Essentials of the Pogocello, from David

Hello Anders, The pogocello was "invented" in the 1950's in Far Rockaway New York by the husband of a music educator whose last name was Perry. It was sold in the United States as a children's instrument, but many adults bought them, too. There were marching bands in the state of Iowa that had them in the 1950's I understand that on new Year's day they are played in the Mummers' parade in Philadelphia. (A friend saw something in the 1990's that she said looked like a pogocello in a store in Prague, Czechoslovakia.) Mr. Perry's son, Roger, was a college room-mate of mine -- and is to this day a friend. He introduced me to this amazing instrument. Over the years, however, I have made several pogocellos myself, including the one I play now in the Gloucester Hornpipe and Clog Society. This one is a special one. It is filled with relief woodcarvings, a creation of my wife, who is a woodcarver. Here's what all pogocellos have in common. The essential elements are:

1) a board approximately five or six feet high, 1/2 inch thick, and 3 inches wide, held vertically;

2) a bolt fastened to the back of the board at the bottom with two eye screws. Surrounding this bolt is an outward-coiling spring. When you bang the board on a wooden stage or other hard surface it makes a thumping, bass sound. You don't lift it up -- it springs up on its own -- like bouncing pogo stick -- hence the name "pogocello."

3) a cookie or cake tin (I like Danish cookie tins myself) fastened to the stick with screws, about two feet from the bottom

4) a wire -- I use braided baling wire -- fastened at the top and bottom with eye screws, which goes across the cookie tin, and which is tightened with a turnbuckle

5) a bracket bolted onto the cookie tin holding a piece of bent coat hanger so that it is fastened at one end to the wire, and so that the other end rests lightly against the cookie tin

6) a threaded wooden rod, about 2 1/2 feet long which is drawn like a bow across the braided bailing wire When the threaded wooden rod is drawn across the tightened wire it causes the bent coat hanger to repeatedly rap against the cookie tin. This makes a sound like a snare drum roll. Thumping the stick on a stage gives a bass sound. The especially loud alternating bass and snare sounds produced by the instrument are like a bass and snare drum in a New Orleans traditional Jazz band. I have played the pogocello in a blues band, a soul music band, a bluegrass band and -- for many years in the Gloucester Hornpipe and Clog Society which plays Celtic, french Canadian, and other kinds of folk music. It is especially good for marches (as you might imagine) but also for polkas, reels and other traditional dance tunes.

7) many interesting things can be attached to the stick to give some percussive variations : tin can lids, jingle bells, bottle caps, a cow bell, a wood block, perhaps a tambourine. I have tin lids, and jingle bells on my current pogocello, and I also sometimes have a cow bell.

Having written this I realize how difficult it must be to imagine without actually seeing it. So, I'll try to take a digital picture to send to you.

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