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National Days

TODAY’S NATIONAL DAY, 7/31/20 – UNCOMMON MUSICAL INSTRUMENT APPRECIATION DAY!

Pan pipesThat Indie band with the young Christopher Walken lookalike singer, Arcade Fire, uses about half of them, and the recording studio adventures of The Beatles, The Beach Boys and other rock & roll experimenters introduced more than a few, so today we wonder just what the hell is that haunting sound on

NATIONAL UNCOMMON MUSICAL INSTRUMENT APPRECIATION DAY!

Move over, dime-a-dozen guitar slingers, today is for searching for those instruments that can reproduce all the otherworldly sounds you have in your head. An oud, anyone? Perhaps a zither, balalaika, panpipes, pennywhistle, didgeridoo, dulcimer, autoharp, bouzouki or euphonium?

Is that a harpsichord on the Stones’ “She’s a Rainbow?” Sure is, and that’s a piccolo trumpet playing that unforgettable solo on the Beatles’ “Penny Lane,” and an Indian sitar on “Norwegian Wood.” That flying saucer-sounding instrument on “Good Vibrations?” A Theremin, an electronic instrument you never touch, but operate by invisible radio waves between your hand and a metal rod.

Jimmy Hendrix, noted for getting his guitar to sound like anything he wanted, once used the poor man’s kazoo, a comb and cellophane, to produce his signature vocal riff on “Crosstown Traffic.” And yes, those are tubular bells in Mike Oldfield’s imaginatively named “Tubular Bells.”

• Suggested Activities: Air sitar

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