NME.COM

25 bizarre musical instruments

  • What kind of maniac takes a stuffed badger and turns it into a theremin? Someone did, though, and we interviewed him to find out why. Here are a few more outlandish musical instruments.

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    Added: 02 Mar 2012

  • This 12-neck, 72-string guitar, designed by Yoshihiko Satoh, which unveiled at a design exhibition in Tokyo in 2007. Perfect for the axe-wielding Hindu deity in your life. Pic: WENN

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    Added: 09 Jul 2009

  • An early precursor of the theremin, the Ondes Martenot was invented in 1928 and became renowned for its unearthly, querulous tone. One notable musician who used it was the French composer Olivier Messiaen.

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    Added: 09 Jul 2009

  • You'd need a lot of puff to play this giant tuba, which has over 34 feet of tubing, weighs 112 pounds, and is nearly 8 feet tall. Although if you did manage it, you'd be rewarded with the ability to produce a bowel-loosening low note, three whole octaves below middle C.

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    Added: 09 Jul 2009

  • Sax player Jay Easton (pictured) was unsatisfied with the standard instrument size, so he had this 2-metre tall monster custom-built at colossal expense ( he eventually sold it for $20,000). It's thought to be the largest woodwind instrument in the world. Perhaps he was trying to compensate for something. Pic: WENN

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    Added: 09 Jul 2009

  • If you're ever driving in Hokkaido, Japan and you hear a funny sound coming from under your wheels, don't worry - you haven't run over a cuckoo, it's simply the loopy brainwave of one Mr. Shinoda (not the bloke from Linkin Park), who has cut grooves into the road surface that create melodies as tyres pass over them.

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    Added: 09 Jul 2009

  • Popularised by flouncy ambient musician Jean-Michel Jarre - son of the film composer Maurice Jarre, who passed away in March 2009 - the 'laser harp' is a theremin-style instrument that enables the user to make sounds by plucking or blocking beams of light. Reports that The Pigeon Detectives have been using one on their current tour turned out to be made up. Pic: Rex Features

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    Added: 09 Jul 2009

  • If Jimmy Page's double-neck Gibson was cool, a 12-neck guitar must be six times as cool, right? Erm, no. Japanese artist Yoshihiko Satoh is responsible for this ludicrous creation. Pic: WENN

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    Added: 09 Jul 2009

  • Behold, the world's smallest working harmonica. Last we checked, that wasn't exactly a hotly contested field, but still - all credit to the 19th Century German chap who designed it. Pic: WENN

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    Added: 09 Jul 2009

  • A pipe organ that uses Guinness bottles to create the notes. Well done to designer John Morris, who presumably didn't have a lot on that day.

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    Added: 09 Jul 2009

  • This is an Aeolian wind harp. If you're wondering how it's played, the answer is, you're not supposed to. It makes sound simply by the motion of the wind passing through its slats. Popular in ancient Greece, the Romantic poet and philosopher was also a big fan - he mentioned the instrument in two separate poems.

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    Added: 09 Jul 2009

  • You're looking at a gravikord, an electric double harp invented and patented by Robert Grawi in 1986. Constructed out of welded stainless steel, it is notoriously difficult to play, which is why you won't find one in your local branch of Sound Control.

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    Added: 09 Jul 2009

  • This massive organ, housed in the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey, is the world's loudest and largest musical instrument. It has 33,112 pipes and takes four-and-a-half hours to walk round. And still people only ever want to play 'Whiter Shade Of Pale' on it...

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    Added: 09 Jul 2009

  • And so we come to the cymbalom, a type of hammered dulcimer found mainly in the music of Hungary, Romania, Moldova, Ukraine, Greece and Iran. But not frequently found onstage at the Camden Barfly. Pic: Alamy

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    Added: 09 Jul 2009

  • This glass harmonica is played by rubbing one's fingers lightly against the various glass bowls - a bit like when you rub a wet finger round the edge of a glass. Unlike a regular harmonica, this one is rarely heard on Bob Dylan ballads.

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    Added: 09 Jul 2009

  • A variant of the glass harmonica found elsewhere in this gallery, this instrument was popular in the 18th Century but fell from favour following rumours that it sent people mad. One German musicologist warned that playing it, "Excessively stimulates the nerves, plunges the player into a nagging depression and hence into a dark and melancholy mood that is apt method for slow self-annihilation."

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    Added: 09 Jul 2009

  • Part instrument, part electronic ouija board, this bizarre creation - dubbed the Reactable - works by users placing blocks on symbols on a translucent backlit display. Bjork used one on the track 'Declare Independence', but then she would.

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    Added: 09 Jul 2009

  • Say hello to Moaning Lisa. A digital art installation-cum-avant-garde musical instrument, this sensor-equipped mannequin emits orgasmic moans, at various pitches, depending on how and where you touch it. It's also tehnically possible to add reverb and echo effects to her noises - but that would just be filthy.

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    Added: 09 Jul 2009

  • Competing with the Atlantic City church organ for the title of world's largest instrument, this is the Stalacpipe Organ. Located deep in the Luray Caverns in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley is the Great Stalacpipe Organ, it induces sounds from the stalactites which cover 3 1/2 acres of the surrounding caverns. Pic: Alamy

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    Added: 09 Jul 2009

  • This harpsichord is made entirely out of Lego. It is the brainchild of Henry Lim, who built it himself out of an estimated 100,000 individual bricks. And still he doesn't have a girlfriend.

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    Added: 09 Jul 2009

  • This extraordinary guitar, dubbed 'The Villainizer' by manufacturers Thunder Eagle, was inspired by the 'steampunk' movement, which allies Victorian technology to science-fiction. It contains piping, cogs and gears in place of the usual, modern guitar-making materials.

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    Added: 09 Jul 2009

  • Andy Manson (pictured) has designed guitars for the likes of Jethro Tull and Led Zeppelin. Amazingly, Jimmy Page did not immediately place an order for this mermaid contraption, which ultimately was sold off to raise money for Zambian farmers. Pic: WENN

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    Added: 09 Jul 2009

  • Little Boots has helped popularise the Tenori-On, a Japanese-designed gizmo that creates a synth-like sound when you manipulate its LED-covered grid interface. It retails for around £850.

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    Added: 09 Jul 2009

  • Like the Aeolian harp, this 'sea organ', located in the Croatian seaside town of Zadar, uses nature to create sounds. Waves roll against tubes fixed to the underside of marble steps, creating a haunting 'melody' that has brought easily-impressed tourists flocking.

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    Added: 09 Jul 2009