11 Unique and Beautiful Instruments with Mesmerizing Sounds

These unique and beautiful musical instruments are some of the oddest, yet most wonderfully sounding in the world.
Christopher McFadden

If you live and breathe musical instruments, but you seek something with a unique sound, then these instruments might just make your day. Some of these are so rare that there are only a few examples of them anywhere in the world. 



What are some of the most unique and beautiful instruments from around the world?

Here we have collected some examples of the most unique and interesting musical instruments in the world. This list is far from exhaustive and is in no particular order.

1. The "Cristal Baschet" is very unique and has a beautiful sound to boot

The "Cristal Baschet" was invented by François and Bernard Baschet, who are famed for dedicating their lives to developing sound sculptures and novel musical instruments. The brothers developed this unique musical instrument in the 1950s, and it consists of metal rods embedded into a heavy plate.

Each of these metal rods is accompanied by an attached chromatically tuned glass rod that is played by gently stroking a wet finger along it to produce a sound or note. The vibration of the glass passes through the metal rod and to the block of metal. The length of the metal rod determines the frequency of the sound. Fiberglass cones determine the amplification. 

2. The "Theremin" is another interesting and unique musical instrument

Called the "Theremin," this unique musical instrument is another of the world's most beautiful sounding and, frankly, strangest. Its spooky sound is produced without the use of keys or strings as with many other traditional instruments. In fact, it is controlled without physical contact at all by the player.

This instrument was developed by accident in the late 1910s when a young Russian physicist called Lev Sergeyevich Termen, westernized to Léon Theremin, was working on high-frequency oscillators and developed this strange electronic musical instrument.

He was trying to develop a way of measuring the dielectric constant of gases but inadvertently created a completely new musical instrument. Theremin did this by adding audio electronic circuitry to the device to produce an audible tone whenever it took a reading.

The result, however, was not what he expected. It not only responded to gases, as intended but also appeared to be affected by people near the machine. 

Players move their hands to manipulate electromagnetic fields around two antennae. Sound is controlled by moving hands and fingers around a vertical antenna to raise or lower the tone, and up or down over a looped antenna to control volume. 

The theremin's somewhat spacey sound made it popular in science-fiction films, where it was often used as background noise for an alien encounter, most famously in the classic 1951 movie The Day the Earth Stood Still.

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3. There are estimated to be only a couple of these interesting musical instruments in the entire world

This next unique and wonderfully sounding musical instrument is called the "Dan Tre." Meaning, roughly, "Bamboo musical instrument" in English, it produces some of the most interesting and unique sounds of any musical instrument in the world.

Devised by a Vietnamese refugee called Minh Tam Nguyen, it was developed to give him something to do while he was interned at a labor camp. This musical instrument is something of a fusion between European and Asian musical styles and was made entirely from recycled stuff he found around the camp.

4. The "Santour" is a wonderful sounding instrument

Called the "Santur" or "Santour," this is another of the world's most unique sounding musical instruments. It is one of the world's oldest struck stringed instruments and is thought to be of Persian origin.

These musical instruments may have originally been made from tree bark, stones, and gruesomely, stringed goat's intestines. It is made up of strings stretched across a flat, trapezoidal wooden frame. The strings are beaten with small wooden hammers or mallets.

Its name means something like "100 strings," but most examples only ever have between 72 and 100 strings in total. The "Santour" is also believed to be the forerunner of many other similar instruments like the hammered dulcimer, the Chinese yangqin, the zither, and many more.

5. The traditional Korean "Haegeum" is another unique musical instrument

The "Haegeum" is another of the world's most unique and beautiful sounding musical instruments. It is a traditional Korean instrument and is made from paulownia wood and is open at the back. It has two strings made of twisted silk and attached to the bottom of the soundbox. The strings then pass over a wooden bridge and up a long bamboo neck, where they attach to pegs. 

Clay is sometimes used to coat the inside of the instrument's soundbox to give it improved resonance and improve the durability of the instrument.

The instrument is played with two hands. One hand is used to create tension on the strings, while the other is used to move the bow and create notes.

6. The "Tenor Cornett" is another of the world's most unique and interesting musical instruments

Common in the Renaissance, the "Tenor Cornett" is another strange yet wonderfully sounding musical instrument. It is a wind instrument with a peculiar curved shape resembling a flattened letter s. Most existing models are made of leather covered in wood.

The tenor cornett was most popular during the 17th and 18th centuries, when it was primarily an ensemble instrument, and no traditional solo music for the instrument survives today.

The picture above is of an instrument that is thought to have been purchased in 1608 by a group of Norwich musicians who were employed to play for royal visitors, lead mayoral processions, or even wake people up on winter mornings.

7. This unique musical instrument was invented by Benjamin Franklin

This unique and strange musical instrument was invented by none other than the great Benjamin Franklin. Called the "The Glass Armonica," it produces one of the strangest, yet soothing, sounds.

This instrument works via the same principle as playing the rims of filled wine glasses with a wet finger and consists of a series of glass bowls. Each bowl was made to the specific size and thickness to give the desired pitch without being filled with any water. A hole was drilled through the center of each bowl, and they were connected using an iron rod. The rod was attached to a wheel, which was turned by a foot pedal. The player touched moistened fingers to the edge of the spinning glasses to produce the musical sounds.

It is possible to play multiple notes using this instrument at any one time. Great composers like Mozart and Beethoven even composed some pieces specifically for it, but the instrument never really took off.

8. Have you heard a microtonal guitar?

Microtonal guitars are another of the world's most unique sounding musical instruments too. Their name comes from the fact that they are able to use microtones, or intervals smaller than a semitone.

With the one included above, you also get a double-whammy thanks to it being made, in part, from LEGO blocks! Lucky you. 

9. The "Intonarumori" is an interesting musical instrument too

Another of the world's most unique and interesting musical instruments are the famed "Intonarumori" ('noises player'). These were a group of 27 experimental musical instruments invented and built by the Italian futurist Luigi Russolo between roughly 1910 and 1930. 

All of the instruments were acoustic and used different types of internal construction. Several used a wheel touching a string attached to a drum. The wheel bowed the strings, and the drum acted as an acoustic resonator. Other instruments used a handle on top of the box. The handle was pulled to vary the tension on a string, while a horn attached to the box amplified the sound. 

10. The "Hang Drum" is cool too

The "Hang Drum", "Hang" or "hand pan" is another of the world's most unique and interestingly sounding musical instruments. Created by Felix Rohner and Sabina Schärer in BernSwitzerland, this instrument certainly has a unique sound to it.

11. The "Pyrophone" is another amazing musical instrument

The "Pyrophone" is yet another of the world's most amazing and unique instruments. Also known as a "fire/explosion organ" or "fire/explosion calliope," this instrument uses controlled explosions to force exhaust down the pipes to make the sounds. 

It was created by Georges Frédéric Eugène Kastner sometime around 1870. Kastner was the son of the famed composer Jean-Georges Kastner.

Bonus - Have you ever heard the soothing sound of the Yaybahar?

And finally, the Yaybahar is another of the world's most unique-sounding musical instruments.

 Invented by a Turkish musician, Gorkem Sen, the Yaybahar is the culmination of six years of refinement by its creator. It consists of two drums connected to a long spring, which is connected to a tall neck with two strings. As the strings are plucked or bowed, the vibrations travel along the coil to the drums.

Attending performances of this incredible instrument is not just an audible treat -- you can really feel the music!

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