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What's This About Monkeys Anyway?


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#1 Perry Werner

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Posted 24 November 2004 - 07:11 PM

Howdy:
Yesterday I stopped for lunch at my local pizza place here in New Jersey.
The proprietor spotted my belt buckle which is in the shape of a saxophone(my former instrument, maybe I'll play again soon) and asked me if i played.
I told him yes, but not the saxophone.
I explained that I played that in a former life and that I was now attempting to play the concertina.
He made all sorts of gestures with his hands (and face) to get me confirm that he knew what a concertina was.
Surprisingly, I think he had some sort of an idea of what the instrument was.
Then he told me that he was looking for an "act" to perform in front of his pizza place next week on the night of the big town Christmas welcome celebration.
He said he'd pay me to play.
Wow, my first offer to make money playing the concertina (or saxophone for that matter).
What an idea.
I stopped and thought about it and while contemplating my standing on the brink of fame, he said something like "Yeah, you can maybe play that thing and maybe bring a monkey with you to dance while you play", then he used his hands to indicate that maybe he all of a sudden thought that a concertina was a different instrument, as he played air hurdy gurdy.

i have been approached by other folks (mostly my neighbors) who have mentioned monkeys when I tell them that i play the concertina and all thought it would be a great idea if I had one sit on my shoulder or dance while I played.
Maybe they were actually thinking that a monkey would play better than me and i could dance and hold out a tin cup!

Anyway, the question is, why do many folks think of monkeys as going hand in hand with concertinas?
Hurdy Gurdys, yes, but I don't think I've seen too many images of monkeys with concertina players.
Can anyone shed any light on the concertina/monkey connection??

Also, now that i think about it, i'm under the impression that the pizza proprietor must have actually been thinking about an accordion,not a concertina to go with his Italian food. Too bad i have'nt mastered any musette type music but the idea of sitting on the street when it's 20 degrees and destroying myself and my Wheatstone does not sound very appealing anyway.
Then again, maybe i should investigate what the local union pay scale is!

Oh yeah. and can anyone tell me where I can get a concertina belt buckle?

Bye,
Perry Werner

Edited by Perry Werner, 24 November 2004 - 07:12 PM.


#2 Pete Dickey

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Posted 24 November 2004 - 07:38 PM

Oh yeah. and can anyone tell me where I can get a concertina belt buckle?

Not so sure about the belt buckle (perhaps Paul could track some down and sell them on this site?) but the monkey shouldn't present too much of a problem though. :rolleyes:

Pete

#3 David Barnert

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Posted 24 November 2004 - 10:38 PM

I have no doubt that the pizza guy (and all your other acquaintances) are thinking about a crank organ (I hesitate to call it a hurdy-gurdy because that word more correctly refers to a cranked string instrument) and the association (in the popular imagination, if not in fact) between organ grinders and monkeys. Kind of like concertinas and sailors.

Take it from one who plays on evening sidewalks every year the week after Thanksgiving (with the Morris Dancers in Saratoga Springs): Find a pair of gloves you can play while wearing. I started with a simple pair of work gloves that I had cut the finger tips off of. Then I discovered that the glove liners you can buy at Eastern Mountain Sports work without cutting them up. I can even play pipe and tabor wearing them.

Also, resist the temptation to take a break in the pizza place (or a nearby pub or cafe) and play indoors for a while unless you allow ample time for the reeds to reach room temperature. Cold reeds and warm moist air are a set-up for condensation and rust.

Good luck with the gig. And don't spend the take all in one place.

(Edited for typo)

Edited by David Barnert, 24 November 2004 - 10:39 PM.


#4 JimLucas

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Posted 25 November 2004 - 12:50 AM

...can anyone tell me where I can get a concertina belt buckle?

??? I didn't know concertinas wore belts. :P

By the way, you're post leaves me unsure as to whether you accepted the gig. It does sound like your potential employer has ideas more grandiose than reality. E.g., how easy is it to get a monkey -- one that would be comfortable working with a relative stranger, -- and how would the local Society for Prevnetion of Cruelty to Animals react to your having one outdoors in winter weather? :unsure:

#5 Bruce McCaskey

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Posted 25 November 2004 - 01:17 AM

It'd be interesting to see others weigh in on the monkey connection. It's all too common that people here in the Seattle area pop up with the clever notion that I should get a monkey to go with my concertina as soon as I mention that I play one. They usually seem to feel quite bright for having come up with the notion, apparently thinking they're the first to ever suggest it.

I hate to say this, but I think it's pretty clear that those that suggest a monkey don't consider the concertina to be a "serious instrument." I forgive them because I figure they likely don't have a clear mental image of what one is and almost certainly have never heard one played.

If I have my instrument handy and end up playing for them, I make a point to avoid my normal Irish jigs and reels and present either a nice slow air or a 60's or 70's 'pop' era slow tune to firmly plant something other than a novelty image in their minds. I figure the last thing I should do is play a bouncy jig, it'd likely convince them they were right.

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#6 Henk van Aalten

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Posted 25 November 2004 - 02:09 AM

I figure the last thing I should do is play a bouncy jig, it'd likely convince them they were right.

So you are making a direct connection between monkeys and playing jigs :unsure: :ph34r: :ph34r: ??

#7 JimLucas

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Posted 25 November 2004 - 02:15 AM

I hate to say this, but I think it's pretty clear that those that suggest a monkey don't consider the concertina to be a "serious instrument." ... I figure the last thing I should do is play a bouncy jig, it'd likely convince them they were right.

Eh? A well-played jig is probably as distant from what they expect as a piece of Bach, so I suspect that it would combat any misconceptions, rather than confirm them. And I think the "serious music" prejudice is separate from "The Monkey Connection". (As in the Hartleypool monkey? Bad pun. Yes. B) ) I doubt that they expect monkeys with folk music in general. ("Hey, Doc Watson, where's your monkey?" "Fiddler, can you play 'Monkey in the Straw'?" Nah, I don't think so.)

As for reality, the only time I've ever seen a monkey together with a concertina was when I visited a friend who had a pet monkey. :) I doubt that those who imagine the connection have ever seen any musician performing with a monkey. (I remember a busker with a monkey in New York, but the monkey itself was the attraction. Neither man nor monkey had a musical instrument.) The association seems to come from people who don't mentally distinguish different portable, unfamiliar instruments. But for what it's worth, I have never encountered anyone suggesting that monkeys were associated with concertinas. (Jokes about snakes or rats when I play tin whistle is another story.)

#8 Henk van Aalten

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Posted 25 November 2004 - 02:18 AM

-- and how would the local Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals react to your having one outdoors in winter weather? :unsure:

How about a Society for Preventing Mental Cruelty to Concertina Players to act against those that associate our lovely instrument with monkeys <_<

#9 JimLucas

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Posted 25 November 2004 - 04:54 AM

How about a Society for Preventing Mental Cruelty to Concertina Players to act against those that associate our lovely instrument with monkeys <_<

Isn't the association just as cruel to monkeys? :unsure:
How about an Anti-Association Association? :P
Oops! Sounds self-destructive. :o
Might also have to be against the ICA. :(
Better make that the Anti-Absurd-Association Association. ;)

#10 stuart estell

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Posted 25 November 2004 - 05:15 AM

Better make that the Anti-Absurd-Association Association. ;)

Reminds me of a lyric from the last Half Man Half Biscuit album, in the song "Breaking News", about people who organise "awareness weeks for awareness weeks" deserving to be arrested :D

#11 Robin Madge

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Posted 25 November 2004 - 07:13 AM

I remember that at one Kilve weekend Dennis (surname forgotten my memory is useless at times) rought along his self built barrel organ with built in mechanical toy monkey which played cymbals in time with the music.

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#12 Perry Werner

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Posted 25 November 2004 - 10:56 AM

No I have not yet accepted the gig but it has kind of given me thoughts of going back to playing on the streets which I did on Fifth Avenue in Manahattan in the 70's when I was playing the saxophone.

The idea was for me to get paid to practice which is pretty much what happened.
Aside from playing real music, people would toss coins in my open saxophone case while I played scales and other warm-up excercises. Occasionally a drunk wino would attempt to join me and sing along as I played music which previously had no lyrics. Also I had interesting comments from passersby such as "Wow I've never seen a brass oboe" as I played my soprano sax.
At the time I never heard the term "Busker" which I suppose is what I was.

I think these days there is some sort of a requirement to have a license to play on the streets. I'm guessing that if I brought a monkey along getting that license would be much more difficult.

#13 Peter Brook

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Posted 25 November 2004 - 10:57 AM

I've only heard of the monkey being associated with barrel/crank/street organ. My dad's actually got one (a street organ - not a monkey) and he has a toy monkey that sits on top. They are very loud and even more strident in tone than concertinas. You certainly wouldn't want to play one inside a cafe or pizza place.

As for the seriousness or otherwise of concertinas, it does say in one of Thomas Hardy's books referring to the Melstock Quire that they we replaced in the church by a sober chap who played hymn tunes on a barrel organ after the band played a jig by mistake ("The devil amoung the tailors" I think it was). ;)

#14 JimLucas

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Posted 25 November 2004 - 11:13 AM

I think these days there is some sort of a requirement to have a license to play on the streets. I'm guessing that if I brought a monkey along getting that license would be much more difficult.

Unless the monkey is one of the local politicos. B)

...playing on the streets which I did on Fifth Avenue in Manahattan in the 70's when I was playing the saxophone.

Hmm. I wonder if I might have seen you at some point.

#15 Radioboy

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Posted 25 November 2004 - 01:23 PM

Perry,
I'll make a puppet monkey for you if you promise to only play Bach. Howie

#16 John Wild

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Posted 25 November 2004 - 06:36 PM

I remember that at one Kilve weekend Dennis (surname forgotten my memory is useless at times) rought along his self built barrel organ with built in mechanical toy monkey which played cymbals in time with the music.

Robin Madge

That was Bernard Pilgrim from Grays, Essex, U.K.

- John

#17 Perry Werner

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Posted 25 November 2004 - 11:35 PM

Howie:
How about if we do concertina / puppet monkey act and trade off on each tune.
Of course you'll have to teach me some puppetry.
Sounds like something I might be interested in monkeying around with (sorry)

By the way do you have any particular Bach piece in mind.
Also which Bach? J.S., C.P.E., J.C., P.D.Q., Burt (Bach arach).
Did any of them ever write anything for concertina......................or monkey?
How about a transcription of J.S.'s Brandenburg Concerto No.2 for 6 or 8 concertinas.
We'd have to locate a piccolo concertina to play the piccolo trumpet part called for in the orignal compostition.

Perry

Edited by Perry Werner, 25 November 2004 - 11:42 PM.


#18 JimLucas

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Posted 26 November 2004 - 01:39 AM

...which Bach? J.S., C.P.E., J.C., P.D.Q., Burt (Bach arach).

Barbara? B)




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