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Artis the Spoonman playing spoons (2007).

Spoons can be played as a makeshift percussion instrument, or more specifically, an idiophone related to the castanets. In U.S. culture, "playing the spoons" originated in Ireland as "playing the bones," in which the convex sides of a pair of sheep rib bones were rattled in the same way.

Contents

Techniques

  1. A pair of spoons is held with concave sides facing out and with a finger between their handles to space them apart. When the pair is struck, the spoons sharply hit each other and then spring back to their original position. The spoons are typically struck against the knee and the palm of the hand. The fingers and other body parts may also be used as striking surfaces to produce different sounds and for visual effect.
  2. Salad serving style: one spoon between little, ring, and long finger; the other spoon between ring, thumb, and index finger in such a way that they can be moved with ring finger as the common axis. They can be hit to each other at the convex sides by gathering the fingers (mostly middle and thumb).
  3. Castanets style, two in each hand one held down by the thumb, one between ring and middle finger.
  4. One spoon in the left hand, one under the watch belt, these hit with one on the right hand.

American folk music

Spoons as an instrument are associated in the United States with American folk music, minstrelsy, and jug and spasm bands. These musical genres make use of other everyday objects as instruments, such as the washboard and the jug. In addition to common tableware, musical instrument suppliers make spoons that are joined at the handle.

Russian folk music

Spoons are often used in ethnic Russian music and are known as lozhki (Russian: Ло́жки [plural]; Pronunciation: About this sound Ложка [singular]). The use of spoons for music dating at least from the XVIII century (and probably older).[1] Typically, three or more wooden spoons are used. The convex surfaces of the bowls are struck together in different ways. For example, two spoons are held by their handles in the left hand, and the third, held in the right hand, is used to hit the two spoons in the left hand. The hit, in a sliding motion, produces a typical sound.[2][3] One can also hold three spoons in the left hand and put a fourth into the bot or the pocket. A fifth spoon is then held in the right hand and used to hit the other four. Finally, one can hold the bowl of a single spoon in the left hand and hit it with another spoon. In this style, different sounds can be emitted by holding the bowl more or less tightly.

These wooden spoons are commonly used in performances of Russian folk music and sometimes even in Russian orchestras.[4] A video of a choir performing a Russian folk song with spoon and balalaika accompaniment can be found below.

Musicians

  • Bobby Hebb and Noel Crombie are well-known spoons players.
  • In 1994, Seattle Grunge band Soundgarden had a hit with the song "Spoonman" that features a spoons performance by street artist Artis the Spoonman.
  • Bob from the Cruise Ship is one of the most widely recognized and well known spooners in the Greater Buffalo Area.
  • Sylvester McCoy, a well known British actor, who most notably played the seventh incarnation of Doctor Who, is adept at playing the spoons, as evidenced during his tenure on Doctor Who as well as in his role in Ian McKellan's King Lear.

References

External links

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