Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Musical Instrument Facts

Brass horn

The oldest brass instruments can be dated back to 500 BC, and have been found preserved in bogs across Scandinavia. The instruments were called lurs, essentially a long, elegantly curved brass trumpet and had been recovered in batches of two.

Lurs have been used for the crest of Lurpak butter.

The word remains in the Swedish language as something that broadcasts sound, hÖrlurar meaning headphones, along with a mobile phone frequently called a lur.

Stone horn

The precise use of an ancient bronze lur remains a mystery, however, according to the Icelandic sagas the lurs’ later wooden relatives (lurar) had been used for the gathering of troops and scare away the enemy. The Saxons did not require an instrument, they simply used a sizable stone.

The Blowing Stone, at Kingston Lisle, is a large sarsen boulder with a number of holes in it. Blowing into the correct hole creates a loud, penetrating note. Alfred the Great had used said stone to gather his troops prior to the battle of Ashdown.

Universal organ

Rewind to 2004 when astronomers at the University of Virginia measured background radiation from 400,000 years preceding the Big Bang and described the ‘music’ the universe made while it was being created.

For the first 400,000 years it sounds like a scream declining to a dull roar,” explained Professor Mark Whittle. “And over the first million years the music of the cosmos changed from a bright major chord to a sombre minor one.

Singing sand

Sand dunes can actually play a ‘tune’, or rather a loud, resonate note that can last for 15 minutes and heard from approximately 6 miles away.
Studies that have been conducted in the Sahara presented that the booms are caused by avalanches on the dunes, often occurring after rain, when the lower layers of a dune are still moist (sometime clumpy) and the top layers are dry. The falling sand makes vibrations in the same manner as the membrane of a loudspeaker.


An abbreviation of the correct name ‘violoncello’ – literal translation of ‘little big viola.
Cello would have been written with an apostrophe preceding it in the past.

Hard cases

Chicago gangsters wouldn’t have been partial to carrying around machine guns in violin cases. Rather they opted for a ‘hard case’ that resembled a musical instrument carrier. It would have been compartmentalised in order for it to hold various parts of the gun easily.


Salvador Dalí, in the Christmas of 1936, sent Harpo Marx a harp that had barbed-wire strings to which Harpo sent back a photo of himself bearing his bandaged fingers.

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