I recently fell down a rabbit-hole of “unusual musical instrument” videos while doing some research on aquaphones for some indie-horror soundtrack work I’m doing. While aquaphones and theremins are the go-to instruments when thinking of “classic” horror sounds, I happened to run across the ultimate terror instrument—a home-made device that can produce a wide array of horrific soundscape elements all in one compact unit. “The Apprehension Engine,” as it is called, was created by Canadian guitar maker Tony Duggan-Smith as a “one off” for Mark Korven, who is best known for his soundtrack work on The VVitch.
The unit has a hurdy-gurdy-like mechanism, along with a spring reverb, suspended metal parts which can be used percussively or played with a bow, and a string which can be played with an Ebow. The echoey sounds coaxed from this machine are other-worldly and much more terrifyingly organic than similar tonalities which may be produced digitally through synthesis.
According to one of the comments on the video from a week ago, Duggan-Smith is considering the idea of producing more of these infernal machines. If that’s the case, I’d like to be added to the waiting list!
Fans of Harry Partch and other outsider musical instruments, take note!
Check the video below for this amazing instrument in action: