10 Exotic Instruments That Will Blow Your Eardrums… in a Good Way

BY Tina Sun TIMEJuly 29, 2014 PRINT

Expand your musical knowledge with these ten exotic instruments you have probably never heard of before. Sit back and enjoy.

1. Hang (spacedrum)

Created by Felix Rohner and Sabina Schärer in Switzerland, this instrument is classified as percussion, and produces sounds through tapping it. The vibrations resonate through its hollow center to create a various array of musical notes. Give it a listen, it’s surprisingly soothing for a drum!

2. Glass Harp…

If you have a large collection of glass wine cups, this instrument should be fairly easy to make at home. Just fill them with water until the right sound comes out! When you rub its rim with damp fingers, it creates an exquisite sound.

3. … and its evolution, the Glass Armonica

The problem with the glass harp is that it only allows you to play a few notes at the same time. The glass armonica, on the other hand, allows the player to produce multiple notes by compiling the wine glasses on top of each other so they are less spaced out.  This allows for easier access and  a wider variety of sounds.

5. Ma tou qin (Morin Khuur or horse-head fiddle)

The morin khuur is a traditional Mongolian instrument with two cords and a horse head. It is said to be able to replicate a horse neighing and the openness of a far reaching grassland. (In the video below, it starts playing at 0:18).

Epoch Times Photo
Mongolian Musician (Photograph by Eric Pouhier/Wikimedia)

6. PVC Pipes (RimbaTubes)

This instrument composed of PVC pipes of different length produces sounds when tapped with paddle-like drumsticks.

7. Theremin

If you are wondering how this instrument works, rest assured you are not the only one. Created by a Russian inventor, Léon Theremin, it is actually an electric instrument with two antennas and controlled by the positioning of the thereminist’s hand. By intercepting the electrical signals at different places, the thereminist alters the oscillations and frequency of the note produced.

8. Musical Saw

Those sci-fi music have to create their sound effects somewhere.

9. Array mbira

Created by Bill Wesley in the United States, this unique instrument produces sound through vibrations by flickering its metal tine. It is a radically altered version of the African mbira, and produces a playful, bell-like sound.

10. Hydraulophone

Also cleverly called H2Organ. Sound is produced hydraulically by pressing holes, through which water is running out. On top of its harmonious sound, the soothing background melody of flowing water makes this instrument unique in its genre.

Featured image of “Traditional Instrument” via Shutterstock

Tina Sun
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