Abby the Spoon Lady : Playing Spoons | A Quick History

Abby the Spoon Lady 

percussionist & storyteller

Playing Spoons | A Quick History

Playing Spoons | A Quick History  

    Playing Spoons| A History — There have been spoon players since before written history. Prehistoric rock drawings and pottery as early as the 4th millennium depict dancing figures with curved blades in their hands. Spoons belong to a class of instrument called concussion idiophone. This general class of instruments includes the oldest instruments known to man. Spoons themselves are prehistoric, and you can say that there have been spoon players since around the invention of the spoon.

Musical Spoons – an old tradition

Many ancient cultures included playing spoons. Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans all played spoons and a variation of the spoons called the rattle bones or the rhythm bones. Rhythm bones are usually a pair of small rib bones, such as from sheep or lamb.  Placed in the hand parallel to the palm with the convex sides facing each other. The bones are placed between each finger. Use one finger as a hinge, and the moving your wrist so that the bones hit each other or “rattle”.  

Rhythm bones are very similar to spoon playing and are also carved out of wood, creating different tones. Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans all played spoons and bones in their battle marches and some even speculate that human bones were used. During the crusades, when these armies were marching the clicking or the bones and spoons meant to their enemy that “the pagans were coming” and it was time to prepare for battle, or to even run and hide. 

from Making Multicultural Music – Sharing Diversity Through The Arts

Playing spoons is in many different cultures. The Irish, French-Canadian, Turkish, Russian and Vietnamese all played spoons as a part of their traditional music heritage. In America, spoons are associated with minstrels, jug bands, and folk music.

 Notable spoon players are Artis the Spoonman, Sam Spoons, Deb “Spoons” Perry, David Holt, Jim Cruise, and Tran Quang Hai. Keeping these ancient art forms is important to not only our own culture but to the world. The playing of spoons is keeping these ancient traditions alive, and forming new ones.

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Do you know any spoon players?

Tell me about it in the comments below… 

Want to read more?  Read a great post about famous spoon-players from around the world!

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  1. Jenny CampbellYou are by far the best I have ever heard . Love watching you play … I could lesson to you all day and never get. Biord !! When I go to my daughters we break out the spoons we love to play .. and I play the tambourine to . Continue to post your videos I share everyone. God bless you and the band ..

  2. Janet ConferYou are awesome. I have 3 sets of spoons for different tones but nothing that has the tone of yours. It appears you are using something, oil, cream, etc on your spoons. It that a secret or do you you share that info. Music is a very important part of my life and the spoons and washboard have become part of any trip I take. My spoons stay in my purse for you never know when there will be a chance to play:)

    1. BonitaJanet, she has told she uses a certain spoon and they are getting hard to find. Also, a friend of hers makes oil which you can buy

  3. JudyWe started a new charter school in salem s.c this year called next school eagle ridge. They have what they call break out class where community leaders come in and teach a group od kids. I wish we could somehow get you to show your talent to this school. No one will ever play as well as you. YOU ARE THE BEST. I’M hoping to get to ashville soon to see you inperson

  4. Gina HuweYou are the best I have ever heard and I believe you will go down in history as the BEST!!!! Just can’t get enough of listening to you!!!!!! God Bless

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