month of happiness: #261

261. random instruments in rock songs—toy pianos, xylophones, accordions, bagpipes, hurdy-gurdys

It’s funny to me to think what those early rock-and-rollers would have thought of a kazoo player walking in on their sessions. “Hey, Mr. Presley, how about I add some of this to that number of yours? I think ‘Blue Suede Shoes’ needs a little zip.” Silly.

But postmodern experimentalism being what it is, every so often (and with increasing frequency) their musical descendants will break out the odd ducks in their musical retinue, often esoteric instruments, all to add different textures or noises–or maybe to show off how quirky they can be–or simply in a fit of randomness (which I think is the case more often than not). And this is fun.

I think part of the appeal for me is that it’s often unexpected, or because it’s something different than the usual drums-bass-guitar setup. But since, like I said, it’s become so common, I wonder if it hasn’t begun to lose the element of surprise. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy it, but it’s not the signifier of creativity like it once was so much as it has become another tool in the toolbox. That’s what happens with culture: The odd becomes the normal, and soon we have to look for the new odd.

Novelty for novelty’s sake? That’s not happiness. That’s not even necessarily creative (although it can be). But the fact that we have so many sounds to play with in the universe, sounds we may not have even discovered yet, and that the Maker of ears and neurons and sound waves and air smiles on all our efforts to keep playing despite our own jadedness? Sure.

Toy piano:



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