Monday, April 29, 2013

Raggin' Jazzin' Rockin': A History of American Musical Instrument Makers by Susan VanHecke

 Raggin' Jazzin' Rockin': A History of American Musical Instrument Makers by Susan VanHecke is a great way to become acquainted with the story of some of the biggest musical instrument makers that have ever existed. The book includes the stories of Zildjian Cymbals, Steinway & Sons pianos, C.G. Conn's brass instruments, Martin guitars, Ludwig drums, Hammond organs, Fender guitars, and the very interesting company that is Moog who developed the theremin.
Not only does this book describe the development of instruments that have become fixtures in music from around the world, but it also gives the reader an understanding of the progression that took place in music as a result of these new developments. As a drummer I was very excited to read this book and very satisfied with the information that it offered. I learned that the Zildjian cymbal company were essentially the pioneers for the hundreds of different types of cymbals that are offered today. They were the inventors of the hi-hat which is a pair of cymbals placed on a stand that can open and close against each other when the player presses or releases a pedal at the bottom of the stand. The hi-hat is now a staple in every modern drum set.
In this book you also learn that the famous Fender guitar company was started after its founder Clarence Fender opened the Fender Radio Service only to begin experimenting with the then new innovation that was the electric guitar in a shed behind the radio store. It was very interesting to learn that many of the biggest and most well known instrument makers in the world seemed to come to the profession just by chance.
This is a great reader for anyone whether they are musicians or not. The history that is described in this book is very interesting. For instance the Steinway & Sons piano company was forced to cease production during World War II and began manufacturing airplanes. Another interesting fact about this period in time is that while the Steinways in American were assisting the Allies their family in Germany (also piano makers) were forced to assist the Nazis.
The historical value that the information in this book holds is not only very significant but it is also extremely fun to read about! I would recommend this book to young readers and adults a like.

1 comment:

Dan said...

I remember reading that Robert Moog, inventor of the Moog Synthesizer in the 1960s, had to be on the defensive when people first said his analog synthesizers were not "real instruments", as these short-sighted people believed that for an instrument to be considered "real" it had to be made of wood and metal by a craftsman (like pianos, violins, etc.). His answer was that each of his synthesizers WAS painstakingly hand made and was every bit a "real instrument". Today, we realize that Bob Moog's instruments, though made from electronic circuits rather than wood and strings, started a revolution in new sounds that changed the music industry. Even with the amazing sounds that digital synthesizers produce today, analog synthesizers still hold a niche among many musicians, and are used in popular recordings.