April Fool's Day Music Hoaxes
April Fool Whistle.
"An April Fool whistle can be made as shown in the illustration, and filled with flour, which will fly into the face of any one who tries to blow it. A B (Fig. 1) is a tin tube, stopped by two pieces of cork. One at the end has holes in it and a glass tube through it, as shown in Fig. 2. The other figures explain themselves. [The Young Folks' Cyclopedia of Games and Sports, 1899]
Margaret Truman’s Rearmament Tour.
A West German newspaper reported that Margaret Truman, daughter of President Harry Truman, was planning to make a concert tour of West Germany "to inspire German approval of rearmament."
Margaret Truman had launched a singing career in 1947, though her performances often received negative reviews. Music critic Paul Hume wrote in 1950 that she was "extremely attractive on the stage... [but] cannot sing very well. She is flat a good deal of the time. And still cannot sing with anything approaching professional finish."
Lirpa Loof Concert.
The BBC promised radio listeners that they wouldn't want to miss the concert of the "distinguished continental pianist" Lirpa Loof. But when the scheduled time arrived, there was no concert. "Actually, of course, Lirpa Loof is April Fool spelled backward," an announcer explained.
At the University of Chicago, a cast of 40 took part in a "musical spoof" featuring the sounds of the 72-bell carillon atop the Rockefeller Chapel. The musicians, who stood in the huge gutter along the chapel's roof, were accompanied by the cymbaling of Mrs. Loraine Percy of Kenilworth, wife of GOP Senate candidate Charles Percy. The climax of the performance was John Philip Sousa's "Stars and Stripes Forever."
On Cable magazine reported on a huge publicity blitz being planned around an upcoming Michael Jackson song, "Tingle." The song was three minutes and twelve seconds long, but Jackson's record company had developed a 37-minute promo clip to hype the video, and this promo was, in turn, being developed into a 3-hour film by Paramount. MTV was going to show the 37-minute promo clip hourly.
At the bottom of the article a note said "On Cable, April Fool, 1984." Nevertheless, two weeks later a reporter for "Breakaway," a syndicated news-magazine program, reported the "Tingle" story as breaking news.
KISW Format Change.
KISW, a Seattle Rock radio station, changed its format to what it called 'classical rock' for a day, playing a selection of classical music and rock. It advertised itself as "Seattle's best mix of the 1600s, 1700s, 1800s and today." It also promised a no-repeat Monday, saying that "you won't hear the same sonata twice."
NPR's All Things Considered interviewed Reed Summers, winner of a "Mouth Sounds" competition in Belleville, Illinois. Summers explained that "mouth sounders" use their mouth, tongue, teeth, lips, and vocal chords to create a variety of sounds, such as the sound of an angry cockatoo, a goose, a train, and Bach's Toccata — all of which he demonstrated in the studio. As the interview with Summers progressed, the sounds he made grew increasingly elaborate and realistic, causing host Robert Siegel eventually to declare, "If I hadn't seen you doing that in front of me just now, I would have assumed that was a recording." Summers attributed his mouth-sounding skill to the fact that he didn't speak until he reached the age of 10, but instead spent his childhood listening to the sounds around him.
The Today program on BBC Radio 4 announced that the British National anthem ("God Save the Queen") was to be replaced by a Euro Anthem sung in German. The new anthem, which Today played for their listeners, used extracts from Beethoven's music and was sung by pupils of a German school in London. Reportedly, Prince Charles's office telephoned Radio 4 to ask them for a copy of the new anthem. St. James Palace later insisted that it had been playing along with the prank and had not been taken in by it.
Shellac, Sound of the Future.
NPR's All Things Considered ran a segment about the efforts by preservationists to transfer audio recordings to a durable medium that would last far into the future. The medium they had decided upon was shellac — the material Edison had used when he first invented recording technology back in the nineteenth century. Archivists had identified this as "the one rock-solid format... that works every time."
Works such as Vanilla Ice's debut CD were being painstakingly transferred onto shellac. The report concluded: "If funding levels can be maintained, experts estimate the archiving project can catch up with recordings made before 2003 by April 1, 2089."
The German software company Application Systems Heidelberg debuted an iShave attachment for the iPod, allowing you to transform your iPod music player into an electric razor. The website boasted: "Now with your iPod you can not only hear good music everywhere, you can also get a smooth shave to look good."
Orchestra Steroid Scandal.
NPR also ran a story about the growing use of performance-enhancing drugs (steroids) in the world of music. It stated that: "Something is happening in the world of music. Musicians are playing faster, louder, and stronger than they ever have before… Rumors have been circulating for some time that just like in the world of sports performance enhancing drugs may be the cause."
Retailer Gear4 unveiled the iRon:
"The iRon™ is a revolutionary cable free travel iRon™ for the iPod™. Simplicity is the key to the iRon's design, simply unfold the iRon™, fill with water, dock your iPod™ and "Steam Your Tunes". The iRon™ uses the iPod's battery for power and the steam jets are controlled by the tunes playing on the iPod™ . Thanks to GEAR4's unique SteamTempo™ technology, the jets spray in time to the music – fast, bass heavy tunes producing more steam and softer music providing less."
PopXpress, a UK chain of stores dedicated to iPod and MP3 accessories, unveiled the iPop Bra, a product designed to help people keep "abreast of music":
"The new bra incorporates a concealed pocket for your iPod or MP3 player and control buttons built into the fabric. Available in white or black and in cup sizes ranging from A to F, the ipopBra has been designed so you can keep the smallest of gadgets right next to your biggest assets."
Chip and Sing Cards.
The London Times reported that "Britain's banks are developing a system of credit card security that uses the voice's tonal range. Rather than needing to recall a PIN, you will need to remember a line of a song... Optical scans are too fallible, and standard voice recognition too easy to mimic electronically. But no two people sing the same way. Tills and cash dispensers are to have microphones."
National Public Radio's Weekend Edition Sunday reported that New York City Democratic councilman David Yassky had called for a ban on obnoxious ring tones. The councilman claimed that objectionable ring tones were costing the economy upwards of $1.2 billion and were the cause of numerous fights induced by "ring-tone rage." As of April 1, 2008, NPR reported, cell phone users would be restricted to four city-approved ring tones.
YouTube Rickrolls its Visitors.
YouTube "rickrolled" its visitors. All the "featured video" links on its front page sent people to a video of 1980s pop singer Rick Astley singing his 1987 hit Never Gonna Give You Up. The video was posted under the user name YTRickRollsYou. Over 7 million people fell for the prank.
["Rickrolling" is a bait-and-switch-style prank that became popular on the internet in 2007. The prank is simple. A victim is tricked into clicking a link that takes them to a video of Rick Astley's song.]
World’s Longest Anthem.
The Sun revealed that during the World Cup qualifying match against Ukraine, fans would have to stand as the world's longest national anthem played, the six-and-a-half minute version of Oi Ukrainy. Any fans who sat down during the anthem would be ejected from Wembley stadium. The anthem would be sung by the folk star Furstov Aprylova.
Björk joins Led Zeppelin.
Icelandic musician Björk announced on her website that she had accepted the position of lead vocalist for Led Zeppelin. However, she insisted that she would only cover songs from Led Zeppelin album's I and IV.
Beethoven’s 10th Symphony.
NPR's Weekend Edition revealed the discovery of a 10th symphony written by Ludwig van Beethoven. It had been found by Professor of Musicology Friedrich von und Zum Hagen while doing research in the library of New York's Masonic Hall. It was hidden inside a folder labeled "Johann Nepomuk Maelzl" — the name of a 19th-century inventor of a transcribing piano that produced a printed version of any piece of music played on it. Zum Hagen speculated that Maelzl asked Beethoven to try out this piano "since the composer was very enthusiastic about technical advances." When Beethoven did so, the machine transcribed the 10th symphony. Maelzl then "absconded to America with the manuscript."
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All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.