It’s often said that the most talented musicians are the most inventive. And when incredibly talented musicians imagine a sound that they can’t create through conventional instruments, it’s only a matter of time before they invent a way to realise the music playing in their mind’s ear.

Here are some of the most amazing alternative instruments out there.


Marble Machine

The sheer satisfaction of watching this video is something else. Swedish band Wintergaten’s Martin Molin took 14 months to assemble this machine that holds 2000 marbles. Molin has to crank his Marble Machine with his hands and adjust the levers to create this amazingly lilting music. You gotta love the Swedes for doing cool stuff like this.



Do you know what nitride steel sheets are? No? Well, if you watch the video above, you know what half-shells of these sheets sound like. Resembling warriors’ shields from the Middle Ages, the Hang is a relative newbie in the music world and was born only in 2000. It was created by Felix Rohner and Sabina Schärer and became instantly famous. We’re betting this is going to become your de-stress music in no time.


Array Mbira

What’s common between Sting, Imogen Heap and Zakir Hussain? This weird-looking lullaby-sounding instrument called Array Mbira. The instrument is a reimagined African Mbira and was invented by Bill Wesley by manually pushing down and releasing bent high carbon spring steel called tines. You can play either the hollow body or the solid body version of the Array Mbira today. So popular are they that you’ve heard them play while watching Breaking Bad and True Blood without knowing what they were. Until now that is!


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Singing Ringing Tree

Imagine a natural landscape suddenly spewing music from pipes held together to resemble a tree. This isn’t some movie set on Mars that we’re talking about, but the site of the Singing Ringing Tree near Lancashire in England. The 3-metre-tall ‘tree’ is made of galvanized steel pipes that produce some seriously eerie music, especially if you’re in the area during darkness hours. Why the place doesn’t have its own music festival beats us!


Singing Tesla Coil

Also called Zeusaphone and Thoramin, this love child between a solid state Tesla coil and a plasma speaker is a musical and a visual delight. The name Zeusaphone came from the Greek god of lightning, Zeus. It even caught the imagination of Disney in its flop film, The Sorcerers Apprentice. We have a feeling this device will be going places in the near future.



You know what’s better than inventing an instrument? An instrument built for only one musician – especially if she’s as eclectic as Bjork. Custom-made for the Icelandic artiste for her album Biophilia in 2011, Gameleste is a combination of Gamelan and Celesta. What are those? Well, Gamelan sounds like a piano but with a softer tone while a Celesta is an Indonesian percussion instrument. Trust Bjork to fuse together something as unrelated as these and create the Gameleste!


Musical Glasses

We love when physics does the seemingly impossible and holds us in thrall. Just look at this video. It looks like the music is being played by magic. In reality the musicians create music through friction between glass bowls of varied shapes. Prepare to have your mind blown with this one.

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