Sunday, January 03, 2010

Piano Tricks

When I was around 12 years old, I inherited some music from a deceased elderly woman, Mary Lamb, in the small town in Pennsylvania where my mother had grown up.  Those cleaning out her house were probably only too happy to have someone cart it off. 

Most of it was serious piano music published in the 20’s and 30’s, some of it obviously purchased abroad.  Those books were still well beyond my ability at that point and some of them still are.

However, the book that held the greatest appeal for me was a collection of imitations that made the piano sound like a variety of other instruments.  My piano could become bagpipes, an  Indian tom-tom, a Hawaiian steel guitar, a pipe organ, and many others.  I thought this was the coolest thing ever. 

But mysteriously that book disappeared.  I always suspected a relative, who also played the piano, of taking my book of imitations.

Several years ago, I rediscovered these imitations in the music collection of the Library of Congress.  With Google I was able to find a distributor who specialized in music from estates and sure enough, had a copy of the little book I had once owned.  Of course I ordered it.

As you can see, it was published by Treasure Chest Publications in New York City in 1937.  My copy is in remarkably good shape, given it is over 60 years old.  It gives a lot of extra instruction about how to successfully produce the imitation.

I can’t say I spend a lot of time perfecting the art of imitation, but I love the fact that I once again have this book.

Have you ever seen anything like this?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not exactly. How very cool! It makes me think of a pre-synthesizer!


3:26 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Anon -- You of all people would LOVE this book. You probably know how to do many of these things already, but there's probably a trick or two in there that you don't already know! Next time we meet up, remind me to bring it along.

3:43 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

I've never seen that before -- but how cool you could find a copy!

5:37 PM  
Anonymous lr said...

It would be cool if there were a piano at the shelter where you read to the kids, Barbara. I'll bet they'd love to hear you play from the Piano Tricks book. You'd open their minds to other kinds of reading, too, so when they get to school and have a chance to join the band or orchestra they'd have a point of reference.

10:23 PM  
Blogger Cyndy said...

Back in those days they had pianos instead of TVs and there were all sorts of novelty things being published for the piano and a lot of it was really clever. It's great that you were able to find a copy of that book again after all these years.

12:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love lr's idea! Do they have a piano or keyboard at the shelter, B? Many retirement homes and facilities and shelters do around here. Who knows -- maybe playing music for others could be another service you offer the world some day...??


12:14 PM  
Blogger Kellyann Brown said...

Recently, I found myself really wanting a copy of the book that my mentors in speech therapy, Bob Gottsleben and Dee Tyack wrote about language samples. I couldn't find this book anywhere in my own collection and when I went about trying to find it for sale, I found that it was out of print, but available for 80 dollars (it's large format, under 120 pages). I thought that was somewhat excessive, but Amazon has a section where you can write what you will pay for a book, should it become available for your price. I said that I had forty dollars and sure enough, three weeks later, a bookseller contacted me, saying that they had the book for sale at my price. I was really glad to receive this book... an old friend, written by old friends.

2:48 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

I've never seen anything quite like that, but it's great!

10:42 AM  

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