View Full Version : The Most Irritating Instrument Ever

John Flynn
Nov-23-2004, 12:43am
OK, we joke a lot on this site about irritating instruments and sometimes it's true and sometimes it's just in fun. But tonight I really heard the most irritating musical instrument ever. My group played at an old-time open mike night at a bar. Our set went pretty well.

Then after us, a group came on that included a musical saw player. I tried to keep an open mind. I tried to like it. But it sounded like one of those electronic "therimins" they used to make horror movie soundtracks. I think I will have nightmares about it tonight. After about three tunes, I was down to my last nerve and just had to get out of there. I have never been so adversely affected by any music before. Convicted killers should have to listen to saw music, but it would be "cruel and unusual punishment." Has anyone else encountered this?

Nov-23-2004, 1:59am
Funny. I saw the title of this thread, and thought "the musical saw.."

Scott Tichenor
Nov-23-2004, 6:52am
Been there. Done that.

http://www.mandolincafe.net/cgi-bin....t=19399 (http://www.mandolincafe.net/cgi-bin/ikonboard.cgi?act=ST&f=12&t=19399)


Nov-23-2004, 9:54am
How about Lloyd Loar's personal musical saw? Is this an S-5?


BTW, this really is a picture of Loar's saw.

Nov-23-2004, 9:59am
C'mon now... - this WAS a valid question! - waddan't it!http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/rock.gif - Ya' know some of these CAFE folks are real serious-minded individuals.. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/laugh.gif

Nov-23-2004, 10:02am
Hey, I always wanted a Theremin... I want to try "LOnesome Moonlight Waltz" on that instrument.

Nov-23-2004, 10:10am
Hey, I play saw! I didn't really have a choice; it's required by the score for George Crumb's Ancient Voices of Children. In any event, saw players are people and need some lovin' too...and some of us even play mandolin.

John Craton
Nov-23-2004, 10:35am
Unbeknownst to many, the saw is in fact a very ancient instrument dating at least to the first century B.C. While Nero had his fiddle, apparently Gaius Julius Caesar had the saw as his famous quote would asseverate: "I came, I sawed, I conquered."

Nov-23-2004, 10:40am
Now!! - see what you'se guys started!...### - I told ya' http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/laugh.gif

Nov-23-2004, 12:41pm
Sawk it to me, baby. BAYYY-BEEE!

John Flynn
Nov-23-2004, 12:59pm
It occurs to me that the musical saw is the only instrument that is always both "flat" and "sharp" at the same time.

Tom C
Nov-23-2004, 1:04pm
Kazoo is also extremely annoying.

Nov-23-2004, 3:11pm
I once took gigs from time to time with a band that had a saw player.

Fortunately, he would only play "breaks" (vs. playing the saw the whole time, which I've also heard)....unmelodious to say the least.

Nov-23-2004, 3:38pm
What some of us will do.... for a few bucks!## (or maybe...a chance to "pick") http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mandosmiley.gif http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mad.gif http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/laugh.gif

Nov-24-2004, 10:16am
Once I worked with a saw player, but he just couldn't cut it.

Nov-24-2004, 10:24am
Well..., this thread certainly has taken on a "life" of its' own - hee... hee... http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mandosmiley.gif http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/laugh.gif

Nov-24-2004, 10:32am
What you need is a saw player in every band that has a b@n&o. That way the guy with the saw could cut the neck off the b@n&o, and the b@n&o player would be forced to try to constantly tune the saw, keeping it out of commission. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif

Dec-01-2004, 3:54am
A racing beltsander, super modified class, http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/tounge.gif

Bruce Evans
Dec-17-2004, 1:27pm
My nomination for the most annoying instrument:

A soprano who has been told by friends and relatives that she has -

"a beautiful voice."

John Flynn
Dec-17-2004, 2:12pm
A soprano who has been told by friends and relatives that she has - "a beautiful voice."
A running joke among vocalists is that every soprano's motto is, "It's better to be sharp than to be off key!"

Dec-17-2004, 4:53pm
Clara Rockmore Method for theremin (http://www.electrotheremin.com/claramethod.html)

Clara Rockmore (http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=41:49072~T1) All Music Guide bio

Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey (http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19951215/REVIEWS/512150305/1023) documentary, review by Roger Ebert

Austin City Chronicle article on "The Musical Saw" (http://www.austinchronicle.com/issues/vol17/issue45/music.saw.html).

OK, we joke a lot on this site about irritating instruments and sometimes it's true and sometimes it's just in fun. But tonight I really heard the most irritating musical instrument ever.

And sometimes, after hearing some "pickers", I can honestly attibute that title to the mandolin. It's the player, not the instrument, "bub".


Dec-17-2004, 8:20pm
I just bought a CD of Mountain Dulcimer music that had John Hartford playing fiddle on some tracks. The dulcimer player (whose name escapes me at the moment) played saw on one track. While I wouldn't want a steady diet of it, I rather enjoyed the track.

Clyde Clevenger
Dec-17-2004, 8:36pm
My vote goes to the banjolin as the most annoying instrument. I know it's the player on all those other insturments, but there isn't a way to make this beast paletable. I'm a fair to middlin' player on several instruments, folks seem to like to jam with me when I play guitar, mandolin or even banjo in a pinch, but I get very lonely very quickly when I get out the banjolin. Then I can go to bed, that's why I keep it.

John Flynn
Dec-17-2004, 9:27pm
there isn't a way to make this beast paletable
Mandoholic: I mostly agree with you, but you should check out Curtis Buckhannon playing a Gibson banjolin on the "Echoes of the Ozarks" track on the Ill-Mo Boys' CD "Laugh and Grow Fat." It is the best use of that instrument I've ever heard. He doubles the fiddle on melody with his left hand, but his right hand picking creates a percussion element in the tune, giving it a unique character that it probably could not have achieved any other way.

Dec-18-2004, 8:32am
Dave Grisman plays banjolin on a couple of cuts on the "Shady Grove" CD with Jerry Garcia. Perhaps it is the songs, the jug-band classic "Stealin'" and "Hesitation Blues" or maybe it is the player, but it sounds great. I also heard one played recently at a vaudeville revival show that sounded good. (Then too, I am a banjo player as well, so what does that tell you? #http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/tounge.gif )

Dec-18-2004, 6:59pm
It's unfortunate how some feel they know the crucial information about an instrument that no-one else does, and therefore carry themselves differently. Lighten up Francis.

Dec-18-2004, 7:40pm
The only guy I knwo who plays one is a fiddler. He makes it work by playing it 1) pretty doggone well and 2) sparingly.

Dec-20-2004, 6:28am
Would anybody vote for bagpipes, especially up close and personal?
My next-door neighbor plays them and the other day I heard him playing a very long sustain only to realize the sound was actually a gas-powered leaf blower.

Dec-20-2004, 9:32am
Now THAT'S hilarious!!! (no flames pls.., I think bagpipes are ok..., in their place!). http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/laugh.gif http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/tounge.gif

John Flynn
Dec-20-2004, 12:46pm

That Flame Throwing Pipe Organ is a hoot! I am surprise KISS or some similar group didn't use something like that!

Dec-20-2004, 8:03pm
Kidding aside, my neighbor is very skilled on the pipes and it is a pleasure to hear him play in the early evenings when he practices outdoors, weather permitting. He always ends his sessions with "Amazing Grace." No kidding, for a little while, I DID think his leaf blower was just a long note being played on the bagpipes.

Thanks Jacob for the flaming pipe organ link. It is hilarious.

Dec-22-2004, 2:23pm
Bagpipes get all the good jokes for some reason, much better than banjos or accordion jokes which tend to be a little mindless.
Two Examples:

Why do pipers walk when they play?
To get away from the noise.

"At least they don't smell" - Oscar Wilde

Dec-22-2004, 7:48pm
Pretty hard to walkabout with your Ullian pipes, the Highland 'battle' pipes, are only one of many....
there was a time when a recent city PD hire pulled me over , on my push-bike after a tavern Jam, and wanted to know what i was doing on the bike at 02:30, got to do the test, and asked him whether he perhaps played a musical instrument,and yes, I play the bagpipes, was his response.

At least highland pipers cannot sing at the same time.
Singing Morris dancers? with bagpipes!
http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/tounge.gif http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/tounge.gif

Dec-23-2004, 10:16am
Real nice guy! - Heard him on the Opry many times.... : played the Jew's harp.. - was he Jewish??!! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/laugh.gif http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/tounge.gif

jim simpson
Dec-23-2004, 1:56pm
We now call them jaw harps. I think he must be jawish!

Dec-23-2004, 2:34pm
Thanks for the info. - I certainly want to be politically - and musically - correct! - Every time I heard him..., he did seem more Jawish than Jewish. Did ja' ever hear a J(a)w-harp in a Bluegrass band!? - Neither did I - now I wonder how that would "go over"...mmmmm... naaaa... I don't think so! Oh well...,Happy Holidays. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/laugh.gif http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/tounge.gif

jim simpson
Dec-23-2004, 10:54pm
I learned to play one as a little boy and I now realize why so many people in the Ohio Valley were missing teeth! I have pulled out one and played a few notes between songs to amuse fellow bandmates but they do kind of get lost in the band context.
Have a Ramahanaquansmas and a happy new year!!!

John Rosett
Dec-25-2004, 11:38pm
musical saw isn't too bad, until you find somebody playing an electric one.

Dec-27-2004, 5:50pm
Playing the electric saw, theres a Skil. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/tounge.gif

Dec-28-2004, 11:36am
Playing the electric saw, theres a Skil. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/tounge.gif
Yeah, you have to be a real Craftsman. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/laugh.gif

Dec-28-2004, 11:54am
Anybody ever hear a crummhorn? #A nasty yet marvelous family of Medieval and Renaissance wooden, curled reed instruments. #The sound was once described to me as the buzzing of ugly, overzealous bees.
Here is a link to a wav of what it sounds like!
Crummhorn (http://www.earlymusic.i12.com/general/prod_4.htm)
They look like an umbrella handle.

Dec-28-2004, 12:32pm
Hmmm. Irritating? Several times I have been denied participation in a jam because I have showed up with an accordion (it's o.k., I sing harmony too). However, upon conditional acceptance ("well, uh, sure, um, can you sit way over there?..."), I've found that playing QUIETLY wins acceptance faster than anything else. And unfortunately, playing quietly took quite awhile to figure out how to do (bless my friends for hanging in there). My observation is that most of these unhappy instruments have difficult-to-control volume...

Clyde Clevenger
Dec-28-2004, 12:53pm
Tallgirl, I think you have hit nail loudly on the head. Volume is the villain here. A lot of banjo players fit into the "Most Irritating" catagory. There is a sax player here in the NW who is a bluegrass inlaw. I've jammed with him a few times and he is a very good player, can play in any key and knows where the blue note are. The problem is he has no volume control, it's all sax all the time, even when he is vamping I can't even hear the banjo. I'd love to jam with him more, but I'm not going to drill out my Bush for a couple of Humbuckers. Hmmmm, I do still have a small Marshal stack out in the garage. Hmmmm,:cool:

John Flynn
Dec-28-2004, 1:08pm
Pattroglyph, re: the crumhorn

Thanks for the link. To quote that old recurring Saturday Night Live skit, "Bad Cinema": "That wasn't so good, was it? Exquisitely bad!" The crumhorn sounds sort of like a medieval kazoo. It's no wonder that it's an "extinct" instrument. Funny, it's so bad, it's actually kind of appealing, if that makes any sense. I'd love to show up to a jam with one!

jim simpson
Dec-28-2004, 8:01pm
I enjoyed hearing the crumhorn as played in Gryphon, the progressive English group from the 70's. Here is the group lineup with instruments from 1973:
- Brian Gulland / bassoon, crumhorns, recorders, keyboards, vocals
- Richard Harvey / recorders, crumhorns, vocals, keyboards, mandolin, guitar
- David Oberlé / drums, percussion, vocals
- Graeme Taylor / guitars, keyboards, recorder, vocals
Thier next album was more electronic "Red Queen To Gryphon Three".

Dec-30-2004, 1:24pm
Pennywhistle gets old real quick.

Dec-30-2004, 7:31pm
Anyone play a Hurdy-Gurdy?

John Flynn
Dec-30-2004, 7:48pm
Anyone play a Hurdy-Gurdy?
I don't play one, but I have heard them be both good and bad. Some of the amateur stuff I have heard can be really irritating, but Loreena McKinnett uses a hurdy gurdy player on her CD "Book of Secrets" that is great. That is some of the coolest instrumental work I have ever heard on any instrument.

Dec-30-2004, 10:27pm
Hurdy Gurdy (http://www.s-hamilton.k12.ia.us/antiqua/hurdy.htm)
Ok I gotta admit that's pretty "in your gutt" difficult to take Johnny! It seems to me you would have to couple this cound with other instruments "verrry carefully." Yep penny whistle is a bit one key like. Atleast the mandolin has all the choices all the time. We are freee free free to play allover the scales.. YA need another whistle to play in other keys.

John Flynn
Dec-30-2004, 10:44pm
Yep, that hurdy gurdy link you posted is pretty bad. But try the one below. All the into melody is hurdy gurdy. I think it gives that piece a unique character it could not have gotten any other way.

Jan-02-2005, 9:31pm
re: pennywhistles...
well-played whistles are great, and poorly played ones are awful. (pretty much true of any instrument, I'd say)

But as for the issue of needing a new whistle to play in a different key, I'd say the joke is on us. A new whistle, even a good one, costs less than $20... a whole SET of whistles costs less than one cheap mandolin.

As for most irritating, there's one well-meaning person in our local contra-dance pickup band who insists on bringing (and PLAYING) a triangle.

now THAT's annoying!!!

Jan-07-2005, 4:23am
What about the bowed psaltery?

It think it probably is in the same category as the hurdy-gurdy - played well it's haunting but played bad ... well I'd rather listen to the comb-and-paper.

Jan-08-2005, 3:35pm
my Givens when I had a buzz in the headstrock I couldn't locate! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/sad.gif