Strange Sounds from Autoharps

Theremin. Clavioline. Simeon. Doncamatic. Marxophone. These strange musical devices and many more get their day in an entertaining new history of unusual instruments. Backbeat Books’ Strange Sounds: Offbeat Instruments and Sonic Experiments in Pop explores the role of unusual instruments in creating unforgettable hit songs and recounts how world-famous musicians and producers moved beyond guitar, bass, drums, and keyboards to create great records. The exhaustively researched book unearths the stories behind those unusual sounds and the offbeat instruments that made them, and offers a look inside some of the most innovative minds in music.

Readers will gain a deeper perspective on the history of pop music—from primitive drum machines and pre-synthesizer electronic music to experiments in tape manipulation and effects—and find out how instruments like the Ondes Martenot, designed for modern classical music, are now championed by bands like Radiohead. As an invaluable bonus, the accompanying CD contains recordings of many of the instruments discussed in the book, and even includes a theme tune performed by the Strange Sounds Orchestra.

Mark Brend is a writer and musician based in London. Author of Rock and Roll Doctor and American Troubadours, he is a regular contributor to Record Collector and has written for Mojo, Uncut, and other publications.