Monkey stick

Monkey stick
This article is about a musical instrument -- for other uses see Mendoza (disambiguation).

The mendoza, mendozer, monkey stick or lagerphone, is a traditional English percussion instrument, widely used in folk music. The origins of the name are not known but it is believed to stem from an association with one of the many Gypsy, Spanish and Italian buskers who were popular in London in the Victorian era.

This instrument is constructed from a stout pole affixed to a heavy boot at the base. Metal "jingles", commonly beer-bottle tops, are fastened at intervals along the shaft. When played on a wooden floor (common in ale-houses) the sound produced is a combination of a bass drum and tambourine. It can also be played with an additional small notched or serrated stick held in the other hand, allowing it to not only be shaken or hammered onto the ground, but also "bowed" to produce a combined clicking and rattling sound.

The name "monkey stick" comes from a modern practice: in homage to the trained monkeys formerly used by buskers to solicit money from passers-by, a number of musicians have taken to fixing a small stuffed toy monkey to the tops of their instruments.

In Australia, this instrument constructed with beer-bottle tops is known as a lagerphone, a variation of the traditional aboriginal instrument using shells. The same name and construction is found in New Zealand.

In Newfoundland, it is referred to as an "ugly stick." In the Dutch province Friesland this type of instrument is known as a 'kuttepiel'. In the American upper-midwestern states of Minnesota and Wisconsin, the closely related stumpf fiddle or pogocello originated in Czech communities and adds small cymbals, strings, and a drum.

The variation of this instrument called the ‘Zob Stick’ was constructed and named in 1968 by percussionist and songwriter Keef Trouble of the band Brett Marvin and the Thunderbolts and Terry Dactyl and the Dinosaurs. It is now, with the term ‘Lagerphone,’ the most commonly used name for this instrument. The Brett Marvin invented term ‘Zob’ was taken from an old risqué UK naval term that has the same meaning in French. The Keef Trouble ‘Zob Stick’ is distinguished by the addition of a sprung-boot attached to the bottom of the pole and a metal sleeve round its centre, this being hit with a serrated wooden stick.

Contemporary bands, such as Groanbox and Zapoppin', have also incorporated the Monkey stick into their recordings and live shows.

External links

  • [1] The Lagerphone Pages by Keith Sayers (Canberra March 2010)

See also

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