Monday, April 30, 2012

The Modern Xylophone (and Other Instruments)

Quick Update: Fourth ever band concert last Saturday. My strings class is still all horribly out of tune. We rocked. Oh, and X for Xylophone...

Song Stuck In My Head: "Colors of the Wind", the Pochohantas song. That, and Aretha Franklin. Don't ask.

Thanks to the recent success of Gotye's "Somebody That I Used to Know" (which I've blogged how many times now? Okay, sorry) I've been thinking a lot about the xylophone. In my head it's always been a part of my childhood. That little kid instrument that made tingling noises, had colorful keys, was delicate, and extremely easy to play. Yet sometimes, all it takes is some proper usage, and you get a song like Gotye's.

Love Gotye. Love him so much.

Not that Gotye is the first to ever feature the xylophone - also known as the Glockenspiel. I mean, have you ever heard a Frank Zappa song? Anyhow, since today is our "X" post...let's talk about all the other not as recognized instruments out there.

Harmonica. The bluesy mouth organ with 'tude and emotion. Obviously Bob Dylan's song featured some of the best harmonica moments. There's some more modern or well-known ones that have harmonica too.Black Rebel Motorcyle Club's "Complicated Situation". Or maybe Led Zeppelin's "When the Levee Breaks" (love that song). Green Day's "Minority". or Black Sabbath's "The Wizard". It's more present than we think.

Harp. Maybe a strumming harp makes you think of pretty angels. But the gentle, delicate instrument happens to be HUGE and very noticeable. Florence + the Machine, everyone's favorite loud girl, has the harp here and there. I think the best use of it is in Depeche Mode's "Halo" remix, which adds a haunting and not sweet tone to it. There's also many beautifully done harp covers out there on Youtube (how they could afford a harp, who knows. They're lucky is all I know).

Kazoo. After seeing an acoustic performance with one, I realized that kazoos aren't just the instruments that sound suspiciously like ducks. You can hear them in Eric Clapton songs (San Francisco Bay) or Rolling Stones songs (Cool, Calm, and Collected). And yes, even the aforementioned Frank Zappa has some kazoo here and there. (Hungry Freaks). Or even Weird Al Yancovich's cover of Smells Like Teen Spirit (well, okay, not cover).

There's tons of instruments out there. Bagpipes. Or recorders. Sometimes, even non-instruments can do a lot in a song. Glasses and spoons. Jingling of keys. Everything and anything.

What are some of your favorite instruments out there? The atypical instruments?

Later. Actually, no soon. Three posts in one day again - last day of A-Z after all!


  1. Love Florence + the Machine and Gotye's Somebody That I Used to Know! I was just listening to Small Town by John Cougar Mellencamp, and it's a great example of harmonica. Also, I love, love, love the bagpipes, cello, and violin. :)

    1. Good taste in music then! I honestly don't know John Cougar Mellencamp, but I'll be sure to check him out. We need more bagpipes in songs too. :)