8 Crazy Musical Instruments that Actually Exist

crazy musical instruments - Zeusaphone

The quest to create sounds is nothing new to humanity. We have been ‘making noise,’ so to speak, for quite some time, haven’t we? Music and musical instruments evolved just as we did over hundreds of thousands of years. While the earliest musical instruments might have been quite rudimentary, we have managed to invent and refine some of the best sounding instruments through the years – including some legit crazy musical instruments!

But when you come across an instrument such as ‘the cheese drum,’ you can’t help but wonder; have we gone too far? Well, the following examples do suggest that we have indeed! At least in some cases, that is.

Here are 8 crazy musical instruments than actually exist. Some of them can be a bit too much to handle, so consider yourself warned! Here we go!

1. The Musical Saw

strange musical instruments saw
Sega Musicale Pietro Festa by Pietrofesta licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

That’s right. Some wise guy looked at a wood saw and apparently, the first thing that came to his mind was – music!

As the name suggests, it is literally a wood saw that is bent and used to create various sounds using a bow similar to a violin. Rubbing a bow against the flat end of the saw creates high-frequency vibrations that the artist can control by controlling the tension of the bent saw blade.

As you can imagine, it is not a particularly beautiful instrument to look at. It is a saw, people! But it is worth a ‘hear.’ The singing saw will remind you of a lady opera singer with a high-pitched voice. As a matter of fact, the singing saw has received a classification under the Hornbostel-Sachs system and is classified as an idiophone, so you know this thing is for real!

If you are interested in hearing what it sounds like, check out the following video. It’s actually quite captivating!

2. The Glass Armonica

glass armonica strange instrument
Glass Armonica by Tonamel licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Now, this one has some rich history associated with it, but more on that a bit later. Let me tell you what this thing is first. I am sure you must have seen someone making music using glass bowls filled with varying amounts of water. Well, the Glass Armonica operates on a similar principle but without the water.

The Glass Armonica (not to be confused with Glass Harmonica that also exists!) is a series of glass bowls or goblets that are arranged in increasing diameters along the length of a horizontal rod. The whole assembly spins on an axis and music is produced by applying friction on the surface of the rotating glass surface.

Now, about that rich history that I alluded to earlier. The mechanical version of the instrument was actually invented by none other than our founding father, Benjamin Franklin! Musical geniuses such as Mozart and Beethoven have reportedly used it to make music as well. Not bad for a bowl of glass, if you ask me!

If you are interested in listening to this crazy musical instrument, here is a video that will give you the chills. And while you are at it, see if the sound reminds you of a beloved wizard! If it does, let me know in the comments section below!

3. The Sharpsichord

The Sharpsichord is perhaps not an ideal instrument to keep in your living room! The giant instrument was invented by the notable musical genius Henry Dagg.

The Sharpsichord is an automatic pin-barrel harp. You create your music by placing ‘pins’ on the surface of a central perforated cylinder. There is a total of 11,520 holes in the cylinder, so, you can create any note imaginable. As the cylinder rotates, each pin plucks the appropriate string on the harp and voila! Music is born.

Of course, the instrument requires a large assembly, and the Sharpsichord is as big as a one-storied house, and it can play only 90 seconds of music before you have to change the pins manually. And did I say there is only one in the entire world and it cost over $125,000 to make? Talk about crazy with a capital ‘C’!

You can catch the inventor in action in the fantastic video above, that features Dagg himself with the Sharpsichord and one of the other instrument on this list – the singing saw!

4. The Hydraulophone

hydraulophone strange musical instrument
Ryan Janzen playing Hydraulophone by Steve licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

If you love water parks and playing with water, the Hydraulophone is just for you! It is a relatively modern invention that literally ‘makes music from water!’.

A Hydraulophone consists of a calibrated pipe with holes in it. Water is pumped through the holes, and the artist creates music by plugging the holes on the pipe with his/her fingers, that’s it! It sounds a lot like an organ but with water! It is an H2Organ. See what I did there because H2O is the chemical formula for water…you know what, never mind!

The instrument can be installed in water parks and similar establishments, and you can enjoy getting wet while making some music (no inappropriate thoughts please!) Some people have mastered the Hydraulophone, and they create some of the most stunning pieces of music.

But all said and done, a giant pipe with water coming out of holes that you plug to make music sounds a bit too much to me! What about you? Would you like to hear water make music in a concert?

If you are curious, take a look at this unusual instrument in action, here is a video that is surprisingly soothing. I am not responsible if you feel the urge to go to a water park after watching this though!

5. The Zeusaphone

Zeusaphones in Action by Dracoswinsauer licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

That’s correct; this instrument is named after the Greek god Zeus! Hands down, this is one of the most visually stunning and pure awesome musical instruments that you will ever come across.

At its heart, the Zeusaphone is a synthesizer that is attached to a Tesla Coil. If you don’t already know what a Tesla Coil is, let me elaborate a bit. A Tesla Coil is an electrical coil that is used to display stunning sparks of electricity when a current is passed through it. Remember the famous picture of Nikolai Tesla?

So, when a musician plays a tune on the Zeusaphone, the current is passed through the accompanying Tesla Coil, and it generates a stunning visual of sparks flying around. It is truly a sight to behold.

If you are interested in checking out this instrument in action, here is a video for you that will have you electrified!

6. The Hornucopian Dronepipe

If you are into dystopian Sci-Fi, the Hornucopian Dronepipe may appeal to you. It is a fully 3-D printed musical instrument that can double as an art installation.

Basically, it is a quite weirdly shaped pipe that you blow into to create a musical note. The sound of this instrument strongly resembles the more common Didgeridoo.

As far as the look of the instrument goes, it sure looks like an alien boa constrictor! The instrument was designed by the MONAD Studio and let’s say; it is more of an acquired taste.

Check out the video above if you are interested in a soulful demonstration!

7. The Pyrophone

pyrophone musical instrument
White Night Melbourne 2017 by Gavin Anderson licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

So, we saw water making music, right? But what about fire? Well, as it turns out, fire too, can make some music. The Pyrophone, literally translated to ‘fire sound’, is a musical instrument that uses gasoline powered fire to create music.

Invented in the late 1800s, the Pyrophone operates on the principle that if fuel is burnt in a hollow glass tube, it can create a note depending on the diameter of the tube and the amount of fuel used. The instrument looks similar to an organ, but the notes are produced by combustion rather than air pressure.

As you can imagine, it is quite a spectacle when the Pyrophone is performed as the glass pipes are placed so that they are visible to the audience.

Here is a video of the Pyrophone in all its glory!

8. The Cheese Drums

crazy musical instruments - cheese drum
Cheese Wheels by PublicDomainPictures licensed under CC0 Public Domain


Yup, that’s right. The Cheese Drums are made from, you guessed it, cheese wheels! Created by the amazingly talented jazz drummer Han Bennink, the Cheese Drums are a drum set with all the percussion parts of the drum kit replaced by wheels of cheese.

Bennink is also known as the drummer who makes music from everything so how could cheese be left out, right? The sound of the drum kit is not like anything you might imagine. He uses cheese wheels of different sizes to make sounds of different pitches.

Now, would the Cheese Drums replace the regular drums? Not really. But they do have a unique ‘flavor’ to them. Maybe it comes from the cheese, who knows?!

If you want to catch the ‘cheese-man’ in action, check out the video below of Han Bennink himself – beating his cheese at an alarming rate!

So, there you have it. Those are some crazy musical instruments that actually exist. If you loved the post, don’t enjoy it alone, share it with your friends! If you know a crazy musical instrument that deserves to be on the list, please share it in the comments below!

(Zeusaphones in Action by Dracoswinsauer licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0)


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