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Awesome Musical Instruments

Piano with Real Hammers

Piano with Real Hammers

Those little felt-covered things that strike the strings in piano are known as hammers, but they definitely couldn’t drive a nail. Musician Mattias Krantz wanted to see what would happen if he replaced all 88 of the piano hammers with real metal hand tools. The resulting sound is surprisingly pleasant and melodic.

Burger + Fries Musical Instruments

Burger + Fries Musical Instruments
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Made by Japanese toy company Kiko+ and gg, this beechwood burger and fries are designed for kids, but we’d be happy to play with our food too. The cheeseburger clacks like a castanet, while the fries make the sounds of maracas. We want one of their telephones for our desk too.

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Low-budget Drum Kit

Low-budget Drum Kit

If you look around, you can find a bargain-basement drum kit for about $200. But if even that’s not in your budget, you could do what Deden Noy did, and make your own drums from plastic buckets, water bottles, scrap metal, and packing tape. Check out his YouTube channel for more performances.

Playing the Barricade

Playing the Barricade

When is a flute not a flute? When it’s a street barricade, of course. Musician Xavier Lozano demonstrates as he performs a brief piece of music on a metal barrier he drilled out to work as a wind instrument. Lozano is known for his ability to transform unusual objects into musical instruments.

The Mouth Violin

The Mouth Violin

Maker of unusual instruments and musician Nicolas Bras is back with another strange music maker. This time he’s showing off a one-string violin that uses its player’s mouth to produce resonant frequencies. In this case, it isn’t a totally original invention – it’s based on a Vietnamese instrument known as the k’ni.

CNC Carving a Violin

CNC Carving a Violin

Artist Dennis Van Hoof shows off his violin-making process which combines modern tech with traditional woodworking. He uses a Shapeoko XXL CNC router to carve the instrument’s pieces from olive wood, replicating the shape of a Stradivarius violin. The finished piece incorporates epoxy resin to fill in the gaps in the wood.

Self-Playing Circle Guitar

Self-Playing Circle Guitar

Wonder World shows us an unusual guitar that uses a motorized wheel to strum its strings, so the person playing it only needs to worry about the frets. Anthony Dickens‘ unique instrument has a other interesting innovations like the ability to output sounds one string at a time with the push of a button.

Interstellar on Cristal Baschet

Interstellar on Cristal Baschet

Invented in the 1950s, but rarely seen, the Cristal Baschet is a musical instrument that produces sounds by stroking a series of glass rods attached to metal rods. The ethereal sounds it produces are the perfect complement to Hans Zimmer’s theme from Interstellar, performed here by Marc Chouarain at SFL Studio Féerique.

Making Music with a Straw

Making Music with a Straw

Most wind instruments are made from wood or brass. But it turns out that a plastic straw can be modified to make music too. This video shows how late Danish musician Peter Bastian was adept at performing on a drinking straw with holes cut in it. Flutist Naveen Kumar shows how you can make your own here.

Does Helium Affect Wind Instruments?

Does Helium Affect Wind Instruments?

We all know that breathing helium makes you sound like Mickey Mouse. But does that pitch change affect the air you blow into a saxophone or a bagpipe? The guys from The King of the Random conducted a few experiments to test out the impact of helium and sulfur hexafluoride on the frequencies wind instruments produce.

Google Tone/Transfer

Google Tone/Transfer

Developed by Magenta using Google AI tech, Tone/Transfer takes ordinary sounds like a human voice and makes them sound like a musical instrument. It can also digest the sounds made by one kind of musical instrument and map them onto a different one. You can play with the online demo for yourself.

EWI Solo Electronic Wind Instrument

EWI Solo Electronic Wind Instrument

AKAI Pro’s standalone digital wind instrument can be played like a flute, oboe, or saxophone. It has 200 built-in acoustic and synthesized sounds, and can be listened to via its built-in speaker, a 1/4″ audio output, or headphones. It also works as a USB-MIDI controller.

Arturia MicroFreak Vocoder Edition

Arturia MicroFreak Vocoder Edition

The MicroFreak Vocoder Edition, is an an updated version of Arturia’s hybrid analog/digital synthesizer with voice-enhancing capabilities. It includes a 16-band vocoder and a gooseneck electret mic for capturing your voice. Those with a standard MicroFreak can add vocoder ability via a firmware update.

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Oscillatorial Binnage

Oscillatorial Binnage

The music that they create might not be the most melodic, but the way “post-electronic” London quartet Oscillatorial Binnage makes its strange and ethereal sounds certainly is creative. The band plays instruments made from recycled objects that reverberate when exposed to electromagnetic fields.

72 Homemade Instruments

72 Homemade Instruments

It’s not often that you encounter a musical instrument that you’ve never heard of. Well, here’s your chance to see and hear 72 of them, all played back-to-back by musician and inventor Nicolas Bras, who created each of these unusual instruments from scratch, mostly using things you can find at your local hardware store.

LEGO Microtonal Guitar

LEGO Microtonal Guitar

Musician Tolgahan Çoğulu shows off a unique instrument he put together after his son Atlas gave him the idea. The acoustic guitar uses LEGO studs all along its neck, allowing for microtonal positions throughout the fretboard. The trick was to build a custom 3D printed baseplate for the LEGO bricks to click onto.

Roadie 3 Automatic String Tuner

Roadie 3 Automatic String Tuner

The latest edition of the Roadie automatic tuner is twice as fast as the Roadie 2. It can tune almost any stringed instrument with geared pegs in a couple of seconds, and can quickly wind new strings to the proper tension before tuning. It also supports alternative tunings, and doubles as a vibrating metronome.

The Baroque Theorbo

The Baroque Theorbo

Here’s an unusual musical instrument we never heard of before now. Created in the 17th century, the enormous baroque theorbo is basically a lute on steroids. Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and lutenist Elizabeth Kenny explain the history of the theorbo, and provide a sampling of the sounds that it produces.

Typewriter Orchestra at Home

Typewriter Orchestra at Home

Typewriters have gone the way of the dinosaur, rarely used by anyone but the most hipster of writers these days. But the Boston Typewriter Orchestra continues to get use out of these mechanical office relics, even when forced to work from home due to their in-person concerts being canceled.

Klavins Vertical Pianos

Klavins Vertical Pianos

David Klavins builds musical instruments unlike any other. Combining design elements from upright and concert grand pianos, he builds modern, vertically-oriented instruments, including the world’s tallest piano, measuring 15 feet tall. Great Big Story went inside of Klavins’ workshop for a demo of these impressive pianos.

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offGrid Music Controller

offGrid Music Controller

This pocketable, palm-size gadget is a real-time performance controller for MIDI- or OSC-compatible music software. It has two backlit, velocity sensitive pad grids, an accelerometer, gyroscope, and a joystick for adding expression to your digital music. Pairs with iOS, Android, MacOS, and Windows via Bluetooth LE or USB Type-C.

Playing Other Instruments on a Violin

Playing Other Instruments on a Violin

You’d think that a violin could only sound like a violin, but OddViolin proves that wrong by making his sound like a flute, harmonica, cello, and even bagpipes. Previously, he convinced the string instrument to sound like animals and make various sound effects.

The Plantyflutsizer

The Plantyflutsizer

Artist and musician Bichopalo makes unusual electromechanical musical instruments which incorporate organic shapes and plant life. At the center of the magical Plantyflutesizer is a spherical birdhouse, where his avian pals Pico and Verdi take up residence and enjoy a soothing ambient tune.

MIDI-Controlled Pipe Organ

MIDI-Controlled Pipe Organ

With help from the Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago, musician Rob Scallon got to check out how a pipe organ works, and noticed that the one they have is capable of outputting MIDI signals. After a bit of experimenting, he figured out its keyboard and pedals can also be controlled via the digital music protocol.

Making a Sword Lap Guitar

Making a Sword Lap Guitar

Scrap wood City wanted to make a sword out of wood. But rather than just build a weapon, he created a funky musical instrument instead. The three-stringed electric lap guitar features brass and copper hardware, and can be played with a slide like a steel guitar.

Light-up Banjo Ukuleles

Light-up Banjo Ukuleles

Colorful, see-through Little Gem banjo ukuleles are fun to play and super fun to look at, especially the new light-up model with three LED settings, including sound-activated. It’s plastic but it’s a serious instrument, well-built with a maple neck, sealed tuners and USB charging cable. A NAMM “Best in Show” winner.

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