The Sunny Side

Pics, flicks and notes about my musical friends and family in and around Old Town Eureka, California.
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Location: Eureka, California, United States

My front porch in Old Town Eureka is known as The Sunny Side. Southern exposure, protected from the wind, it is an ideal place to sit and play old timey tunes and watch the parade go by.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Father's Day Gift

My daughter Lily and grand daughter Sophia gave me a harmonica for Father's Day, a very nice Hohner Golden Melody in the key of D. Great for playing old time fiddle tunes. Here's an interesting bit of history about the harmonica. It seems that when Napoleon was digging up those old tunes in Egypt he also uncovered the instruments used to play the tunes. A mouth organ fitted with reeds, from the Reed Sea. He also discovered that many of the tomb paintings are actually illustrations of the dance steps used to accompany the music. Napoleon loved the instrument and the music and wished to share it with the rest of Europe, so he called it the Hamphonica, in honor of Ham, the biblical founder of Egypt, and began on his quest of spreading the joy to the rest of the world. But folks got the name confused with the Harmonica invented by Ben Franklin a few years before, and anyway Napoleon had a hard time pronouncing the hard consonants in the word Hamphonica. The French have what is known as a lazy tongue and try to avoid consonants, replacing them with vowels. Probably from eating snails. This is illustrated by the fact that the word Fiddle, when spoken by a Frenchman, sounds something like Violin, from which we get that word. In France snails are thought of as a venison. The dance that accompanies the music came to be known as Hambone, as depicted in the tomb paintings. Along with the music we Americans acquired these treasures from Egypt in 1803 with the Louisiana Purchase. And that is why the Harmonica is known as the French Harp. Or it could be because you use your tongue to play it.

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2 Comments:

Blogger EkoVox said...

The Egyptian hambone, eh? So, that's where Junior Samples got that from.

Huck, your historical references are a delight.

8:44 PM  
Blogger hucktunes said...

Thanks. I call it a 'bit' of history. I hope I don't sound too harsh with the French. We Americans seem to poke a lot of fun at them. But I think that deep down it is because we hate them for their freedom.

3:35 PM  

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