Playing Spoons | A Quick History
Playing Spoons| A History — There have been spoon players since before written history. Prehistoric rock drawings and pottery as early as the 4th millennium depict dancing figures with curved blades in their hands. Spoons belong to a class of instrument called concussion idiophone. This general class of instruments includes the oldest instruments known to man. Spoons themselves are prehistoric, and you can say that there have been spoon players since around the invention of the spoon.
Musical Spoons – an old tradition
Many ancient cultures included playing spoons. Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans all played spoons and a variation of the spoons called the rattle bones or the rhythm bones. Rhythm bones are usually a pair of small rib bones, such as from sheep or lamb. Placed in the hand parallel to the palm with the convex sides facing each other. The bones are placed between each finger. Use one finger as a hinge, and the moving your wrist so that the bones hit each other or “rattle”.
Rhythm bones are very similar to spoon playing and are also carved out of wood, creating different tones. Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans all played spoons and bones in their battle marches and some even speculate that human bones were used. During the crusades, when these armies were marching the clicking or the bones and spoons meant to their enemy that “the pagans were coming” and it was time to prepare for battle, or to even run and hide.
Playing spoons is in many different cultures. The Irish, French-Canadian, Turkish, Russian and Vietnamese all played spoons as a part of their traditional music heritage. In America, spoons are associated with minstrels, jug bands, and folk music.
Notable spoon players are Artis the Spoonman, Sam Spoons, Deb “Spoons” Perry, David Holt, Jim Cruise, and Tran Quang Hai. Keeping these ancient art forms is important to not only our own culture but to the world. The playing of spoons is keeping these ancient traditions alive, and forming new ones.
Do you know any spoon players?
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Want to read more? Read a great post about famous spoon-players from around the world!