List of Strange Musical Instruments

1. Pyrophone Organ

Also goes by the name fire organ or the explosion organ – yes, that's right, and for a good reason. These organs are powered by combustion. In other words, if you plan on playing this organ, you actually have to light a part of it on fire. Playing the pyrophone organ is supposedly safe. It is powered either by gasoline or by propane and the idea is that the explosions of the gasoline or propane are what makes the sound, as they force the combustible materials down the pipes. They can also be regulated so the fire organ is not only capable of making sound through lighting gasoline or propane on fire – well, to be hones, anyone can do that – but also produces tones of fixed pitches and is even capable of dynamical shading.

2. The Musical Stones of Skiddaw

This is a giant, stony xylophone thing, that took Joseph Richardson 13 years to build, using hornfels slate from the Lake District. Supposedly, Queen Victoria witnessed performances of Handel, Mozart and Rossini's music on these "Musical Stones" that are currently stationed in the Keswick Museum and Art Gallery in Cumbria. If you visit this museum, by the way, you will not only be able to see it, but will also be invited to play it. What is most peculiar about this instrument is the fact that it gives out sound of different color. Some plates sound similar to a wooden xylophone, while others sound as if you hit a glass with a stick.

3. Sharpsichord

There is no easy way to describe this instrument, created by a sound sculptor named Henry Dagg. In short, Sharpsochord is a gargantuan pin-barrel harp with 11 cylinders, and some rotating pins that strike internal strings. It also has numerous other parts like a rocking bridge, solar panels, batteries etc.

4. The Singing Ringing Tree

This is a sculpture, actually, located near Burnley on the Pennine moors. It is three meter high and it uses the strong westerly winds to make the sound. The sculpture is comprised out of a big number pipes that sound as the winds blow through them, making a ghostly sound. Its desigers are the architects Mike Tonkin and Anna Liu (made it in 2006), who won a Royal Institute of British Architects award for their work.

5. Cello Horn

The title says it all. It is one of the hybrid instruments that was created in the thirties. The sound came out of the horn, but was produced by bowing of the strings. Supposedly, it sounded precisely like the mix between a cello and a horn.

6. Cheese Drums

Yes, someone thought of that as well. It is what it is. A drum set made of cheeses. Maybe it was made because someone was bored and maybe because someone's parents were sick of all the drumming and decided it was time to muffle down the sound.

7. The Vegetable Orchestra

Playing on food seems to be more and more popular. You wouldn't believe how much instruments can be made out of vegetables, for instance. But the Vegetable Orchestra form Vienna realized they can make recorders, pan-pipes and clarinets from carrots, and use cabbages and other plants to make interesting music.

8. The Cat Piano

Middle ages were dark, as they say, but it seems that the 17. century wasn't much better either. At the time, Athanasius Kircher, German Jesuit scholar, decided it would be good to make a piano with live cats. You poke a cat with a nail, the cat screams and voilà. To make things worse, it was probably designed to change the behavior of psychiatric patients through shock (not sure how). Luckily, it seems it was never actually built.

9. Fluba

It was made by a legendary tubist Jim Self, with a little help from his friend, a of brass manufacturer Robb Stewart. Another hybrid: a flugelhorn and a tuba. A large flugelhorn.

10. The Harpitar

A combination of a guitar and a harp (kinda like the keytar, only much stranger). With six strings that are strung like when playing a guitar, stretched across the body of a harp, the reasons for making this instrument are not really clear. As it's constructor said, "the result is that it combines the simple chromatic scale of the guitar with the peculiarly beautiful tones of the harp".