The Clements Blog
Clements Comic Relief Special: Musical Spoofs
by Tim Benjamin
Friday, 18th March 2011 | 4 comments
Today is Comic Relief day – and BBC Radio 3 are broadcasting a special programme, 'Donald Macleod's Unbelievable Spoofs'. The show documents the history of the musical spoof – the assorted April Fools, wind-ups and general foolishness that have been devised over the centuries. We get to hear of such dubious characters as Pietro Gnocchi, the Bolgnese opera composer Lasagne Verdi, and Pietro Raimondi – who allegedly composed three oratorios to be performed simultaneously.
You'll also get to hear the wonderful sound of the toblerophone, a musical instrument constructed from the triangular box of a Toblerone. The sound is produced by blowing over the flap at the top and moving the chocolate up and down inside the pack, and sounds suspiciously like a swanee whistle. If you find this hard to believe, there is an entry for the toblerophone in some editions of the authoritative New Grove Dictionary of Music (possibly inserted to test the ability of the editors). You can also find, if you look in the right place, the entry for 'ear-flute':
Ear-flute. Wind instrument (a free aerophone), which is usually sideblown, worn in the ear and audible only to the wearer. It is effective only in windy weather when air passing across the mouthpiece sets up resonances in the tube. It is played mainly by solitary people in exposed locations, but it enjoyed a brief vogue in the 1960s among roller-skaters in America. The Faroese Aerfloyte, the Falkland Islands lug-whistle, the seaman's "Onan's fife" and the Tibetan shepherd's dhogbis-khit all use the same principle, though the tuning, number of holes and method of fingering vary in each. The philosophical aspects of this unique instrument, which differs from all others in that the worst player is the most considerate of others and the best the most selfish, have been ably discussed by Rvana.
The bibliography for the entry cites such learned works as:
J. J. Quatsch:
Versuch einer Anweisung die Ohrflöte zu spielen (Tooting Bec, 1752)
J. Eustache: "Mon tube et ses implications musicales", Revue d'otologie moderne, xxiii (1922), 759
N. I. Rvana: "Otiose Confessions of a Musical Swami", Philosophical Transactions of the Oriental-Occidental-Auricular Society, xlix (1953), 381
T. Y. Mpanum: The Trouble with Ear Drums (Bongo Cliffs, 1959)
D. Lama, ed.: The khiti-i-khat and its Relation to the dhogbis-khit (Lhasa, 1969)
E. Lobe: "Aerfloyte og Aermuffler", Faeraske volkeviser, vi (1972), winter, 8
If you can, have a listen on the BBC's iPlayer to this very funny programme.
haha! brilliant. I am going to try and make my friends believe these!
Anyone tried making the toblerophone? next time I have a toblerone box I am going to!
Thought you might like to add this to your list of musical fact or fiction?
A ballet written by The Pet Shop Boys is opening at Sadler's Wells in London on 26th March!
Do you believe it?
THX for sharing.
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