Thursday, June 16, 2016

Circus World Pictures: 1: The music, or, thanks to Circus World I now know Mannfred Mann didn't write that song everybody knows him for.

School's out now, but just before it ended we got to go on a field trip to Circus World in Baraboo.  

Baraboo used to be the home of the Ringling Bros. circus, which is one reason the museum is there. When Ringling Bros. joined with Barnum & Bailey, they became the largest circus ever. It's a pretty neat place, for a museum.

The first part of the museum is a demonstration of the various musical instruments the circus performer used.

I do not remember the names of them all, but they're a weird lot, making all that semi-strange circus music that you probably can recall.  The most interesting one was the one over on the right, hard to see here, that consisted of metal bars; a performer would chalk his hands and run them up and down the bars to play them. It's called a "lyre" or a "friction harp."  You can get a feel for how it sounded with this:

Then there was this: "Deagan Organ Chimes," or shaker chimes: They're played by shaking and rattling them.

They sound like this:

This is a Deagan "Una Fon." It's a musical instrument made of door chimes.  They're hooked to a keyboard so you play it like a piano. I would embed another video but all the ones I could find on Youtube were amazingly annoying, so I didn't. Imagine playing a song with lots of doorbells. Or go to Youtube and search for "Una Fon."  Be warned: The guy at Circus World played it well. People on Youtube do not.

I was not able to figure out who the guy in this poster was:

He was, apparently, "Chas. Le Noire," a musical phenomenon. Googling that gets no results that seem to relate to him or the circus at all.

The music was pretty enjoyable, overall; the guy who plays the instruments did a medley of a bunch of Walt Disney songs, for no reason I could discern, but it was interesting to hear the songs played on all these different instruments.  (Mr F did not like the music much; it was too loud, so he and I faded back a ways. Mr Bunches and Sweetie stuck it out a little better.)

It was also at Circus World that I learned a calliope is not pronounced "Cah-lie-oh-pee." That's the muse. The musical instrument is supposed to be pronounced cally-ope. The music guy said this, and me being me and me being American I thought man he's gotta be wrong no way that's true. So I looked it up, and it's mostly true. Wikipedia says there's been some disputes about how the word should be pronounced over the centuries, but it appears to have been settled (as so many things are) by Bruce Springsteen.

The calliope crashed to the ground.  What if 10,000 years from now Bruce Springsteen is remembered solely as the guy who finally resolved the debate on how to pronounce calliope? (And could we get him to let us all just call the monster Frankenstein?)

More pics in the future if I remember to do them.

No comments: