A musical instrument is a device created or adapted to make musical sounds. That’s a basic definition right but music lovers will not accept that with glee. People who either play instruments or love the sounds which these music instruments make will tell you that these devices either brings them peace, gives them expression, transports them to another realm… The reasons are unquantifiable.
There are some music instruments that are easily identifiable because they are used very often especially in the western world like the Piano, Guitar, Violin, drum, the harp, saxophone and from Africa, the talking drum, shekere, tambourine, gong and the likes. These instruments make beautiful sounds and are appreciated by so many.
However, there are some instruments that make sounds that you will not forget in a hurry. Instruments that are unique to a particular culture and may not have gained world-wide recognition. These instruments are worth talking about because just like the others, they come with benefits other than just producing sweet sounds.
Here are 10 unusual music instruments from around the world;
The Ðàn Tre, which is translated (bamboo musical instrument) was made by a Vietnamese refugee known as Minh Tam Nguyen to give himself a creative outlet in the labour camp he had been sent to. This is a pretty unusual as there are only two in the world. With a fusion of European and Asian musical traditions, it is made from recycled materials found around the camp: a bamboo tube; a four-liter tin of olive oil that amplifies the sound traveling down the tube; and 23 strings made from the inside of a United States army telephone cable.
The tenor cornett is a wind instrument popular from around 1500 to 1650. Also known as a lizard for its serpentine shape, it is made from a wooden pipe with finger holes along the body and is said to be difficult to play as people who attempted to do so said it is tiring if done for an extended period of time. With a range of two and a half octaves, the cornett was mainly used to reinforce the human voice in choirs, particularly those of countertenors.
The copper serpent came into fashion in the late 16th century in France. This instrument was traditionally made from wood bound together by leather, but with civilization, copper became more commonly used as it proved to be more stable. This instrument was originally held vertically, but later with much tweaking, musicians began to play the instrument horizontally.
This musical instrument looks really beautiful and could be mistaken for a tray. The Mayuri is a peacock-shaped variation of the esraj – the stringed part of the instrument – and it is popular in the Indian courts of the 19th century. The peacock is a symbol of India and is associated with Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of music. It is also made using real peacock feathers and a real peacock bill. It has moveable, arched metal frets and a belly made out of parchment and is played while kneeling.
What an instrument! The Chime bells were an important instrument during China’s Qin and Han Dynasties. Hung on a frame and arranged by size, the bells were carefully constructed so that different areas made different sounds when struck. Each bell makes two distinct tones, which are three scales apart. The chime bells are usually played by five musicians – two musicians stand in front, with long wooden sticks that hit the bells, which make the low pitches; and three stand behind, hitting the alto and high-pitched bells with T-shaped wooden hammers. Quite a complicated one right?
Musical experts with penchant for history claim the Russian bassoon is a misleading name for this instrument. It is actually a type of bass horn which wasn’t invented in Russia, but in France. The reason it earned its name is because it was used in the 18th century in military bands in Prussia and Russia. Its vertical length and straight pipe made it easier to play while marching—or even riding horses. It has six finger holes, three keys and a bell at the end that is uniquely painted to look like a dragon.
This title is self-explanatory – combination of the cello and the horn. The sound created by bowing the strings comes out of the brass horn instead of through a traditional wooden body. The sound it produces is reportedly somewhere between strings and brass.
Played like the xylophone, the balafon is a percussion instrument and can be found in Ghana, Ivory Coast, Mali, and Burkina Faso. It has been in recorded history since the 14th century and according to oral history (told by griots) the instrument originated from Mali.
This is basically a clay water jug with an extra hole in it. The udu is centuries-old and played by the Igbo women (south-eastern Nigeria). When the player hits it with their palm or fingers, it produces a ‘liquidy’, water droplet sound.
The marimba is a set of wooden bars struck with mallets to produce notes. The keys are arranged similarly to a piano’s. Created in Zimbabwe, the instrument is known as the ‘mother of song’ and creator of musical instruments. It was introduced to Central America in 1680, and in 1821 it was declared the national instrument of Guatemala.
It might be pretty hard to understand the sounds the instruments produce until you hear them. Ibiene considers these beautiful sounds as a gift we should all enjoy.
Is there any not so popular musical instrument in your community that people should know about? Please share with us in the comment section.