We’ve been inventing musical instruments since day two: day one we were busy toiling. A lot of these musical inventions are cross-overs, like the Harp-Guitar, but some are straight out of the weirdest and wackiest imaginations on Earth.
The Glass Armonica — also known as the Hydraulophone
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. 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. At any rate that’s what we do.
The Reed Box Tone Tool
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.
The 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 used eighth tones and had an independent rhythmical structure. Good luck trying to sell unique independent music today.
The Nyckelharpa looks more like a weapon than anything else. But, it’s 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, a traditional instrument that’s a cross-over of a few instruments. It can be plucked, bowed, pressed and picked. Here’s a video showing its versatility. Thomas Roth (Nyckelharpa) – Ingredients
Here is the Harp-Guitar in action. “View From Space” by Muriel Anderson.
Photo courtesy of http://www.tonedevilharpguitars.com/
This one you could call a little devil of an instrument. 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 tone 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 a 21-string instrument which looks and sounds like a Harp-Lute.
By Kannan Shanmugamstudio, Main Road,Kollam – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18077100
The Beer Box
Now here’s a useful instrument. Made famous by legendary Aussie folk musician, Ted Egan. People think you need to pay thousands 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 nowadays, but the sounds you can produce from this cardboard contraption are endless. Especially after consuming the contents of the box.
Photo courtesy of the ABC