The Chapman Stick

David K. Israel

Some of you might recall my post from a little over a year ago on peculiar instruments. In it, I talked about the bonang, didgeridoo, and others. Well here's an electronic one I left off the list: the Chapman Stick.

Invented in the early 70s by Emmett Chapman, "the stick," as it's usually referred to, is sort of like a cross between a bass and a wide-neck guitar. But rather than plucking or strumming the strings (of which there can be 8, 10, or 12, depending on the model), the stick-ist taps or hammers them, with either the right or left hand, or, more commonly, both.

While many musicians use the stick, probably the most famous is Tony Levin of Peter Gabriel and King Crimson fame. Here's a great video of him playing (and singing) the Crimson song "Elephant Talk."

For a different approach, here's Steve Adelson showing the jazzier side of the stick.

And now for something completely different: some brave dude attempts a Bach WTC prelude!