5 Unusual Musical Instruments

June 6, 2023

We’ve all heard of the piano and guitar. But what about some of the relatively unknown and wacky instruments around the globe? Here’s a roundup of a few of them:

The theremin is one of the strangest instruments to stumble across. One of the earliest electronic instruments, it consists of two metal antennas that are able to detect the player’s hands. You essentially control the volume and pitch by moving your hand across. It is extremely sensitive, recognizing the slightest touch.

German musician and world renowned Theremin player Carolina Eyck plays the instrument

Getty Images/ AFP/ Sebastien Bozon

Developed by indigenous Australians, the didgeridoo is quite possibly the world’s oldest wind instrument. While it might look easy to play, it involves a very particular technique to produce the right pitch. Sound is blown out of the instrument using a method called circular breathing. It looks similar to a trumpet, but creates a drone sound. It is also a significant part of the local culture and rituals.

Glass Armonica
The glass armonica takes making music with a wine glass on a whole other level. One of the most unique instruments, it comprises a series of glass bowls that are different sizes. By rubbing one’s fingers over the glass, it produces distinctive sounds that can be built into chords and melodies. Funnily enough, it was invented by Benjamin Franklin in 1761 who was fascinated by the sound.

It’s difficult to pronounce, and even harder to play. The crwth is an ancient Welch instrument which is fairly similar to a violin, although with a softer tone. Dating back to the 11th century, it consists of a fretless fingerboard, a bow and six strings. It’s interesting to note that crwyths are so old that only four original versions exist across the world today.

The kalimba is a small hand-held instrument that has its origins in Africa. It consists of a wooden box with metal tines attached to it, which are plucked with the player’s thumbs, due to which it’s sometimes termed a “thumb piano”. The kalimba is unusual due to its unique enchanting sound and incredible range.