TCS: A Salute to Wacky, Weird and Wonderful Musical Instruments

Good Morning!

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Welcome to The Coffee Shop, just for you early risers on Monday mornings. This is an Open Thread forum, so if you have an off-topic opinion burning a hole in your brainpan, feel free to add a comment.

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Without music, life would be a mistake.

 – Friedrich Nietzsche

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The American Fotoplayer

The American Fotoplayer was developed by the American Fotoplayer Company, and introduced in 1912. The Fotoplayer is a type of player piano that was especially created to provide sound effects for silent movies during the early 19th century.



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The Pikasso Guitar

Designed by Manzer, the Pikasso Guitar is a notable instrument whose name was derived from its resemblance to the cubist works of renowned artist Pablo Picasso. This instrument is basically a harp guitar that has four necks, two sound holes and 42 strings.


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The Wheelharp

The Wheelharp is known to produce the rich sounds of many stringed instruments at once. It is basically a keyboard that controls 61 bowed strings, allowing a single musician to sound like many players.


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The Crwth

A Crwth is an ancient stringed musical instrument that is sometimes called a “crowd.” This musical instrument is believed to have been played in Wales since the 11th century.


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The Hardingfele

Also known as hardanger fiddle, the Hardingfele is a type of violin that has twice as many strings as a normal violin and originated in Norway.


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The Singing Ringing Tree

The Singing Ringing Tree, also called the Panopticon, designed by Mike Tonkin and Anna Liu, is a musical instrument made of steel pipes of various lengths and orientations.


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The Hydraulophone

The Hydraulophone is an organ that is powered by water. It starts producing sound when the musician covers one or more of the water jets, forcing the water through a calibrated pipe.


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Two Lurs

The Lur is a wooden Viking wind instrument that was introduced during the middle ages. It can be straight or curved in various shapes. The curves make the long instrument easier to carry.


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The Nyckelharpa

Nyckelharpa is a Swedish musical instrument that is composed of 16 strings and 37 keys. It was introduced around 1350 C.E. and is considered one of the oldest existing instruments today.


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The Aeolus

Aeolus was the ruler of the four winds in Greek Mythology. His name has been given to a new giant stringed musical instrument designed to resonate and sing with the wind without any electrical power or amplification.


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The Loophonium

Loophonium is the marriage of a euphonium and a lavatory. It was made for a concert of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra on April Fools’ Day 1960, at which the instrument was played. It was invented by the orchestra’s principal flautist, Fritz Spiegl.


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The Chrisalis

The Chrisalis was invented and built by Cris Forster, the Chrisalis was his first concert-sized instrument. The instrument’s design was inspired by a huge, round, stone-hewn Aztec calendar. Cris thought to himself, “What if there were a musical instrument in the shape of a wheel? And what if this wheel had strings for spokes, could spin, and when played, would sound like the wind?”


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Which unusual instrument was your favorite?

About wordcloud9

Nona Blyth Cloud has lived and worked in the Los Angeles area for the past 45 years, spending much of that time commuting on the 405 Freeway. After Hollywood failed to appreciate her genius for acting and directing, she began a second career managing non-profits, from which she has retired. Nona has now resumed writing whatever comes into her head, instead of reports and pleas for funding. She lives in a small house overrun by books with her wonderful husband and a bewildered Border Collie.
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11 Responses to TCS: A Salute to Wacky, Weird and Wonderful Musical Instruments

  1. The Monster Tubulum:

    Built by “the Jerrymobile” a Canadian teenager. He has gone on to other projects since building the Monster Tubulum. He has completed college, and is a filmmaker, percussionist, and humorist.

    Tune is called “Time to Start

    • wordcloud9 says:

      Really a lot of fun – the kid can play too

    • Terry Welshans says:

      Shades of the Blue Man Group.

      • The Celtic Lassie liked this one. His one-man take on the theme music from Dr. Who. Recorded in 2012.

      • wordcloud9 says:

        Good Morning Terry –

        When you start with Laughs and Music – the day can’t be all bad.

        • Terry Welshans says:

          Top of the day! The only sad I have today is our Cessna is in the shop getting a new radio installed, and the sky is soooooo blue.

          • wordcloud9 says:

            Aaww – hope it’s a one-day job, and tomorrow’s skies are just as blue!

          • 75º here, with high thin cirrus, wind about 4 kts out of the north. Dewpoint is 57º with no haze, so you can almost see forever.

            It’s actually chilly here in the house. I am going to go put on a long sleeve shirt.

          • Terry Welshans says:

            Wish it was a one day job. My local airport in Bardstown is undergoing a renovation project that will keep it closed until the 11th. I flew over to a nearby airport for the work and I won’t pick the airplane up until our airport reopens. I am grounded!

  2. Malisha says:

    About 30 years ago, whenever I would take kids to the Children’s Museum in my city, they would spend as much time as possible playing a large musical instrument that was basically an open closet with lights shining down in it. They’d wave their hands under the lights and the patterns would result in musical notes. You couldn’t pull them away from that too easily (but had to because other kids were in line). I don’t remember its name. It was mesmerizing. Years later a certain screen saver reminded me slightly of its “voice.”

    • wordcloud9 says:

      Sounds like fun – I saw a light-sound show set-up a number of years ago with squares on the floor, where you got a different note and colored light for each square – with a good memory and jumping skills,you could hop around and make a tune – there was a long line of kids, because they only let on two at a time – mostly it was chaos.

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