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Unusual Instruments: Other

Backgrounds and Videos of Unusual and Unique Musical Instruments

Bullroarer

The bullroarer is an ancient ritual musical instrument and a device historically used for communicating over greatly extended distances. It dates to the Paleolithic period, being found in Ukraine dating from 17,000 BC. A bullroarer consists of a weighted airfoil (a rectangular thin slat of wood about 15 cm (6 in) to 60 cm (24 in) long and about 1.25 cm (0.5 in) to 5 cm (2 in) wide) attached to a long cord. Typically, the wood slat is trimmed down to a sharp edge around the edges.

The cord is given a slight initial twist, and the roarer is then swung in a large circle in a horizontal plane, or in a smaller circle in a vertical plane. It makes a characteristic roaring vibrato sound with notable sound modulations occurring from the rotation of the roarer along its longitudinal axis, and the choice of whether a shorter or longer length of cord is used to spin the bullroarer. By modifying the expansiveness of its circuit and the speed given it, and by changing the plane in which the bullroarer is whirled from horizontal to vertical or vice versa, the modulation of the sound produced can be controlled, making the coding of information possible. The low-frequency component of the sound travels extremely long distances, clearly audible over many miles on a quiet night.

- from Wikipedia

Marble Machine

It was built by Swedish musician Martin Molin, who created a wooden music box powered by marbles, using pulleys, levers, and gears.

The user turns a crank that moves 2,000 marbles around on tracks and through funnels. The marbles then travel around and come in contact with other instruments like a kick drum, a bass guitar, and a marimba.

- from Wintergatan

Kazoo

The kazoo is a musical instrument that adds a "buzzing" timbral quality to a player's voice when the player vocalizes into it. It is a type of mirliton, which is a membranophone, one of a class of instruments which modifies its player's voice by way of a vibrating membrane. So it is not exactly a woodwind and not exactly a percussion instrument.

A kazoo player hums, rather than blows, into the instrument. The oscillating air pressure of the hum makes the kazoo's membrane vibrate. The resulting sound varies in pitch and loudness with the player's humming. Players can produce different sounds by singing specific syllables such as doo, who, rrrrr or brrrr into the kazoo.

- from Wikipedia

Singing, Ringing Tree

A musical sculpture standing in the wind on a hill overlooking Burnley, UK. The tree is constructed of stacked pipes of varying lengths, orientated to lean into the directions of the prevailing wind. As the wind passes through the different lengths of pipe, it plays different chords. Each time you sit under the tree, looking out through the wind, you will hear a different song.