Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Simple names

Remember the days when a musical instrument had a single name (or at most two, like the spuriously-named, French Horn)? Yes, some of the names might be odd, like a Serpent or the Theremin, or the Aquaggaswack (yup - see the picture on the right), but they were easily remembered. (Well, maybe Aquaggaswack isn't easy to remember, or spell.)

But now we have instruments and add-ons to instruments that come with names like the Eventide h9 Harmonizer Guitar multi-effects pedal. Looking at that name I'm not even sure where to start in terms of deciding which is the most important element. Sure, 'Eventide' is obviously some kind of brand name, so - with all due respects to the makers - you could cut that out. The 'h9' is presumably some kind of class of pedal, and I guess that's kind of important. Relatively. What the 'Harmonizer' aspect is I'm not sure; I suppose it's the electronic part that makes sure everything else works together. Or not.

The 'Guitar' - well that's easy, except that most likely it's an electric guitar of some kind, so it's not quite as straightforward as the Aquaggaswack. 'Multi-effects' makes me quake. We have a young feller at church who uses a few 'effects' on his guitar. One of them sounds mostly like static. Not so pleasant when you're trying to sing over it, though I guess it has its place. Somewhere. Maybe on a rock band stage, in performance, when you can wear earplugs.

And finally 'pedal.' Well, we all know what that is: it's a word that covers a multitude of appliances, mostly worked with the foot. Three of them in some cars, two in others. One on grandma's sewing machine, two on a harmonium (and jolly hard work they are, too).

Which brings me back to my point. It's taken three paragraphs to explain a single instrument, or a single instrument's add-on. I guess we could just call it an 'h9' and be done with it, but it's not quite as interesting as a 'bikelophone' or a Didjibodhr√°n.

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