About a year ago I was curious about how the trumpet works, how could it play the chromatic scale over many octaves with only these three valves!? So I made some research to understand how it works, and thought it would be a great instrument to own. So I bought one, and now it's one of my favorite instruments even though I can barely play it (I can only hit one octave and a half, play only in Bb, and sound awful). But I love it because it forces you to use your ears more, since for any given fingering, there are multiple notes that can be played. And since the notes are not presented in a linear way as in most instruments, it's harder to run up and down the scale without thinking (although after a while it becomes second nature like with other instruments, but it just takes longer, and different keys can be completely different).
I love to learn or at least experiment with instruments that are work differently to the instruments I have tried, and it can be very beneficial, especially when you feel like you have stopped learning and improving.
I have a keyboard, guitar (bass/classical/electric), trumpet, and recently got a flute. Now I am looking for a new "alien" instrument to fiddle with. But all the instruments I can think of fall into the same category (in terms of locating the notes not in terms of technique) as one of the above.
All woodwinds I have seen have holes and buttons like the flute, slightly different fingerings, but basically the same idea overall (almost linear) and the harmonic series is much less used compared to brass.
All the brass instruments I have heard of have valves like the trumpet, the trombone (and slide trumpet etc...) is slightly different, but I have a feeling that it's a bit less challenging since the slide adds small windows of linearity, and it's still very similar to the trumpet. The thing I like the most about brass instruments is that they require you to be very certain of the notes to play (recognize them by ear before playing them).
Keyboard instruments are all very similar, and don't require you to fine tune the pitch like fretless string instruments or many wind instruments.
The Question (start here if you don't want to read the whole wall of text)
What are some of the less known instruments that : (trying to make this as objective as possible)
- Offer a non-linear (or "unusual") geometric layout of the notes (I mentioned the trumpet as an example, as opposed to the keyboard which is very linear)
- Require the player to use their ears in order to sound correct (for example: the violin or trumpet, which somewhat rely on the ear compared to keyboards where you just have to hit a key to get a valid pitch)
I am not talking instruments that are technically difficult to play or exotic micro-tonal instruments. I'm talking about instruments that challenge you as a musician rather than a performer (it can be a classical instrument - I don't know them all). Please comment if you think the two points above are unclear or subjective.