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Point of View 

Australian singer/guitarist and composer,
Tony King asks and answers the question...

December 2012

The Question:
What is the best Instrument of torture?

by Tony King share this - email, favourites, social bookmarks and more

Sebastian Snide-Whittingly was excommunicated from the Classical world of music after an illustrious career that became complicated, and ended up working for M15 as a "persuader" (The new politically correct term for torturer).
Snide, as he preferred to be addressed, started on 2nd Violin but quickly rose to soloist with the Prague Symphony Orchestra before coming home to play with the London Symphony as a percussionist.
His explanation was that he wasn’t getting enough reading done playing the Violin during the performance. He had tried gaffaring a kindle to the side of his Stradivarius and would turn the pages with his nose, which was easy enough when playing the English composers but not the Russian canon that was popular in Eastern Europe.
They had to let him go after a very ordinary performance of the Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in which he nosed his way through War and Peace without being convincing enough. He thought it made sense to "Read the Russians while playing the Russians"
Back in London he took up percussion and got through a stack of books without raising an eyebrow. He even started writing pieces that were innovative to say the least. His idea was to write breaks into the composition big enough for each musician of the London Symphony to sneak off one at a time and have a pint across the road at the Slug and Lettuce.
He even factored in how quickly a horn player could move, compared to a cor anglais player, to whom he would give an extra 100 bars break. The percussionists, despite having the biggest thirst, were the slowest as they kept texting while walking.
The pieces, though of dubious musical merit, were incredibly popular with the performers.
The last piece he wrote before being sacked was a piece entitled
"OY!! Where’s the Orchestra gone!!??" It consisted of a solo teetotalling bassoon player on stage while the rest of the 119 players were all at the Slug and Lettuce enjoying a 5000 bar break before shambling back in for the last B flat 7th chord.
The establishment eventually forgave him for the pub fiasco, but not the chord. He was excommunicated for that.

Snide’s angry father had a devil of a job finding a job for his miscreant son and had to drink his way right through the Club in order to find an old boy ready to take him on. M15 it was.
He started as an office clerk but it was revealed during psychological tests that due to his years in a boarding school, he had a penchant for "getting to people". A mean streak and nose for getting under peoples skin. He ended up in the interrogation room. He brought his violin to work one day and managed to get the truth out of a suspected bomber by playing Stairway to Heaven an eighth tone flat and very slowly without taking his eyes off the suspect. He had to get all the way to "and as we wind on down the road" before the man broke down in a torrent or tears and spilt the whole plot.
From then, his instruments of persuasion grew.
Strangely he rarely used the bagpipes as he discovered most people only pretended to hate them while secretly tapping along. He noticed this. He noticed everything.
Every person he interrogated had a different weakness and he prided himself on sniffing it out.
He broke down the ringleader of the Kings Cross Bombers by playing Hallelujah on the theremin with irreverent respect for the time signature.
The Birmingham Six were brought to justice after he got the Welsh Male Choir in to sing the Pink Panther theme for 3 hours.
The Brighton Shiny gang rolled over after Rolf Harris and his banjo orchestra got one line into Nirvana’s "Smells like teen Spirit" but Rolf kept going and segued into Billy Holiday’s "Strange Fruit", including a wobble board solo that forced an evacuation of the whole building until tear gas finally stopped the banjo players. Rolf was still singing as they packed him into a Black Hawk and off to Iraq.

One day though, Snide met his match."
He tried everything. This guy was tough. Had no "Tell" as they called it in the trade. No tic…nothing fazed him. He just sang along.
Marina Prior was called in, as things got serious, to do her version of the Chilli Peppers "Give it Away Now" with Lord Tim Rice thumping along on the harpsichord. Still nothing, and seeing the sweat on Snide’s nearly beaten brow, she switched to Dylan’s "Like a Rolling Stone" which nobody recognized because they had never heard the melody before. There was an argument for some time over how the song went, with a flustered Lord Rice poking at the score until Snide banged something very, very loudly down on the table "ENOUGH"!!!!
They all turned to see the most serious instrument of persuasion ever invented. The Vuvuzela. It was the famous and omnipresent racket behind World Cup Soccer. The loudest instrument ever heard. 120 decibels. Equivalent to sticking your head into a jet engine.
"How many Vuvuzelas does it take to change a…WHAT???? I said how many Vuvuzelas does it take… WHAT???? SORRY I STILL CAN"T HEAR YOU!!!!!
Interestingly the Vuvuzela was developed as a weapon by the British Defense Department, but one day an officer took it illegally from it’s securely locked vault and went to a Serbian soccer match to coerce the whereabouts of a war criminal. It disappeared and Pandora was out of the box. Next week 3 appeared at an Arsenal game, the week after, 200 at a Man United game. Next year there were 5 million in Africa and then 300 million at the World Cup.

Snide eyed his victim and warmed up his embouchure for his version of the One Note Samba, with a little sousaphone polka backing. Nobody could survive that. Snide was half way through and he suddenly realized his victim was actually enjoying it. It hit him like a trombone slide in a china shop! This guy was a soccer hooligan!!
He was barking up the wrong tree. This guy LOVED Vuvuzela!!!
Snide stopped, and with a sneer of menace borrowed from his boarding school days, he said, fetch me a soccer ball.
He clamped the ball in a vice and played "You’ll Never Walk Alone" on a kazoo as the pressure was increased on the ball. Beads of sweat started to appear on the hooligan’s neanderthal brow.
The stitches started bulging… slowly popping, one by one under the pressure…It was like a scene from "Das Boat" …key change up a semitone on the Kazoo….then suddenly…
Snide had guessed correctly.
Not a Liverpool supporter.

© 2012 Tony King

Have Your Say
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Pure Gold - thats just a cracker of a read! Im laughing so hard I can bearly type. Although I do feel a bit caught out because I like the bagpipes but pretend not to. Is that wrong????

Posted by John Morrison on Saturday 1 December 2012

Good article. I'd forgotten all about the Vuvuzela, that most annoying of sounds. I'm not sure what's more annoying, the actual sound emanating from the bell of the horn or the function the "instrument" serves - to allow every no-talent schmuck in the audience to 'participate' in the frivolities. (If only there were a sneer/jeer button on my keyboard so I could fully express how much I despise that self-centred notion.) Those familiar with previous vitriolic rants of mine will know that I consider this 21st century obsession with having to actively participate to be seriously undermining the public's appreciation for art. Can't play guitar? That's ok, get the video game GUITAR HERO and you'll be just that! Can't sing? Karaoke! People will even cheer you like you were on stage at Wembley Stadium, providing you are mediocre enough. This wholesale trade-in of excellence for mediocrity threatens art at its very core. Or am I reading too much into it?

Posted by Wil Sargisson on Saturday 1 December 2012
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