6 of the creepiest sounding instruments, ranked
28 October 2021, 14:16
Ahead of Halloween, we take a listen to some of the world’s most sinister sounding instruments. Goosebumps impending...
Listen to this article
Let’s kick things off with this visually-unassuming electronic musical instrument: the theremin. Controlled without physical contact (creepy strike number one), this small instrument certainly sounds otherworldly.
Often using two metal antennas, the theremin senses the position of its players’ hands as they separately control oscillators for frequency and amplitude, before sending those electric signals to loudspeaker.
Mozart’s ‘Lacrimosa’ on four theremins is hauntingly beautiful
One of the newer inventions on our list, the hydraulophone is a 12-jet instrument which is played by flowing water. All sounds pretty unsuspecting, no? Well, wait until you hear it.
The line between beautiful and terrifying is thinner in this case than the other contenders, but the hydraulophone’s subtle and ceaseless sound certainly has an otherworldly undertone to it.
James Hancock playing hydraulophone at CCRMA, Stanford University
It’s a constant drone, and one that puts us in mind of a dark, eerie setting straight from the Middle Ages.
Dark Medieval Ballad performed on Hurdy-Gurdy in YouTube clip
Imposing in sight, and thundering in sound, the mighty pipe organ can sound utterly terrifying when playing the right tune.
Take for example this spine-chilling rendition of The Exorcist theme, which fills the deserted halls of an empty church. Prepare to reawaken your fear of Mike Oldfield’s ‘Tubular Bells’...
The Exorcist Theme on church organ (Tubular Bells opening theme)
Aeolian harp sculpture
Standing at three metres tall, the ‘Singing Ringing Tree’ is one of the largest wind chimes in the world, and has a slightly discordant and intimidating sound to match its appearance.
The instrument’s range is several octaves, and when the wind picks up on the lonely northern moor it stands, it can produce a ringing, nightmarish whistle. Eerie.
The Singing, Ringing Tree
This 80-inch symphonic gong
There’s no question that an 80-inch symphonic gong and its accompanying hefty mallet deserves a place in this ranking – and at the top spot, no less.
Strike this colossal instrument every so slightly, and prepare for an echoing, intimidating sound that will send a shiver down your spine and accidentally summon something supernatural.
Man plays a mighty 80-inch symphonic gong that sounds straight out of a horror score