The world of music is peppered with so many wonderful, weird, and unique instruments, many of them you won’t have heard of before. We all know the classics, like guitar, piano, flute, and violin. But, there are loads out there that aren’t so common but are no less interesting. In fact, many of these instruments will be ones you’ve heard before, you just weren’t aware of it. These are some of the weirdest and quirkiest instruments currently out there.
The wheelharp is actually a really great looking instrument and one that could almost be mistaken for an antique. It produces a lush, rich sound associated with stringed instruments, and allows the player to sound like an orchestra. This reasonably new instrument is changing the way many musicians are playing and is increasing in popularity among multi-instrumentalists. There are two different models of the instrument, and they each produce a slightly different sound.
Singing Ringing Tree
The Singing Ringing Tree is actually one of four sculptures, collectively known as the Panopticons. It is a sculpture made of hundreds of steel pipes of different types and lengths. The sculpture ascends in a spiral and resembles a tree, hence the name. The way it works is that the wind catches in the pipes and provides some pretty eerie and atmospheric music.
The hardingfele is a type of fiddle or violin, but the difference is that it contains twice as many strings as a regular violin. It’s an instrument that originated in Norway and continues to be popular there. The instrument has 4 regular strings like normal, but there are also a further 4 strings underneath the regular ones, and these vibrate when the instrument is played, making for a more unique sound.
The gameleste is one of those quirky instruments that is a hybrid of two other instruments. Icelandic pipe organ builder Björgvin Tómassonar is the genius behind this design, which combines the elements and essences of a gamelan and celesta (basically combining percussion and piano). The instrument design was commission by Icelandic art pop superstar Bjork, for use on her eighth studio album Biophilia.
Now, this is just a bizarre instrument and one that is most definitely homemade. The bellowphone belongs to Leonard Solomon and is part of his extensive collection of strange and peculiar instruments – all of which he created. You can find clips of him online playing the bellowphone. The instrument is very recognizable in both sight and sound, and it looks almost like a giant saxophone on a stand. Very odd.
This fantastic instrument was designed by Henry Dagg over a period of five years. In many ways, it’s one of the most modern instruments out there because of the fact that it’s solar powered. It’s known as a pin-barrel harp because it has over 11,000 holes into which the player can insert pins to make different sounds and create melodies. It’s an innovative and interesting instrument, and could well be used on a much larger scale in the future.
This colorful instrument looks like some magical scepter from a kids fantasy film or something! In reality, it’s actually an instrument – though it is based on the fictional instrument from TV show Futurama. Harrison Krix made the instrument by converting an old clarinet and combining it with 54 LEDs and various other parts. It’s unclear whether the instrument actually works and plays in reality, but it’s certainly a cool idea.
As you can see, these are just a few of the really quirky and original instruments out there. It’s unlikely you can get hold of most of these on the common market because they are bespoke items. But, we might see some of them become more mainstream at some point in the future.