Audrey Farnsworth | December 21, 2020
Is it me or does that tuba look like a villain?
Please welcome the musical instruments of the apocalypse. These guys are large and in charge, sometimes made up of several musical instruments put together to form a sort of hybrid musical instrument experience. One of these instruments is a house. One of them is a tuba named Carl. Many of them are organs. But all 11 of these bad boys are extremely large.
Table of Contents
Meet Big Carl, the world’s largest tuba. This tuba lives at a music store in New York where it has been since the year 1900. Big Carl weighs more than 100 pounds and stands about eight feet tall–which is much larger than your regular run-of-the-mill tuba which clocks in at about 42 inches tall and weighs around 35 pounds. Big Carl sounds like if five tubas were one robust tuba, belching out those low notes loud and proud.
The biggest violin on the planet earth is 14 feet tall and takes three people to play it (but it IS playable). Two violinists work the bow and one other violinist is up there at the top, pressing the strings. This big boy weighs about 290 pounds and plays a tune much lower than a regular, normal-sized violin–about three octaves lower to be exact. It was a Guinness Book of Records winner in 2012 and was made by 15 German violin makers in the town of Markneukirchen.
This musical instrument is a house. It was created by two architects and it is, again, both a house and a working musical instrument. How, you ask? Well, it’s a container of vibrations, pretty much. It contains two huge harps that are transferred through tubes to the living room, which acts as the acoustic chamber. And this causes the music to be heard throughout the house.
This humongous organ is located in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and boasts the important title of “largest pipe organ ever built”…based on the number of pipes in it, that is. Technically there could be a larger organ, per se, in size, but this guy? This guy’s got the most pipes and, apparently, that is the metric by which we measure pipe organs. The organ has seven keyboards, over 1,200 stops, and (drumroll) 33,000 pipes.
The Great Stalacpipe Organ is another one of the world’s biggest organs, and this one is actually the “world’s largest musical instrument.” See? Told you there was technically a bigger organ. This one can be found in the Luray Caverns in Virginia–that’s right, the world’s largest musical instrument is located inside of a cave, deep underground. It was created by a fella called Leland W. Sprinkle, a mathematician and scientist, at the Pentagon in 1954.
The Earth Harp reigns as the longest stringed instrument in the world. Those strings run about 1,000 feet in length and are played by musicians wearing cotton gloves with violin resin on them. They glide their little hands down those bows and sweet, huge harp music blasts right out. It is said to sound like a cello.
Despite sounding like it might be half-octopus-half-musical-instrument, the octobass is, generally, the largest string instrument for an orchestra, although only one known composition specifically requires it, Charles Gounod’s St. Cecilia Mass. At 12-feet, it’s usually played by two people, so hopefully you have a musical friend to team up with. The octobass was created in 1850 by Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume.
The biggest drum in the world award goes to a South Korean-made drum that’s over 18-feet in diameter. It won the Guinness Book of World Records title after being completed in 2011. This big ol’ drum is a “CheonGo,” a traditional Korean drum, and is over 19-feet tall.
The double contrabass and subcontrabass flutes are not your usual flutes, which are tiny and high pitched. These bad boys produce music in lower octaves and…look nothing like smaller flutes. The contrabass flute is eight-feet long has about 18-feet of tubing, while the subcontrabass is over 15-feet long. They’re shaped like a tube, except then it turns into a triangle and swerves around. They produce a noise that would create the ideal soundtrack to a robot doing laundry.