The largest musical instrument in the world is made of stone

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

It won’t fit exactly on your utility belt, but you’ll take its haunting yet smooth tones with you wherever you go.

In the clip above, Great Big Story, the YouTube team that 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 it is exactly what its name suggests: an organ made up of a series of stalactites. In order to achieve these incredible sounds, the stalactites are struck with rubber mallets activated by solenoids – coiled wires that develop magnetic fields when a current passes through them. Electrical pulses sent through the solenoids are activated when the organ keys are played.

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Rubber mallet hitting the stalactite. Image: Big Big Story

The result of the cave acoustics and the large amount of space between each of the stalactites being struck is an incredibly rich tonal set with caverns of depth. At some level, the notes produced are crisp and clear, as if produced by a normal organ not built from a massive cave system. On another level though, there’s a sweet reverb that accompanies each note, adding a distinctive sound. On top of that, there’s the soft drop of water that gives the music the characteristic aura of a cave. All of this is clearly heard in Beethoven’s magnificent rendition of Fur Elise in the clip below.

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

Images: A great story

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