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Marxophone - just saw Katherine Rhoda's!

SharonA 08 Feb 06 - 01:45 PM
Bat Goddess 08 Feb 06 - 04:42 PM
Charley Noble 08 Feb 06 - 05:10 PM
GUEST 08 Dec 13 - 06:27 AM
GUEST,Denis McKay 08 Dec 13 - 05:22 PM
Charley Noble 08 Dec 13 - 09:08 PM
Jack Campin 09 Dec 13 - 05:51 AM
GUEST,leeneia 09 Dec 13 - 10:23 AM
Katherine Rhoda 20 Aug 15 - 10:35 AM
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Subject: Marxophone - just saw Katherine Rhoda's!
From: SharonA
Date: 08 Feb 06 - 01:45 PM

I went to an open mic night in Norristown, Pennsylvania yesterday evening, and a woman took the stage with one of the oddest instruments I've ever seen. She proceeded to perform a series of beautiful and haunting tunes on this fascinating contraption. The woman is Katherine Rhoda from Maine (who, according to my Forum search, is known to Bat Goddess and Charley Noble already). The instrument is a Marxophone.

Unfortunately, there was neither the time nor the opportunity to do more than chat briefly with Katherine after her performance, purchase her CD of folk tunes played on various instruments of the early 1900s(including the Marxophone, ukelin, and violin-guitar), and take a quick look at the Marxophone in a darkened room. Still, that was enough to make me want one! It's an inventive cross between an autoharp and a hammer dulcimer with a keyboard.

The National Music Museum website says this about it: "The Marxophone was produced by the Marxochime Colony of New Troy, Michigan, which was in business from about 1927 to 1972. Henry Charles Marx (1875-1947), founder of the company, oversaw the production of many types of guitar-zithers with names such as the Marxophone, Marx piano harp, Marxolins, violin-uke, pianolin, violin-guitar, Hawaii-phone, and others. Related instruments made by other manufacturers included the mandolin-guitar and the mandolin-harp. Marx instruments were sold on time-purchase plans by door-to-door salesmen as well as through mail-order companies such as Sears. The Marxophone has four sets of chord strings to be strummed by the left hand, and fifteen double courses of melody strings which are struck by metal hammers activated by the right hand. Numerically coded music prepared specifically for the Marxophone indicates when and in what order melody and chord strings are to be played. The advantage of using numerically coded music is that one does not have to know how to read standard musical notation in order to play the instrument. Although the instruments were billed as easy-to-play, many purchasers were frustrated in their attempts to master them. Decades later, marxophones and many other related instruments are being rediscovered in numerous household closets, attics, and offered for sale in antique shops and flea markets." (The website also shows a page published by the Marxolin Co. with their own specialized notation for playing a tune on the instrument.)

There are a couple of models of Marxophones pictured on this site: www.fretlesszithers.com/gizmo.html (the image on the left shows the model that I saw, with spring-steel hammers and lead weights, with the hammers raised in playing position)

Anybody out there own a Marxophone? Is it worth trying to find one, getting it repaired/restored, etc.? I don't know if my infatuation with it will fade once I have one and start dealing with its limitations since it's not a chromatic instrument, but it sure does look like fun, and it sounds so strangely sweet in Katherine Rhoda's expert hands!

Thanks to Katherine for "playing out" during her visit to this area, and introducing so many folks to her music and her antique instruments. What a treat!


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Subject: RE: Marxophone - just saw Katherine Rhoda's!
From: Bat Goddess
Date: 08 Feb 06 - 04:42 PM

Katherine Rhoda is the Goddess of Unusual Instruments! She is also one of the pre-eminent ukelin players in the world.

She was the inspiration that made me buy a Celestaphone (just like a Marxophone, only made by a different company).

But, I, uh, haven't restrung it yet. (And I've owned it for many, many years, sigh.) But now maybe I WILL!!

It's a somewhat limiting instrument -- I think it only plays in C. But...you can plonk your fingers on the keys and play some delightful music the first time out of the shute. That, actually, was its big selling point as home entertainment.

Katherine's got a great repertoire, too!

Linn


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Subject: RE: Marxophone - just saw Katherine Rhoda's!
From: Charley Noble
Date: 08 Feb 06 - 05:10 PM

Katherine is a one-of-kind performer and her CD's are well worth investing in.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Marxophone - just saw Katherine Rhoda's!
From: GUEST
Date: 08 Dec 13 - 06:27 AM

hey

Hi

My name is Terry. I'm a singer songwriter from London England and i am busy at work creating a record of originals that aims to mix the style of the beach boys and beatles with the world of invented instrument builders (harry partch, john cage, lou harrision) and world music instruments (chinese, indonesian, etc).

The long and the short of it is i would like to pay you to play a few short, uncomplicated parts on one or two of my songs, specifically with the dolceola and the marxophone / celestaphone. This will not be time consuming thing.

I have one or two questions if i may :

What kind of microphones do you have in your possession (if any?)

What kind of fee would you charge me for some lines and chord progressions?

Please email me here :

dielikeasamurai@yahoo.co.uk

thanks

Terry


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Subject: RE: Marxophone - just saw Katherine Rhoda's!
From: GUEST,Denis McKay
Date: 08 Dec 13 - 05:22 PM

marxphones, celestaphones, man do guitars etc. are pretty common here in Oz. They cost a fortune to restring, but it is worth the effort.

There are a lot of Me in hold instruments of the zither family here in Ozand a lot of them are in surprisingly good condition.

Denis


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Subject: RE: Marxophone - just saw Katherine Rhoda's!
From: Charley Noble
Date: 08 Dec 13 - 09:08 PM

Terry-

I'm forwarding your post to Katherine via Facebook where she is a member. She may not check in here.

Charlie Ipcar


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Subject: RE: Marxophone - just saw Katherine Rhoda's!
From: Jack Campin
Date: 09 Dec 13 - 05:51 AM

Note that the FretlessZithers.com site has gone. And the reason it's gone is due to irresponsible curating by a museum. From a thread on The Ocarina Network, about the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, Arizona:

I would never donate a thing to that museum.

There was a website up for years, FretlessZithers.com. People who had researched a totally unpromoted area of musical instrument history compiled this AMAZING resource of historical information with dozens of makes, tons of historical research, music samples, etc.

The people who did it didn't want to run it anymore. They donated the site to this museum.

WHICH SHUT IT DOWN. Fretless zither enthusiasts, including some who contributed to the site, are all very upset, some are trying to get copies of the info for their own personal use, they are getting no response.

I contacted the museum and offered to pay for the hosting to keep the site up MYSELF (not like I can afford it, but I would)
No response.

All that work, the ONLY source for all of this information....
GONE.

That museum will NEVER get any support from me. And I have donated many things to museums in the past, had an entire wing in a NY museum devoted to my antique toys, my entire musical instrument collection will be donated if I croak... and I have an extensive collection of ephemera from San Francisco transit (cable cars, etc.) that will also end up donated.


With that attitude, it wouldn't be surprising if they simply dumped instruments they don't understand in a bin.


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Subject: RE: Marxophone - just saw Katherine Rhoda's!
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 09 Dec 13 - 10:23 AM

This thread started in 2006. It is now possible to go to YouTube, enter Marxophone in the search box and find a few performances on the instrument. In this video, Katherine Rhoda explains the instrument and then plays it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7A9iIQj2mO4

It seems to me that with it one would get the effect of a hammered dulcimer while having less to learn and less to carry about.


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Subject: RE: Marxophone - just saw Katherine Rhoda's!
From: Katherine Rhoda
Date: 20 Aug 15 - 10:35 AM

EUREKA!!! I just stumbled onto a reincarnation of the incomparable fretlesszithers dot com website, which I had believed to have been lost to the world after it was bequeathed to the Musical Instrument Museum of Phoenix, Arizona by the late Garry Harrison. I see that Garry Harrison's daughter Genevieve Harrison Koester has a hand in reviving it, along with her husband Smith Koester and Garry's "longtime friend and musical collaborator" (as his obituary puts it) Jo Burgess. Thank you, folks! Check it out at http://www.pickaway.press/fz/


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