10 of the lesser known musical instruments we should know about

10 of the lesser known musical instruments we should know about

We all love to listening music, either to boost ourselves up or to relax on a slow Sunday morning. There is music for almost every mood one can imagine themselves in. Good music is often an outcome of an amazing synchronization of different instruments. While some are well-known to the world, others are far away from recognition. Every musical instrument has a distinct role in producing great music. 

From oversized instruments that don’t even fit in our hands, to the ones kept in caves to have one of its kind sound effects, this list presents the most bizarre yet lesser-known musical instruments:

  1. Ravanahatha

Source: Indian music school

Ravanahatha, also known as Ravana Hasta Veena is an amazing instrument native to India. It is a stringed instrument with a bowl-shaped coconut shell, usually played by street musicians in rural areas. Ravanahatha is a very important component of the Rajasthan folk music world and could be easily spotted in the state. It is believed to have been invented by the people of Lanka, the homeland of the mythical demon king Ravan. Moreover, many legends even tell that this instrument was used by Ravana himself while praying to Lord Shiva. Also, the modern-day violin is considered as this instrument’s successor. 

2 . Alphorn

Source: wikipedia

Next up on our list of the lesser-known musical instruments is Alphorn. Dating back to the sixteenth century, this ancient instrument is believed to have been born in Switzerland. It is a wind instrument that was earlier used by shepherds to gather their cows and sheep from grazing lands. Moreover, this musical instrument could be heard in Central Switzerland during the evening prayer time. The alphorn is also referred to as an Alpine horn that comprises a long wooden horn of the conical core and a cup-shaped wooden mouthpiece. Other than Switzerland, the mountain dwellers of countries like France, Austria, Germany also use Alphorn in their day-to-day lives.

3 . Pepa

Source: asia inch

Native to Assam, a northeastern state in India, Pepa is another amazing wind instrument. It is usually played during the traditional Bihu festival of the state. A unique hornpipe in itself, Pepa was earlier made from the horn of buffaloes. But today, it is created using cane, wood, or bamboo. Pepa is also referred to as Singra, Pepati, Zuri, and Pempa in many areas. In ancient times, only the Deori priests used to blow this instrument. A popular legend tells that Pepa was invented by a buffalo herder, who once found a dead buffalo on his way and noticed a soft sound coming from the animal’s horn. 

4 . Oud

Hailing from the classical world of the Mesopotamian era, Oud is one of the oldest musical instruments known to humankind. It was popular in the ancient regions of the Middle East, Central Asia, North Africa, The Caucasus, Egypt, and other Balkanic countries. It is a string instrument that is believed to be the ancestor of modern day stringed instruments like mandolin and guitar. Oud is usually comprised of eleven strings that are grouped in six courses. It has a pear-shaped body with a short-neck to hold. The oldest Oud is preserved at the Museum of Musical Instruments in Brussels.

5 . Cello Horn

Cello Horn, presumptuously the most unknown musical instrument on the list, is exactly what its name suggests. It is a hybrid of cello and horn, the two comparatively popular instruments that can be easily spotted in the day to day life. Cello Horn has the exact same wooden body as that of a Cello with an attached brass horn below. Thus resulting in a very distinct sound of both brass as well as strings. In 1936, it even made a well-recognized science monthly magazine for being a great invention. 

6 . Glockenspiel

Glockenspiel is a native instrument of Germany, wherein the word ‘Glocken’ means Bells, and ‘Spiel’ stands for Set. It is comprised of tuned steel tubes and bars that highly resemble a xylophone, and are arranged just like a piano. However, Glockenspiel has a higher pitch and a smaller size. It is a percussion instrument that is played using two metal or rubber beaters. Also, glockenspiel has an amazing soft effect sounding just like bells. In other countries like Italy and France, this musical instrument is often referred to as Campanelli and Carillon respectively. Whereas in military bands it is called a Bell Iyre. Glockenspiel even looks like one of the top 10 primeval musical instruments you didn’t know about. 

7 . Chenda

Source: Indian women blog

Another amazing yet not-so-known musical instrument belonging to the South Indian state of Kerala is Chenda. In Malayalam, it is often referred to as ‘Chanda’. This cylinder shaped percussion instrument has a very rigid and loud sound. Important art forms like Koodiyattam, Kathakali, and Theyyam are performed on the Chenda beats. Even though it is a less popular musical instrument, Chenda is an integral part of Kerala’s cultural heritage. One can easily spot it while traveling in the state, often at special events. In other states like Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, it is known as Chende.

8 . The Great Stalacpipe Organ

The Great Stalacpipe Organ is an enormous instrument that is kept away from the world in an underground Virginian cave located in the US. It was in the year 1956 when Leland W. Sprinkle thought out and designed this distinct musical instrument. Ancient stalactites along with rubber mallets are tapped onto the giant organ to produce amazing sounds. The great stalacpipe organ looks like a classic organ, with a low and vibrating hum that could be heard from a cave. This musical instrument is operated using a custom console.

9 . Thavil

Source: amazon.in

A drum or barrel-shaped percussion instrument, Thavil is yet another example of an astonishing musical instrument that needs more recognition throughout the world! It hails from Thanjavur, a place in Tamil Nadu which is an important South Indian state. The instrument got its name ‘Thanjavur Thavil’ from this place itself. It plays an immense role in numerous traditional ceremonies and festivals in South India. Also, Thavil is utilized in folk, the temple as well as Carnatic music. It is often accompanied by Nadaswaram to create a one of its kind musical ambiance. While most people play it with bare hands, others use thumb caps and sticks.

10 . Octobass

Source: classic fm

In 1850, Jean Baptiste Vuillaume in Paris designed and created an incredible musical instrument known as Octobass. It is a 3.48-meter-tall massive double bass that produces a very distinct sound. Octobass is a rare string instrument. It has three main strings and is very big to be played with hands. Often referred to as a large double bass, Octobass comes with elaborate foot pedals to make it easier to be played. In his treatise on orchestration, Berlioz made a solid mention of this musical instrument. 

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