[Dixielandjazz] Washboards, Record-scratching, etc.(was Listening to other music)

david richoux tubaman at batnet.com
Mon Mar 29 13:00:40 PST 2004

The recent animated film "Triplets of Belleville" has a soundtrack that 
features someone playing the Bicycle - they were nominated for an Oscar 
and you might have seen the performance - very much a blend of Hot Jazz 
(a la Hot Club of France) with some avant-garde sounds. Frank Zappa was 
known to play a bicycle in his early days and I wonder if the film 
composer was giving a little tribute (the website for the film says 
Zappa was one of his influences...)

Charles, I don't know where you are located, but there has been a group 
of dedicated "amateurs" very similar to what you describe called Friday 
Night Music in the San Francisco Bay Area - they have a website at 
www.fridaynightmusic.com  (I was very active with this group in the 
early 1980s but I have not been able to participate much lately.)  
Being able to create totally new kinds of music without many of the 
"rules" that have been previously developed by musicians can be quite 
fun for the performers and audience (if they can dig it!)   Bob Murphy, 
the sax player for the Natural Gas Jazz Band was another frequent 
contributor to the FNM inventions in the early years.

I also agree with you about Jug, String and Spasm bands - the use of 
household items, tools and "toy" instruments was quite interesting and 
an important part of the development of Jazz and Blues (not to mention 
how vital it was for Novelty Music like Spike Jones, Hoosier Hot-Shots, 

Dave Richoux
On Mar 29, 2004, at 11:08 AM, Charles Suhor wrote:

> Picking up a point from an earlier thread, I think that there's a good
> comparison between record-scratching and washboard-playing. Both can 
> be a
> real part of music in their own contexts, even though neither was 
> invented
> a  musical instrument.
> Take it a step farther-- can't ANYTHING become part of a 
> improvisational
> musical performance, in the hands of an alert player? The old "spasm 
> bands"
> made noises on home-made instruments that connected with people in city
> streets. It's not too great a leap from there to today's free 
> improvisation
> groups that work with improvised sounds, not strictly in the jazz 
> genres,
> on all kinds of traditional, makeshift, and invented instruments.
> Once a month I jam with such a group that includes amateurs, 
> professionals,
> and weekenders playing electronic sound-generators, saxes, violins,
> guitars, percussion, etc. It's a new kind of fun, similar to jazz 
> because
> it's improvisation. Yet it's very different because the players don't 
> work
> from a base of songs but from "prompts" that suggest how to begin, then
> everyone listens and plays off each other, developing, contrasting, or
> whatever,  with intuition as the only guide.
> snip

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