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5 Wacky Musical Instruments You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

Tesla coil and octobass

Did you know there are over 1,500 musical instruments around the globe? From piano to oboe, musical instruments come in all shapes and sizes. But if we flash back through history, we can find musical instruments that go beyond our wildest imaginations!

Here are a few of the wackiest musical instruments from history that you’ve probably never heard of.

1. Singing Tesla Coil

Chances are, you’ve heard of a Tesla coil because of your fourth-grade science teacher. But did you know there’s an instrument version? Sometimes called a zeusaphone, the singing Tesla coil creates pitches by modulating the output that moves through the sparks.

Check out its spooky sound here!

2. Octobass

Think of the biggest acoustic bass you’ve ever seen. Now triple it.

The octobass is an absolutely gigantic string instrument, created in the 1850s. It’s over 11 feet tall and, despite its massive size, has only three strings.

There is only one song in the world that specifically requires an octobass, and that is Charles Gounod’s Messe solennelle de Sainte-Cécile. In other instances, the octobass can play the double bass part, but an octave lower.

Here’s an attempt at a recognizable tune on this massive instrument!

3. Glass Harmonica

This instrument dates back to 1761 and uses a series of glass bowls resting within one another to create its unique sound.

Benjamin Franklin actually invented this instrument and referred to it by its other name, the armonica. The glass harmonica is nothing like what we think of when we think of a harmonica. It’s a lot more like playing notes on a wine glass.

Here’s an armonica in action!

4. Toha

This string instrument is made to be played by not one, but two, musicians at the same time! The musicians sit on either side of the toha and strum it like a harp. Composer Victor Gama created the instrument to resemble the sound and spirit of an extinct species of Angolan birds.

Check out the toha, also known as the totem harp, below. Only one musician is featured, but it’s clear to see how two folks could play!

5. Crwth

The crwth is a string instrument that closely resembles a lyre. However, it has a slightly bowed shape, making a very distinct sound. The crwth, which can also be called the crowd, is of Welsh descent and dates back to the 11th century.

One interesting fact about the crwth is that there are only four of these instruments around today. They are each in museums around the world.

Human innovation has created a broad variety of instruments over the years. For a list of some of the newest musical instruments out there, check out this page.

The featured images for this post are from YouTube (here and here).

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