5 Strange Things That Became Musical Instruments

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by Kirsten Howard

Although a great amount of today's music is produced electronically or digitally, live instruments are still central to most performances. While some artists are content with a guitar or drum kit, others have a different idea of what constitutes a "musical instrument." The collection of musicians below have gone above and beyond the call of duty with their ingenuity—using anything from standard household objects to elements of nature and even their own dinner to blaze a trail of melodic inspiration.


Junji Koyama has been uploading videos where he plays music using various vegetables for nearly 10 years now, and has become a popular YouTube star as a result. He spends a lot of time searching for the right kind of produce at local markets, and after he finishes uploading each video, he happily sits down to a meal of his own musical creation.

Over the years, Koyama has used a stick of celery as a nose flute, a carrot as a slide whistle, and a radish as an ocarina. In the video above, he uses a cabbage to play a rendition of "Amazing Grace," accompanied by a pleasing synth soundtrack.


Engineering and construction fanatic Fabrício Franzoli has been tinkering with electrical music for quite a while now, and often attracts a hardcore audience of those seeking to improve their own MIDI and recording techniques. But in the video above, he proves once and for all that he ain’t afraid of no ghost when he plays the classic "Ghostbusters" theme on Tesla coils. He ignored all advice about crossing the streams, and we get to reap the benefits.


Uploaded in 2007 by Otháner Kasiyas at the Historic Center of Guadalajara, this haunting video of an old man playing a simple melody on a single green leaf in the street will leave an impression long after the music has stopped.

The man playing the leaf is said to be Carlos Garcia, a father of four daughters, who was once featured on an album called Nuevo by San Francisco-based string band Kronos Quartet. The band bought a recording of Garcia playing from a Mexican record label that didn’t own the rights to the music, so Garcia received no money for his work. According to NPR, he survives on the mere $25 to $30 worth of tips he receives from busking, plus a small government check.


Snubby J—who makes music and posts it to YouTube in his spare time—has wowed YouTube viewers with his homemade PVC pipe instrument, called the RimbaTubes, on plenty of occasions. In the video above, he performs Beethoven's "Für Elise," but his musical interests go far beyond classical compositions; among the many performances featured on his YouTube channel are his rendition of a Daft Punk cover and a Star Wars medley.


Back in 2008, aspiring musician Austin Blackburn took to the stage during auditions for Britain’s Got Talent and wowed judges Piers Morgan, Amanda Holden, and the entire audience with his saw-played version of "You Raise Me Up" by Secret Garden (and, later, Westlife).

"I'm hoping to bring a new sound to the world of music," Blackburn explained at the time, before walking on stage. "People will be amazed—hopefully. I would like to be a professional saw player, a sawist? Whatever you call people that play the saw."

Well, we’re not entirely sure what they’re called either, but we soon found out that lead judge Simon Cowell wasn’t exactly a fan of the instrument, remarking that “what we have is a saw that sounds like a cat being stamped on." Ouch.