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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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…
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
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.
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.”
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.
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 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.