The Subcontrabass Flute is one of the largest flutes in existence with over 15 feet of piping. It plays three octaves below the average C flute. Ocassionally, it is referred to as the “gentle giant” due to its massive size and gentle sound.
The Tromba Marina (aka Marine Trumpet) is a single stringed instrument, popular in the early 18th century. Although the instrument is clearly not a trumpet, nor does it even resemble a trumpet, it is still referred to by its name because the peculiar placement of the bridge gives the string a buzz which, supposedly, resembles a trumpet. It sounds more like a Stroh Violin to be, but heck what do I know.
Composers in the past never took this instrument so seriously anyhow. To quote Marcello, the Tromba Marina is an instrument “for the composer to use if he wants to captivate the crowds”. It was a Venetian thing.
Scroll down on this page to find a recording.
For many common instruments, you can find a contra counterpart. This essentially means that the instrument you know and love has been made much, much larger.
Here is the contrabassoon. It plays an octave lower than a regular bassoon, and unlike it’s counterpart, it wraps around two and a half times, so the bell (a fancy word for the place where the sound comes out) points downwards.
It kind of sounds like your uncle’s voice when he first wakes up in the morning and falls out of bed.
The Pipa is a 4 stringed lute originating from China. Its name originates from the forward and backward movement (p’i/p’a) used to pluck the strings. Having been traced as far back as the Qin Dynasty, it is one of the oldest instruments in China.
The Pipa can be played/picked with 60 different techniques. If good technique is developed, it can be picked VERY fast.
I saw your post about the musical saw and I thought you might be interested to know that there is a whole festival dedicated to this instrument, in New York: http://www.MusicalSawFestival.org There are lots of videos on their website from previous festivals.
Also - in the movie ‘Another Earth’ (came out in 2011) there is a beautiful musical saw scene. You can see a video of this scene on the composer’s website: http://www.scottmunsonmusic.com
The Erhu is a chinese fiddle of sorts which consists of two strings. Part of the Huqin instrument family, this instrument radiates its sound from its hexagonal sound body. The bow is built in between the two strings, and cannot be removed unless strings are changed.
Having been used as early as the Tang Dynasty, the Erhu has been a definitive piece of Chinese culture for centuries. Over time, it has been used in many musical forms, such as in accompaniment for opera, as solo performance, or in a Western orchestra style.
As described in this video, the instrument’s range replicates the human voice, making it representative of sadness and human suffering. However, it can also be quite melodic.