At today’s session horns were added to “Magical Mystery Tour.” There was no written score, and the musicians spent some time twiddling their thumbs while Paul and George Martin tried to figure out what they were supposed to play. Eventually, trumpeter Elgar Howarth grew tired of waiting and wrote a score himself. Howarth did not receive a writing credit and thus lost out on a vast sum of money, but seems to have had a pretty good career nonetheless. Now 81, according to the All-Music Guide he “is one of the most conspicuous figures in modern English musical life, managing to maintain a multifaceted career as a conductor, composer, arranger, and instrumentalist.”

In addition to the brass, some glockenspiel was added, making this by my count the third Beatles song to feature glockenspiel (after “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!” and “Only a Northern Song”). It’s a fun word to say, or to write: glockenspiel. But what does it mean?

Webster’s defines glockenspiel as “a percussion instrument consisting of a series of graduated metal bars tuned to the chromatic scale and played with two hammers” and notes its derivation from the German glocke and spiel. The meaning of “glocke” — bell — is pretty straightforward, but “spiel” can mean play, set, or game. Then there’s the way we use the word in English today — to talk fast or at length — which I believe comes from the yiddish “shpil.” So in a sense a glockenspiel could be a “talking bell,” though I don’t think it’s often thought of that way.

And this spiraling tangent is now officially out of control — that’s when happens when it’s a slow news day in Pepperland. Let’s call it a day early and go to the beach.


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