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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.”
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.
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
This nano-guitar is the world’s smallest musical instrument. It is just 10 micrometers long, about the size of a single human blood cell. Each string is the width of about 100 atoms. The strings can theoretically be plucked, but the sound would be inaudible. Researchers from Cornell University constructed it out of crystalline silicon. Clever chaps.