The World’s Most Amazing Musical Instruments

Glass Armonica in Rome© Wikimedia Commons

Glass Armonica in Rome
© Wikimedia Commons

Humans have been inventing musical instruments since day two: day one we were busy toiling. A lot of these musical inventions are crossovers, like the Harp-Guitar, but some are straight out of the weirdest and wackiest imaginations on earth — take a look at these amazing musical instruments.

Glass Armonica — also known as the Hydraulophone

Glass Armonica© Wikimedia Commons

Glass Armonica
© Wikimedia Commons

Invented by one of the founding fathers of the United States, Benjamin Franklin, this sweet-sounding instrument was probably designed after a few glasses of wine. At least that’s what happens at most parties after a bucket or two of wine that I go to. People think they are musically inclined and begin to prove their discovery by sticking their fingers in your wine and making circles around the rim of your glass to create a sound. At any rate, that’s what my mate does.

Reed Box Tone Tool

Reed Box Tone Tool© omeka.cloud.unimelb.edu.au

Reed Box Tone Tool
© omeka.cloud.unimelb.edu.au

Amazing Australian composer and inventor of musical instruments, Percy Grainger (1882-1961), who reportedly loved blue roses, (look it up) made instruments that look and sounded like nothing else. Grainger’s unique style and sensibility helped shape the music of Australian composers to come. Percy was such a crafty musician and creator; he even has a museum named after him – University of Melbourne’s Grainger Museum.

Listen to Percy introducing and playing his invention. First gliding chords on the reed box tone tool.

Free Music Machine

It’s Percy Grainger again, who else? Percy was so fascinated with creating music and instruments, he along with musician and singer Burnett Cross invented The Free Music Machine. A complicated-looking construction based on and even more complicated musical design. It uses eighth tones and has an independent rhythmical structure. Good luck trying to sell unique independent music today.

Nyckelharpa© Wikimedia Commons

© Wikimedia Commons


The Nyckelharpa looks more like a weapon than anything else. But, its sound is to die for. This one has a multitude of strings, and these things called key-actuated tangents, which change the pitch. From Sweden, it’s a traditional instrument that’s a crossover of a few other instruments. It can be plucked, bowed, pressed and picked. Here’s a video showing its versatility. Thomas Roth (Nyckelharpa) – Ingredients

Harp-Guitar© Wikimedia Commons

© Wikimedia Commons


Here is Jamie Dupuis on Harp-Guitar performing The Sound of Silence.

This one you could call a little devil of an instrument because that’s its nickname, the little devil. Invented in either England or France around the early 19th Century. It is probably an offshoot of the Harp-Lute. Invented by a one A.B. Ventura. Like a lot of combination-instruments, the sound of the Harp-Guitar is smooth and dreamy because of the blending of the individual tones. But, its origins could be from West Africa. The Kora is an instrument which looks and sounds a bit like a Harp-Lute.

Kora© Wikimedia Commons

© Wikimedia Commons


The West African harp-like instrument the Kora has 21 strings and a beautiful sound. It accompanies the human voice superbly. It has a long history going back before the Baroque period. Its portability has seen it become a national instrument for many people in Africa. You can see from its construction and its sound, where the modern harp came from. Here it is explained how you play it and you can hear its bright sound.

Subcontrabass Flute© Wikimedia Commons

Subcontrabass Flute
© Wikimedia Commons

The Subcontrabass Flute looks like an oversized paperclip. But it sure doesn’t sound like one. So, just how low can you go on this massive instrument? It goes down to C1. That’s the first C on a standard piano. Go and hit that note now and imagine it sounding on a flute, scary, hey? It stands about 2.5 meters high and has almost seven meters of tubing. It weighs about 15 kilos, so it can’t be held and played at the same time unless you are a superwoman.

Perhaps the most useful, and the most portable instrument in the world is The Beer Box

Now here’s a handy instrument. Made famous by legendary Aussie folk musician, Ted Egan. People think you need to pay thousands of dollars to buy a unique musical instrument. Not so. And, this one comes with a free case of beer. Of course, the box is about $50.00 nowadays, but the sounds you can produce from this cardboard contraption are limitless, especially after consuming the contents of the beer box.

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  1. Everyone loves music, some like to play musical instruments and some like to simply listen to the music. A song would be meaningless if there is no music in it. You might be a music lover but have you heard of stalacpipe organ? There are many weird and bizarre musical instruments in the world that you’ve never listened of.

  2. Armonica is not the same thing as hydraulophone, e.g. armonica is played by wet fingers but sound comes from vibrations in spinning glass bowls or glass disks. Hydraulophone sounds very similar but sound comes from vibrations in water, and it is played by blocking water jets. It may or may not necessarily have spinning disks inside it.

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