"From Piccolo Pete to the Piano Man: Music Instruments Referenced in Sound Recordings"

By Cooper, B. Lee; Falk, Patty et al. | International Journal of Instructional Media, Summer 2001 | Go to article overview

"From Piccolo Pete to the Piano Man: Music Instruments Referenced in Sound Recordings"


Cooper, B. Lee, Falk, Patty, Schurk, William L., International Journal of Instructional Media


Twentieth century sound recordings abound with song titles and lyrical references to audio devices that provide rhythmic enrichment, melodic support, or other dramatic punctuation for popular tunes. The variety of musical instruments acknowledged is staggering. Beyond expected commentaries on keyboards ("Baby Grand" and "Piano in the Dark"), percussion instruments ("Drummer Man" and "Drums in My Heart"), strings ("April Played the Fiddle" and "The Man with the Mandolin"), woodwinds ("Concerto for Clarinet" and "Hey, Mr. Sax Man"), and brass instruments ("Bugle Call Rag" and "Cornet Pleadin' Blues"), there are also salutes to many more exotic music-making devices ("Didgeridoo," "Washboard Blues," and "When Erastus Plays His Old Kazoo").

Few artists have manifested the Faustian bargain with their instruments that characterized bluesman Robert Johnson's mythic relationship to his devilish guitar. Yet the personas of many popular performers are directly linked to their artistic weapons. Songs by B.B. King ("Lucille"), Duane Eddy ("Dance with the Guitar Man"), Preston Epps ("Bongo Rock"), Billy Joel ("Piano Man"), Gene Krupa ("Drummer Boy"), Sandy Nelson ("Drums Are My Beat"), and Stevie Wonder ("Hey Harmonica Man") express heart-felt reverence for their own instruments.

Beyond these legendary artists, fictional tales also meld music making devices to a variety of distinctive characters of sonic sensitivity. Recorded illustrations include: "The All American Boy," "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy," "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," "The Guitar Man" (Bread), "The Guitar Man" (Elvis Presley), "Johnny B. Goode," "The Little Drummer Boy," "Mr. Tambourine Man," "Nashville Cats," and "On Broadway."

As seen in the previous listings, notions of autobiographies and general storytelling revolving around musical instruments are quite common. So are situation comedies. With respect to the violin, for instance, there are numerous songs that reflect the foibles of the human condition via slang references. These include: "Fiddle Around," "Fit as a Fiddle," "I Ain't Gonna Play No Second Fiddle," and "Second Fiddle." Other humorous approaches to instruments are illustrated in the revival of classic tunes such as "Dueling Banjos" by a slapstick stylist who parodied the original recording on "Dueling Tubas." Spike Jones and His City Slickers applied a similar demonic treatment to David Rose's "Holiday for Strings." More serious performers have utilized structural metaphors such as the "Ebony and Ivory" keys on a piano to denote beneficial interaction of cultural and ethnic diversity. Finally, both orchestral cohesiveness and musical styles are depicted by identifying particular roles of specific instruments. This sense of building (or cooking) a band unit is described in "Dance to the Music" and "Memphis Soul Stew."

Tunes without lyrics often gain their titles from the primary instrument utilized in their recorded renditions. Examples of this phenomenon include: "Bongo Rock," "Kitten on the Keys," "Let There Be Drums," and "The Toy Trumpet." Likewise, virtuoso performers sometimes craft tunes for themselves or receive tributes from other artists through linkage of their signature instruments, names, or musical styles. Illustrations of fame and fortune secured through specific identification with trumpets, saxophones, guitars, and pianos include: "Hank Williams' Guitar," "I Hope Gabriel Likes My Music" (Louis Armstrong), "Guitar Queen" (Bonnie Raitt), "Someone Stole Gabriel's Horn" (Bunny Berigan), "Walkin' with Mr. Lee" (Lee Allen), "Yakety Axe" (Chet Atkins), and "Yakety Sax" (Boots Randolph).

Finally, a strange array of recordings identify sounds as direct relations to specific instruments. For example, the adjective "mellow" is used as a descriptor for dozens of instruments, including "(Everytime I Hear) That Mellow Saxophone." Yet it is comic portrayal of mock instrumental virtuosity that seems to attract popular attention on many recordings. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

"From Piccolo Pete to the Piano Man: Music Instruments Referenced in Sound Recordings"
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.