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The World’s Largest Musical Instrument is Made of Stone

The World’s Largest Musical Instrument is Made of Stone

Here’s something that would make a great addition to Batman’s Batcave; something to add some proper acoustic ambience to all that angst and Alfred-assisted problem solving that goes on down there. It’s a “Stalacpipe Organ,” and there’s one in Luray Caverns, Virginia that spans three-and-a-half acres — it’s the largest musical instrument in the world.

It won’t exactly fit on one’s utility belt, but you’ll carry its haunting yet dulcet tones with you wherever you go.

In the above clip, Great Big Story, the YouTube team that’s showed us other amazing little corners of the globe like the world’s deadliest garden, takes us on a tour of the famous Stalacpipe Organ. It was built in 1956 by Leland W. Sprinkle, and is exactly what its name implies: an organ that’s made out of a series of stalactites. In order to achieve these incredible sounds, the stalactites are hit with rubber mallets activated via solenoids — coiled wires that develop magnetic fields when a current is run through them. The electrical pulses sent through the solenoids are activated when the organ’s keys are played.

Rubber mallet hitting the stalactite. Image: Great Big Story

The result of the cave’s acoustics and the extensive amount of space between each of the stalactites being struck is an incredibly rich set of tones with caverns of depth. On one level, the notes produced are crisp and clear, as if they were produced by a normal organ not built out of a massive cave system. On another level however, there is a gentle reverberation that accompanies each note, adding a distinctive sound. On top of that, there’s the gentle drip-drop of water that gives the music the signature aura of a cave. This is all heard clearly in the gorgeous rendition of Beethoven’s Fur Elise in the clip below.

What do you think about this Stalacpipe Organ? Have you ever heard such haunting yet beautiful music? Let us know in the comments below!

Images: Great Big Story

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