As in last month’s post, this post will explore five more creative instruments from around the world. This line up includes some objects that don’t seem like they should be used musically but they are, and the result is impressive. As before, feel free to click the name of each one to hear how they sound.
The Jaw Harp
The Jaw Harp is a small mouth instrument that creates a resonating, vibration-like sound. It is thought to have originated in Asia or Europe around the 14th century. There are some who believe that it is one of the oldest instruments ever invented. The construction of the Jaw Harp is rather simple: there is a small groove that is placed in the user’s mouth, that is connected to a little frame and features a tongue-shaped piece that sticks out parallel to the user’s face. Whoever plays the Jaw Harp places the groove in their mouth and then strums the tongue-shaped portion to create quiet sounds and simple melodies.
The hydraulophone is part of a class of instruments that was created by Steve Mann in the 1980s. These instruments are made to use water to produce sound, the way that wind instruments use air. Mann considers them water flutes. These large instruments feature a significantly curved pipe that the player stands behind with water flowing out of many small holes on the front. This water flows into a trough of sorts on the front to be reused. The player then covers various holes with there fingers to redirect the water and create pleasing melodies.
The crwth is a bowed Welsh lyre that originated in the Middle Ages. When it was first invented – it was traditionally plucked but is now played with a bow. This unique little instrument was often used to play medieval folk music and is still regularly performed in Welsh music. The Crwth is placed in the player’s lap and is played similar to the cello. There are six strings on a wooden frame – one string used to carry the melody with the other five supporting it. This instrument produces an impressive depth of sound with a straightforward melodic tone that is very reminiscent of Medieval folk music.
The Conch Shell
The conch shell is an excellent example of using an item from nature to create a unique and complex instrument. Called a Pu in island nations, the conch shell was commonly played as a ceremonial trumpet. The sound is produced by blowing into one end of the shell and then inserting fingers or your hand into the open part of the shell at differing depths to create varying notes and sounds. The conch produces trumpet-like and atmospheric sounds. These sounds change depending on the size of the conch and the amount of breath that is blown into it.
The Zadar Sea Organ
This organ is probably one of the most fascinating instruments on this list. The Zadar Sea Organ is not played by a human at all but is instead controlled by the ocean itself. Created underneath a set of marble stairs on the shore of Zadar, Croatia, the Zadar Sea Organ creates unique and harmonious sounds as ocean waves hit tube structures. The melody is never the same and always changing and is characterized by the flow of the sea which adds to the charm of this unusual instrument.
All of these instruments and many more not named are great examples of the musical genius that exists in the world. Let us continue to invent incredible instruments and fill the world with beautiful music!