The 6 Most Insanely Huge Musical Instruments

#3. Musical Highways

Ad Rants

Some of you saw the "musical highway" featured in a Honda Civic commercial, and being the cynical types that you are, probably dismissed it as some kind of ad agency bullshit.

But it is an actual stretch of highway that is specifically tuned to play you a little song when you drive over it. How? Well, you know those annoying grooves they have on some highways to alert you that an intersection is coming up? And how they make an obnoxious fart sound when you drive over them?

Atlas Obscura
It does make trips home from Chipotle slightly less accusatory.

The engineers at Honda figured that if you spaced the grooves just exactly right and made them just the right depth, you could change the tone to sound like musical notes. They had some highway engineers cut a carefully calibrated set of grooves into the pavement on a quarter-mile-long stretch of highway in Lancaster, California, the result being that the road played the William Tell Overture (also known as the Lone Ranger theme) whenever a car drove over it at 55 mph. We're assuming they asked somebody if they could do it first.

OK, so that's what the ad says, but they probably just dubbed in the song, right? There's no way they got it so perfectly timed and tuned that a set of rubber car tires could actually make it sound like anything. Well guess what, Mister Skeptic, here's a video of it actually working for some random, non-Honda-affiliated people:

Pretty cool, right? Now imagine you live near that road, with traffic driving over that shit all day, every day (and on into the night). It just got a little less cool, didn't it? Yeah, the local residents thought so, too. It made them so mad, in fact, that some residents forced the city to order Honda's little project paved over within a month of its completion.

But because the nice folks of Lancaster realized that, best case scenario, they were going to look like a bunch of crotchety old pricks who just wanted to spoil everyone's fun, they had the entire $35,000 project put back on an adjacent, less trafficked road, and it's still there to help attract your "gullible tourist" money today.
Just four short miles from the largest ball of twine west of the Louisiana Purchase!

And it turns out that, though this was the first musical road in America, it wasn't exactly an original idea, because musical stretches of highway have been popping up in a number of places around the world -- such as the Anyang Singing Highway in Korea (playing "Mary Had a Little Lamb") and another road in Japan that plays a traditional Japanese tune and not, thankfully, a medley of J-pop tunes.

#2. Archifon I (aka The Playable Laser Cathedral)


With all the Tom Cruises and atheists and vegans running amok, it's becoming increasingly difficult for a respectable, traditional church to keep its doors open in the 21st century. So to attract a new audience to the Olomouc Baroque chapel in the Czech Republic, they came up with a whole new Christian denomination based entirely on the teachings from the little known Book of Wii. Macula, a Prague-based projection mapping collective, outfitted the interior of the building with sound triggers, transforming it into an "interactive virtual musical instrument." And the best part? It's played with freaking lasers. Well, laser pointers, anyway.

The entire interior surface of the chapel has been tricked out with 3-D mapping technology to create triggers that initiate more than 100 different audiovisual reactions when the dot from a laser pointer hits them: The angel statues sing, the elements of the paintings represent distinct musical motifs, the pillars serve as effects sliders and the pulpit summons the spirit of Skrillex (probably).

Design Collector
"I summon thee, oh demon of screechy but oddly catchy electronica!"

Up to 10 visitors at a time can interact with the church, which is exactly 10 more people than have ever managed to use a laser pointer in church for anything other than making their fellow parishioners pray for their eternal damnation.

#1. The Zadar Sea Organ

Andrej Šalov

It looks like a boring set of concrete stairs along a shoreline, but where you have movement and energy, you can create sound. And what you're looking at is, in fact, a big-ass sea organ.
Which, coincidentally, is also the name of Poseidon's penis.

In 2005, a Croatian architect took approximately 230 feet of shoreline and installed a set of large marble stairs that descends into the sea, underneath which are a series of pipes and a resonating chamber that effectively transform the entire area into a colossal musical instrument played by the peaceful motions of the winds and the sea. The water flows into the pipes, and in turn pushes air out of a series of slots in the top stair.

The resulting sound is sort of a cross between what you'd hear when you put a conch shell next to your ear and the trippy opening of a '70s rock song:

It's not just random noise, either. You probably noticed that the organ plays "two musically cognate chords of the diatonic major scale" at very consistent intervals (what, you didn't notice that?). And since the waves don't make drastic changes in tempo all at once, the result is a soothingly haunting sound that could calm even the angriest of Cthulhus. Though we can't help but wonder what the thing would sound like in a hurricane.

Yacht Charter Croatia
Our bet is on "Eruption."

For some badass musicians, you can check out Gabriel's friends' band The Ranks, or follow him on Twitter. Jeff Sloan invites everyone to drop him a line on Facebook.

For more unbelievably huge things on this planet, check out The 7 Most Terrifyingly Huge Things in the History of Nature and The 6 Most Gigantic Everything in the History of War.

If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out The Most Annoying Part of Working on the Death Star.

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