Wednesday, September 7, 2016

30 Days of Weird Instruments, Day 1 – Len Solomon's Majestic Bellowphone

Welcome to the launch of the 30 Days of Weird Instruments blog series! We'll be celebrating I AM DRUMS's release by showcasing 30 instruments with exceptionally odd designs every weekday until mid-October.

Why celebrate a book release with weird instruments? Because Sam Morris, the protagonist of I AM DRUMS, builds a homemade drum set out of comics, encyclopedias, dictionaries, and newspapers. That sounds pretty strange until you see some of the other musical wonders people have invented.

Instruments for this blog series were chosen for the uniqueness of their design and/or manner in which they are played. Instruments perceived as weird solely from a cultural perspective were not included.


Our first day of weird instruments begins about 33 years ago with the Bellowphone, a musical monstrosity made out of salvaged materials. It includes parts from vacuums, toasters, tin cans, and more.

It was designed and built by one-man orchestra of the bizarre, Leonard “Len” Solomon. I could spend all 30 days writing about his creations alone, but for now we’ll focus on this entertaining absurdity he built in his Cambridge basement woodshop in 1983. Solomon describes it as something out of a Dr. Seuss story.

In the video below (the music starts at about 0:36), you can see a few store-bought items – my favorites are a child’s kickball, a whistle, and a kazoo – but those parts only make up 7% of the instrument. The other 93% is built entirely from scratch.

Len has been performing one-man musical comedy shows in theaters, on the street, and just about any other place you can imagine for decades.

That’s only DAY 1 – we have 29 more days to go. Tomorrow's instrument is sure to heat things up.

Purchase I AM DRUMS!


  1. Thanks for showcasing these. Ha ha. I will be here every day to see what you come up with. :D

    1. I'll be looking forward to your thoughts! Thanks for reading!