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Top 11 Most Unique Musical Instruments From Around the Globe

Top 11 Most Unique Musical Instruments From Around the Globe

You love music, and you know all about the most common instruments. You know that a piano is technically a string instrument, that the buzz of your mouth that makes a brass instrument sing is called an embouchure, and even all about those tricky and rare double-reed instruments like the oboe and bassoon. Don’t think you know it all just yet; there are still even more instruments that just may blow your mind! Perhaps if you’re brave enough, you’ll try your hand at playing one of these unique musical instruments from around the world, listed in no particular orders. Who knows what hidden talents you’ll discover?

Contrabass Balalaika

This strange instrument originated from Russia in the 17th century. It’s a string instrument played with the fingers, but what gives it its unique quality is that, unlike most string instruments, its body is triangular. That makes it look much like a giant triangular guitar that you might consider a joke if you saw someone play it in person.

Yaybahar

The yaybahar is a tough one to describe, so you’ll have to see it for yourself. (Check it out here.) Essentially, it’s a large setup made of drums and coiled springs. When played, it sounds electric, but it’s actually 100 percent acoustic. The coiled springs make for an interesting echo that’s somewhat reminiscent of laser guns in old space movies. This is a recent invention by Turkish musician Gorkem Sen.

Glass Harmonica

It’s not really a harmonica, but it produces a beautiful sound nonetheless. This strange instrument is also referred to as the:

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  • Armonica
  • Bowl Organ
  • Hydrocystalophone

It uses a series of glass bowls that produce various notes and tones based on their size. The armonica is played through friction of the fingers on the glass as the instrument spins around an axis. It was invented in 1761 by Benjamin Franklin. Take a look at this instrument in action here:

https://youtu.be/eQemvyyJ–g

Hydraulophone

Not many instruments are played using water. Maybe you’ve tried your hand at making music with crystal glasses and water, but you probably haven’t seen anything like a hydraulophone. This bizarre instrument uses direct contact with water to generate sound hydraulically. Invented by Steve Mann, you have to see this one for yourself:

https://youtu.be/GWmiBVndVMY

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Jaw Harp

A jaw harp, also called a GewGew in England — though it goes by many other names depending on the region — is a small instrument made of metal or bamboo. Inside the small frame sits a flexible tongue that creates the vibrations you hear when the instrument is played. The performer places the instrument in their mouth and plucks the tongue of the device to produce a sound. The performer can then influence the pitch by how they form their own lips and tongue as the instrument vibrates.

Lur

The lur is an instrument made of varying materials in numerous sizes and shapes. At its core, a lur is a horned instrument without finger holes. Instead, it’s played by manipulating the shape of your embouchure. This instrument can be dated back to the Bronze Age in areas like Denmark and Germany, but it’s also been seen more recently in Scandinavia during the Middle Ages when it was made of wood. The lur can be straight or curved, sometimes reaching up to two meters, and made of wood or bronze.

Picasso Guitar

As one might suspect, the Picasso guitar was named after painter Pablo Picasso who was known for taking real-life objects and painting them abstractly. The Picasso guitar is much like what you’d expect the painter to create if asked to paint a guitar. Made with 42 strings, four necks, and two sound holes, the guitar doesn’t look like it should actually play music, but it does! This instrument was originally built by jazz guitarist Pat Metheny in 1984.

Sharpsichord

The sharpsichord is an incredibly complicated instrument designed by Henry Dagg. It was created as part of a project by the English Folk Dance and Song Society and took Dagg five years to build. Once completed, he bought himself out of the contract so he could keep the instrument for himself. It contains 11,520 holes along with a solar-powered rotating cylinder that plucks strings inside the instrument.

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Didgeridoo

The didgeridoo is an ancient Australian instrument said to date back 40,000 years, although the exact history of the instrument is unknown. It’s a massive wind instrument in the aerophone category. This straight tube ranges in length from one to three meters, and the opening’s width can vary. It’s played with vibrating lips and doesn’t use any finger holes. Most didgeridoo players use a technique called circular breathing to continuously produce a sound.

Zeusaphone

The Zeusaphone creates music using Tesla coils. This instrument was trademarked in 2007 and remains to be one of the most mesmerizing instruments today. Not only does it create sound, but it makes for a spectacular visual display as well. By connecting the Tesla coils to a computer or keyboard synthesizer, you can make music through electrical arcs that literally light up the stage like lightning. See the Zeusaphone in action here:

https://youtu.be/eXsfGVVGb-Y

Nyckelharpa

The nyckelharpa, also called a keyed fiddle, is considered to be one of the oldest known instruments still around today. It was introduced in Sweden around 1350. It’s made of 16 strings and 37 keys. Players use the keys as frets to change the strings’ pitches while running the bow across the strings. This instrument may be more common than you think, though. There’s actually an American Nyckelharpa Association dedicated to this Swedish instrument. As they report on their website, there are four versions of this instrument played today, which is uncommon for folk instruments. You can search their website for folk music events if you’d like to see a nyckelharpa in person.

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The world is full of strange instruments, so if you think you’ve checked out the bulk of them, think again. Which one of these bizarre instruments would you be most interested in playing or seeing in concert?

Featured photo credit: Shutterstock via shutterstock.com

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Jennifer Paterson

President of California Music Studios

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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