That Honking Noise

That screeching honk you’re hearing is me playing my sister’s B♭ xaphoon, which I bought for her one sunny day on the Cours Mirabeau in Aix-en-Provence.  The craftsman taught me the word “ti bemolle” (B♭) which indicates a notation system that seems like the dark ages to me, but hey, if it works for them…

When I was in high school my mama told me to remember to buy a pasalubong for my ading whenever I travel; I think she may have been projecting her own pasalubong desires from her own much older siblings, but whatever, I’ve always been happy to get something for my sister.  The only problem is, usually the stuff I can afford to buy when it’s pasalubong time is either something I could get just as easily in the USA, or else a giant pile of crap.  So it’s always been an issue as to what to get for her.

In high school, she started playing alto sax, and before I knew it she was carrying around a flute for jazz band, so it was around that time I started buying her woodwinds that were native to the areas I was visiting.  I bought her a carved flute in Guatemala, which had a blue quetzal painted on it; there’s also a traditional chinese bamboo flute (the 笛子) which I bought in a serious music shop early in my stint at Hangzhou… I’m hoping the music shop flutes were more serious instruments than the ones sold on the streets to tourists, because if not I got totally ripped off.

And then there’s the xaphoon, which up until today I had called a bamboo clarinet.  I googled around for a fingering chart, and that’s how I discovered that it was a xaphoon.  Unfortunately, it’s not an original Maui Zaphoon carved out by a dude named Brian; by all accounts it was made in France, and the fingering design copied, either from Brian the Maui Xaphoon man or from a common source.  It has a leather ligature, a regular alto sax reed, nine finger holes down the front, and an octave hole in the back for your left thumb.

Anyway, I was playing it at her place tonight, and she told me to take it home and borrow it, so I did.  I’m getting reacquainted to the joys of woodwinds (uncontrolled goose honking, rivers of condensed saliva, etc.)   So add it to the list….

Instruments I’m actively trying to improve on:

  1. pandeiro
  2. ukulele

Instruments I’d like to buy so I can move to they “actively improving” list:

  1. repinique
  2. cavaquinho
  3. shakere

The back burner:

  1. regular-old six string guitar
  2. jazz piano
  3. vibraphone

I suppose there is more to learn about the caixa/snare drum, but it’s officially off the list.  I don’t have any ambitions on congas anymore, and all the little handheld things in the salsa and samba departments I can pick up whenever.

Vocals?  Who the hell knows anymore.

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