There are some really interesting new musical instruments invented over the last 10 years (or so). I will post some of them here. Feel free to post something you've discovered on the topic as well.
The Swarmatron is a hand-built instrument that was introduced at NAMM in January 2010. As of February, 2014, only 59 Swarmatrons have been produced.
The Swarmatron was created to produce eight tones tuned approximately to one note, each tone slightly different in pitch to produce a complex and natural choral effect.
The current "Fine Tune" version has controls which allow more accurate tuning when connected with external CV sources. Earlier Swarmatrons can be upgraded with Fine Tune controls.
These eight oscillators can be played with a single ribbon controller (variable resistor) to move the pitch center up or down.
The span control expands the sound of a swarm of eight notes spread just a few cents apart into a wide chord of equidistant pitches spread over the entire spectrum. The player can "taffy pull" the resulting chord by using the span control and pitch ribbon in tandem.
Swarms of sine waves evoke swarms of angels congregating. Swarms of sawtooth waves evoke the swarming of bees. The sound of a host of voices, earthly or unearthly, has a unique character recognized by the ear even when they are folded together in unison.
A radically new musical instrument that reimagines the piano keyboard as a soft, continuous surface. The Seaboard’s polyphonic pitch bend, vibrato and per-note dynamic changes are all available at your fingertips, marrying the intuitiveness of a traditional instrument with the versatility of digital technology.
Price: $1999 and above
The product of a collaboration between Toshio Iwai, a leading media artist who provided the idea and design, and Yamaha, which provided its electronic musical instrument technology. Physically, TENORI-ON takes the shape of a square board, 205mm by 205mm, with a matrix of 16 vertical and 16 horizontal rows of LED buttons, or switches, (for a total of 256 in all), which, when blinking on and off, provide a visual image of the structure of the music. When these buttons are touched directly, it is possible to compose music intuitively, even without specialized knowledge of music, and enjoy playing with sounds. It is also possible to perform compositions in real time as the player is composing them.
Price: $349.99 and above for the instrument, $19.99 for the iOS-emulator
An instrument designed to provide direct and intuitive interaction with sound through objects on a multi-touch enabled screen.
Price: €6.100 and above for the instrument, $9.99 for the mobile version
The XS is composed of biophysical sensors and a custom software.
At the onset of a muscle contraction, energy is released in the form of an acoustic sound. This is to say, similarly to the chord of a violin, each muscle tissue vibrates at specific frequencies and produces a sound (mechanomyogram or MMG). Being that the frequency of muscle sounds sits between 5Hz and 45Hz the MMG is not easily audible to human ear, but it is indeed a sound wave that resonates from the body.
The MMG data is quite different from locative data you can gather with accelerometers and the like; whereas the latter reports the consequence of a movement, the former directly represents the energy impulse that causes that movement. If you add to this a high sampling rate (up to 192.000Hz if your sound card supports it) and very low latency (measured at 2.3ms) you can see why the responsiveness of the XS can be highly expressive.
So far as I understood the device has not yet appeared in a wide sale, but you can download schemes for assembly and all associated "software" for free at the project's site, because it's an open non-profit project.
Can play and record loops, change scale and key, transpose, alter tempo, program beats, create arrangements, switch and layer multiple sounds, all while the musician is performing live on stage.
It has 120 highly sensitive keys, 12 percussion keys, 2 strip controllers and an optional breath pipe. This gives possibilities for flexible keyboard layouts, fast instrument switching and expressive musical control.
Price: £459.00 and above
Not really an instrument, but still kinda. The interactive robots are programmed to perform based on actions taken by their audience as well as people who access the Z-Machines website.
I don't even want to imagine how much these things can cost.
Noisy jelly is a game where the player has to cook and shape his own musical material, based on coloured jelly. The gamer can create his own jelly with water and a few grams of agar agar powder. After added different color, the mix is then pour in the molds. 10 min later, the jelly shape can then be placed on the game board, and by touching the shape, the gamer will activate different sounds.
Here is the presentation.