Friday, September 17, 2010

Needless to say, we did not stop in for this wrap. (The Best Underrated Instruments, Five)

You know you're kind of a loser when you don't even warrant your own group. When I began my in-depth investigation into today's instrument, the bassoon, the first thing I thought was I bet there's an International Bassoon Society; there's an international society for everything, after all.

Actually, that's not true. The first thing I thought was Bassoon is a funny word. Then I thought about that McDonald's sign that Sweetie and I saw lasts week inviting drivers to "Stop In For An Angus Wrap" only someone had removed the g from Angus, and I couldn't stop laughing about it. Still can't.

But then I thought the thing about the bassoon society, because there really is an international society for everything. I know that because I googled "list of international societies" and what I found out was that there's a Union of International Associations, which I gather is some sort of mega-association made up of groups, and it publishes a yearbook of international groups and claims that there are more than 30,000 such groups in existence now. Since it's pretty obvious that there aren't even 30,000 things in existence, period (I'm using math to make that assumption), it's clear that there's an International Organization for everything (and probably more than one for some really important things, like "cashews."

Then there's the bassoon, which is clearly far less important than a cashew because it can't even get its own society: it has to share with the oboe, as both are represented by the "International Double Reed Society." In existence since 1972, the IDRS boasts that "75% of is accessible to the public," which immediately raised the question in my mind: what is the IDRS trying to hide? Obviously, something, because they won't let people like me, ordinary people minding their ordinary business snickering about scatological modifications to fast-food restaurant signs and trying desperately to not work on a Friday, see what's behind the Iron Curtain put up by the double-reeders.

Whatever it might be -- black helicopters, a secret army of robot bassoon players to take on the Robotglockenspielers, a stockpile of cashews-- we cannot, as a society allow this to continue, and that's why I am using my position as a blogger to call on the IDRS to make their full site available to the public -- or, if they don't, I am calling on the federal government and all fifty states to use every legal and militaristic means at their disposal to force the IDRS to reveal the remainder of the hidden content.

And if that doesn't work, then I'd at least like those guys who changed the fast-food sign to keep doing stuff like that, because I enjoy the laugh on my commute home.

The bassoon, according to Wikipedia, was invented in the 1800s, a claim that at first dismayed me and made me believe that Wikipedia was even less reliable than appellate courts have found it to be , since I know for a fact that everything everywhere was invented in the 16th century -- but a click on a quick link assuaged my concerns, as I learned that the bassoon is actually a descendant of the dulcian, an instrument that was invented in the 16th century. The dulcian was a bassoon, essentially, except that the dulcian, unlike the bassoon, wore a leather jacket, making it the Fonzie of double-reed instruments.

I'm not lying, either: from Wikipedia:

The dulcian is generally made from a single piece of maple, with the bores being drilled and reamed first, and then the outside planed to shape. ...The outside of the instrument can also be covered in leather.

See? I don't make stuff up. Wikipedia may make stuff up, but once it's on that site, I'm free to treat it as a fact. Because it's in print. If it's in print, it's true.

Generalizing from that one paragraph that I bothered to read, I can conclude (using science this time) that dulcians were amazingly popular, until the leather covering was lost and they became bassoons, at which point they faded in popularity until the present time, when only 1 in 23,000,000,017 people actually knows what a bassoon is, and Rainn Wilson feels free to attack it as an instrument for no reason whatsoever other than that Rainn Wilson wants desperately to be considered quirky.

But before you join Rainn Wilson in his ad hominem attacks on underrated instruments, consider this: Can you play Bohemian Rhapsody on Rainn Wilson? Probably, but it wouldn't sound as good as this:

And then consider this: Why does every person who plays any minor instrument feel compelled to cover a Lady GaGa song on it?

Seriously. Type in the name of any weird instrument on Youtube and you're going to come up with a billion videos of people playing Lady Gaga songs on that instrument. Which means it's time for us to start The International Society For People Who Are Against Lady GaGa Covers. You can join by sending me twenty bucks, in exchange for which I'll text you a picture of that McDonald's sign.

Previous Instruments:

1. Tuba

2. Harp.

3. Triangle

4. Glockenspiel.

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