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Composers can make pretty good inventors, too. Take a look at our list of important inventions, discoveries and pioneering ideas from musicians, scientists, instrument makers and composers. Just steer clear of Elgar's garden shed…
Trust Richard Wagner and his mammoth orchestral forces to require a whole new instrument to be invented. The Wagner Tuba was invented after Wagner visited the workshop of Adolphe Sax (who invented the Saxophone, unsurprisingly), and was used for the composer's epic Ring Cycle. As you can see, it's somewhere between a normal tuba and a French horn.
With roots in the 14th Century, the Harpsichord became one of the Renaissance and Baroque periods' most important instruments. History points to a date in 1397, when a man called Herman Poll claimed to have invented a keyboard instrument vaguely similar to how the Harpsichord ended up.
The Harpsichord enjoyed huge popularity in the Baroque period, but by 1720 an Italian by the name of Bartolomeo Cristofori thought it was time to update it. The keyboard principle was the same, but a series of hammers striking the strings rather than plucking them opened up a whole new range of possibilities for composers and performers.
While he didn't actually invent any instruments, Russian composer Alexander Borodin was an outstanding chemist, much respected in his field. In fact, he's co-credited with discovering the Aldol Reaction which is, apparently, a way of forming carbon-to-carbon bonds. His music wasn't too bad, either.
As well as being behind some of the most beloved English music of all time, Sir Edward Elgar was also a keen amateur chemist. He would happily spend hours in his shed tinkering away at little experiments, but the culmination was most certainly his invention of the Elgar Sulphuretted Hydrogen Apparatus, which was a device for synthesising hydrogen sulphide that briefly went into production.
The invention of the clarinet by Johann Christoph Denner (though it's rumoured his son was involved in the process too) was significant, as it was the first Western single-reed instrument. Thanks to popularisation by Mozart among others, the clarinet fell into regular orchestral use and has been used ever since.
Following on from the clarinet, the single-reed instruments really branched out with the saxophone. Invented by a man named Adolphe Sax (of course), the saxophone and its various different versions have gone on to become one of the most popular instruments currently in use.
An instrument played by waving your hand near it? Sounds odd, but Leon Theremin's experiments with electronic sound in the 1920s led to him inventing the Theremin. Since then, the instrument's distinctive whistle has been a favourite in sci-fi movies, Beach Boys songs and avant garde composers of the 20th Century.
Now, where would conductors be without their baton? Traditionally, orchestras were led from the lead violin or the keyboard, but at the beginning of the 19th Century things started to change. Composer and conductor Louis Spohr claimed that he was the first person to introduce a conducting baton to England in the 1820, but reports indicate that Daniel Turk conducted the Halle Orchestra with a baton in 1810. However, Turk was apparently so exuberant that he collided with a chandelier above his head.
The metronome is without doubt one of the most important musical devices ever invented. Helping keep musicians in time for centuries, it was first stumbled upon in 1694 when Etienne Loulié pioneered his Chronomètre, which was an early predecessor to the modern metronome.