I love music. I feel its beats in my bones. Even human voices are acapella treats – except those whose mission is spite and hate. Their sour voices sow discord.
Here’s a discussion of some of my favorite musical instruments: Piano, tuba/sousaphone, flute, and guitar.
When a piano is played, each key controls a hammer that strikes a taut-and-tuned string inside, under its elongated top. The sound resonates from strings, making it a stringed instrument like a harp or a guitar — but the action that produces the sound is a strike, putting it in the percussion category, along with other melodic instruments like the xylophone or steel drum. Thus, pianos are considered to be both a percussion and stringed instrument. Both describe how the piano works. Some consider the piano to be a form of hammered dulcimer, another hammered-string instrument that’s hard to pin down. It’s also a keyboard instrument, which are never just keyboard instruments alone — that would also include the pipe organ (wind), harpsichord (string), glockenspiel (percussion), and synthesizer (electronic).
The latter are fundamental to rock ‘n roll bands.
Pianos are large instruments, so they stand like a table on the floor. Another large instrument is a tuba, held, hug-like, in a seated player’s lap.
In a Harvard University basement, the King Tuba, possibly commissioned by John Philip Sousa, is about 7 feet tall and 100 pounds. It was restored in 2019 and occasionally makes appearances at performances. John Philip Sousa created the Sousaphone (duh) because he wrote march music and needed the bass instrument to be carried by a member of a marching band. The instrument has been popular for a century, featured high school and college football half-time entertainment. My grandpa played one, while my dad played trombone.
At the opposite end of the tonal spectrum of a band is the flute.
Flutes were among the earliest musical instruments, present in ancient cultures throughout the world. The oldest one that modern archaeologists have discovered so far is 35,000 years old, uncovered in the Hohle Fels Cave near Ulm, Germany. It was created in the middle of the last Ice Age.
Flutes have also been components of modern rock ‘n roll bands: Jethro Tull, the Moody Blue, and certain incarnations of Jefferson Starship.
Leo Fender Didn’t Play Guitar
Fender is one of the most popular guitar and amplifier brands, perhaps best known for its enduring classic the Stratocaster electric guitar. The founder’s interest and expertise, however, was solidly in creation, not performance. Before inventing the first mass-produced solid-body electric guitar, Leo Fender was a radio repairman who sometimes tinkered with his musician friends’ instruments. He left the music to Les Paul.
While he briefly played piano and saxophone as a youth, even after decades in the guitar business, he never actually learned how to play the instrument. Legend has it that he couldn’t even tune one. He was too busy tinkering with them: Country music guitarist Bill Carson (who has been dubbed the “test pilot of the Stratocaster”) told Reverb that Fender would show up to his gigs to swap out equipment.
Here’s one of the most famous Stratocaster creations: “Layla” by Derek and the Dominos, aka Eric Clapton and misc. crew: