That Indie band with the 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