By Quinn Hoop
Are you bored with the dominance of the modern musical instrument set? Are you tired of hearing songs played by pianos, guitars, drums, or various brass, string, and woodwind instruments? Do you seek a new method to let your soulful melodies fill the air around you? Well here is a set of three unique musical instruments that just might be right for you:
- Theremin: The poster child of eclectic musical instruments, the theremin is the brainchild of Russian physicist /mathematician Leon Theremin. Invented in 1919 (patented in 1928 in the US), Lev Segeyevich Termin (as he was known in the USSR) created the first prototype after doing research for the Soviet Union on proximity sensors. It consists of two metal antennae protruding from a metal box, and is played by moving one’s hands above the wires. The Theremin is one of the only musical instruments that requires no physical contact to be played.
- Armonica: Also known as the glass harmonica, it is a series of glass bowls mounted on a horizontal axle. The player wets their fingers as the axle begins to rotate (either by foot-pedal or electric motor), and the player places their fingers on the bowls. Much as you would play a wine glass or other ringing glass instrument, the player runs their hands along the bowls, each of which is made with the proportions to play a specific note. This particular glass instrument was put together first in 1761 by Benjamin Franklin. This guy always shows up where you least expect him.
- Stalacpipe Organ: Considered to be the largest instrument in the world, the Stalacpipe Organ is 3.5 acres wide, and consists of a good portion of the Luray caverns in Virginia. It was created by a certain Leland W. Sprinkle in 1954, who was amazed by the natural abilities of some stalactites to produce sound when struck with a mallet. Of course, being a sensible man, Sprinkle reasoned that the only course of action was to test every single stalactite and stalagmite in the cave system with a tuning fork, and then wire up machines to hit them when a certain key was pressed at a centralized location. The sound can be heard almost anywhere within the 64 acre cave system. For reference, that’s almost as loud as hearing the KRRC studio at 1am from ODB.
Bonus Fun Fact: Every instrument on this list was invented by a man closely associated with the governments of either the US or USSR.