View Full Version : Your earliest musical memory: what instrument?

02-08-2006, 09:22 AM
There have been a number of threads asking about early musical memories. Others go into "formative years" topics relating to artists, groups, genres, that sort of thing.

I'm listening to a jazz station over the internet (KKJZ if you care) and there's a vibraphone on the tune playing. It made me remember that that's the sound I remember liking first. Of course, since it was the George Shearing Quintet back in the early 50's, the sound was really a unison blend of piano, electric guitar and vibes. Sound I have loved the rest of my life since then.

Question is: what instrument was playing the first music you really loved?

I will bet that guitar is going to rank highly in this answer for most of us since a vast majority of music played since the 50's has been guitar based.

So unless guitar is really all you noticed in that first music, what other instrument was involved?

02-08-2006, 09:26 AM
Earliest music I remember was the soundtrack to the B'way version of My Fair Lady -- specifically, my sister and I gliding back and forth across the living room to "I Could Have Danced All Night."

So -- no instrument.

02-08-2006, 09:27 AM
Vibraphone. "Green-eyed Lady."

02-08-2006, 09:31 AM
This is the Sugarloaf song you're referring to, right? There isn't a vibraphone in "Green-Eyed Lady." There are a Hammond B-3 organ, a Hohner D9 clavinet, a guitar, a bass and drums. But sorry, no vibes.

My first memory is of the piano in "Rhapsody In Blue."

02-08-2006, 09:38 AM
At this moment, the first song I remember loving as a little kid was "Windy" by the Association. Oh, and "Lean on Me" by Bill Withers - so piano for Bill, and the lush arrangement used for Windy...not sure about actual instrumentation...

02-08-2006, 09:55 AM
Although it was definitely not the first instrument I heard as a little kid, the first time I heard the steel drum I was interested in its peculiar tink coupled with its drum-like short duration sound. Early on, it was a calypso thing that wasn't all that appealing.

But within the past five years or so steel drum and steel pan music in a jazz setting makes me wish it had been popular enough to be heard regularly on the radio longer ago. I put up a recent thread (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=356590) mentioning something I heard that flat blew me away. Following up with some internet searches on the instrument(s) I was amazed to learn that they were invented in Trinidad about the same time that I came into the world. Fancy that. I was at least a teenager before I ever heard them and a geezer before they made me sit up and take notice.

As a gag gift a dozen or more Christmases ago, my wife gave me a cheapo steel pan that sounded like beating on a coffee can. It was a gag gift for the next few Christmases, going from one family member to another until finally somebody must have either thrown it away or given it to somebody outside the family.

But I digress...

02-08-2006, 10:38 AM
When I was very small in the early to mid-1960s, my Dad had a collection of 78 rpm records from the 1930s. He must have been hitting the garage sales when he was in college or something. So jazz was the first music genre I seriously got into. I spun one 78 after another and danced because jazz had a beat that moved me. So the answer to the OP would be your basic combo instruments: drums, bass, piano, sax, most likely. My Dad had a band and played sax. That was the first real live instrument I remember seeing played. In my turn I went for piano, drums, and guitar.

There's a photograph of my Dad playing the baritone ukelele and singing to me when I was an infant. I have no memory of this, but I remember him playing it later. The tuning of a baritone ukelele is identical with guitar tuning, except it lacks the two bass strings E and A. It only has the D G B E. By borrowing this from my Dad, I pretty much taught myself guitar before I actually got a guitar.

When I was 4 or 5, we went to the Cuyahoga County fair. I heard a band playing "Hava Nagila" and its sound had an immediate effect on me. It was my first time hearing a Middle Eastern scale. I responded by dancing to it. My Dad saw I was really into it and said to me, "You know that's a Jewish song, don't you?" I didn't know what that meant, so I must have shrugged and kept dancing. I had an instinctual response to Middle Eastern music. I grew up to become a well-regarded dumbek player. I got started on belly dance by drumming for a class; since I knew the main Arabic rhythms by name (Sa‘idi, Masmudi, Baladi, Ayyub, etc.), I could drum the right rhythm upon request. Now the belly dance classes want me to drum for them, but I prefer to dance.

02-08-2006, 10:56 AM
Johanna, neat story. I can't remember which of the jazz giants said it, nor where I heard or read it, but I want to say Dizzy or Miles had it nailed that the African roots of Blues and Gypsy and Flamenco and even Israeli music makes it clear to any who listen that there's something inherently similar to the flavors of those musics.

I do recall Miles's attraction to Spanish music and the Sketches of Spain project was acknowledgment of this same idea.

Klezmer, I have learned in recent years, is another example of the blend.

Wasn't it in Bird where Red Rodney got Charlie's combo gigs playing Jewish weddings?

These things tie together somehow.

02-08-2006, 01:34 PM
That's a tough one, because my earliest memory of falling in love with music--classical music, at least--was from attending a symphony.

Er. A whole lot of them all together at once, playing Beethoven's Fifth?

02-08-2006, 01:45 PM
That's a tough one, because my earliest memory of falling in love with music--classical music, at least--was from attending a symphony.

Er. A whole lot of them all together at once, playing Beethoven's Fifth?

Perfectly reasonable answer. In your case, though, when you noticed an instrument in a smaller setting, string quartet maybe, small band maybe, some pop tune on the radio or TV, whatever, which instrument stood out from the others?

02-08-2006, 03:23 PM
(okay, my apostrophe has gone awol again so, " = apostrophe)

That"s a difficult question. I remember a number of things early on--mostly Grandpa playing guitar. The first songs I remember hearing that stayed with me were: "Those Were The Days" "La Chucharacha" and a 78 RPM of "Quickdraw McGraw" and another called "Dancing Shoes" All at about the same time.

The first LIVE music I recall really well, was a lady down the alley from us played banjo, and one day while we were all out playing, she struck up that banjo and we gravitated like moths. I think we spent the whole afternoon listening to her play Bluegrass-folk music instrumentals and that high appalacchian sound when she sang. Man, she was old then and it must have been around 1961 or 62. I can still remember it after almost 43 years. That was a musical experience that struck me BIG TIME.

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