So recently, I’ve begun take bass guitar lessons, but deciding on which instrument to learn was quite difficult… String, percussion, brass or woodwind? I had a look into several different options and found some very peculiar instruments that just needed to be shared!
Crocodile zither | Burma
First up, is the crocodile zither (mi gyaung), which is a traditional instrument from Burma that is a fretted, and played by plucking its three strings. Obviously, someone combined their love of string instruments and crocodiles to create this instrument, which dates back to the 19th century. (Now if only I could combine my love of pianos and travel insurance.)
Harp guitar | France
A harp guitar is – shockingly enough – a combination of a guitar and a harp. Mental. What is even more astonishing is that someone went to all the trouble to create not only an acoustic version but also an electric version. The first true harp guitar was created in Paris in 1773 by a harp maker named Naderman.
Glass harmonica | USA
The armonica – or in simple terms a glass harmonica – was invented by Benjamin Franklin in 1761. Both Mozart and Beethoven composed music on the armonica. By the mid-1800s, it suddenly lost its popularity, and slowly disappeared. Armonicas were said to drive performers nutty and conjure spirits of the dead because of its creepy and haunting sound.
Gajda | Bulgaria, Greece, Romania and Turkey
The gajda is essentially a bagpipe, and is mostly made of sheep or goat hide – sometimes you’ll see one with hooves or a head still attached! Bulgaria, Greece, Romania and Turkey all have their own adaptations of this “instrument”.
Contrabass anaconda | France
This is the contrabass anaconda, also known as “the serpent”… Even the names sound menacing! It’s usually a long cone bent into a snake. Generally made out of wood, this instrument is a combination of bass and wind instruments. It is a descendant of the cornett, and a distant ancestor of the tuba. The mouthpiece is like a brass instrument but it has side holes like a woodwind.
The cat piano/organ | France, again
The cat piano/organ is a musical instrument which involves lining up kitties, arranged according to their natural tone of voice, and fixing them in place with their tails stretched out underneath a keyboard so that they cry when a key is pressed. Thankfully, there is no official evidence of a cat organ ever being made; it was described by the French writer Jean-Baptiste Weckerlin in his book Musiciana as a peculiar concept.