill in it.