Thoughts On The Dead

Musings on the Most Ridiculous Band I Can't Stop Listening To

A Ranking Of Percussion Instruments By Their Utility As Improvised Weapons In A Kung Fu Fight (Or Karate)

  1. Clash cymbals Specifically clash cymbals, also called concert cymbals, and here’s why: the straps. Regular cymbals get affixed to stands with a nut and bolt, so there’s just a little hole in the middle; no handhold. Clash cymbals are the ones marching bands use, one big cymbal in each hand, and they have straps so they don’t go flying off. There are so many possibilities for violence with a clash cymbal: winging it at someone like Captain America’s shield, slicing faces up, hitting them against each other with your enemy’s head in the middle like in the cartoons, the list goes on. Perfect weapon.
  2. Daxophone Yeah, I didn’t know what it was, either, but look at the thing: daxophone That’s what a Klingon moil uses to circumcise babies. Wikipedia says it’s an instrument, though, so I’m counting it.
  3. Drumstick The humble drumstick, bought by the dozen and just as quickly discarded, is a surprisingly effective and multifaceted melee weapon: you can keep an attacker at greater-than-arm’s-length, you can poke an eye out, you can stick it right up a butt. Plus, there are those leverage-holds that cops use their batons to do, and you can harness the deadly power of splinters. Solid weapon.
  4. Tambourine Upside: those little cymbals are sharp as fuck. Downside: they would hear you coming.
  5. Conga, Djembe, etc. Getting dicey by now: a conga or its equivalent–a big empty cylindrical piece of wood with the skin of an animal covering one of the holes–has some heft to it; you could use it as a bludgeon, I suppose, but you might as well pick up the drum stool. Also, there’s nowhere to grasp it properly so you can swing it around. Only in emergencies.
  6. Xylophone, marimba, vibraphone, etc. I suppose you could push one of these desk-size instruments towards your opponent and pin him against a wall or something. Might as well go get your car and run over him.
  7. Doug E. Fresh, the Human Beat-Box Please do not use Doug E-Fresh, the Human Beat-Box, as an improvised weapon in a kung fu fight (or karate).
  8. Triangle Virtually useless as a weapon. Perhaps you could hold it by a side, and then you’d be punching people with a 60-degree angle, but it’s inadvisable. If you winged it real hard at someone’s head, it would hurt; you could maybe break a nose or knock out a tooth.
  9. Whistle Completely useless as a weapon. Too light to throw, too small to hit someone with, no sharp edges. If you tried to grasp it in your fist to hit someone, with the mouthpiece sticking out between your fingers like you would a key, then you’d certainly fuck your hand up more than your intended victim’s face. Bad weapon.


  1. Saw Hans Reichel play the Daxophone at a festival in Rennes. He was quite a creative fellow who had a different vision of what a violin could become when made out of wood with contact microphones. He probably should have been playing tarot with TC, but he did get to jam with Fred Frith.

    I am surprised you didn’t go to the Harry Partch collection-maybe you don’t know about him. If you have the time & inclination this is fascinating overview of his instruments with Partch playing them. Who makes an instrument named the Spoils of War? Harry Partch did. Why doesn’t Mickey have a Diamond Marimba or a Quadrangularis Reversum already? TC should have had the 72 note scale Chromelodeon-he might have actually known Harry Partch & Lou Harrison. Harry was a Bay Area original and far ahead of his time on multiple fronts:

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