“But I’m the one who said, ‘This is a guitar thing!’”...In 1967, Mr. Casher, seated, demonstrated a wah-wah pedal for the film composer Vic Mizzy at Universal Pictures. Photograph: Del Casher/Cache Agency
Merry Monday Playtonics!
To start your week off right, I’d like to highlight a recent New York Times article about the invention of the wah-wah pedal.
Amy Wallace, writer of a monthly column on creativity and innovation (called “Prototype”) for the New York Times Sunday Business section, investigates the iconic guitar pedal for her last “Prototype” column. Specifically, Wallace focuses on Del Casher, a notable guitarist and alleged part inventor of the wah-wah pedal.
The thesis of the article is that, “While it is easier — and more romantic — to talk about innovation as the domain of lone inventors who hit pay dirt while tinkering in solitude, creativity is more often than not a collaborative, and messy, affair.” Following this line of argument, Wallace explains that while engineers for The Thomas Organ company own the patent for the wah-wah pedal, Del Casher helped shaped the pedal’s use, defending its utility for guitars.
This is a great piece for any and all who care about rock and roll history. Or, from a philosophical perspective, it is an effective example of collective innovation.
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The music critic in simpler times...Harold C Schonberg, music critic for the New York Times, in 1966. Photograph: AP
Most are familiar with the term “everyone’s a critic.” It is often used to dismiss an unsolicited or amateur opinion. You say, “I think the new Radiohead album is crap.” I say, “Everyone is a critic.”
But, more than being a sarcastic proverb, this saying is evolving into a truism. Blogs, such as this one, sprout up daily with writers publishing thoughts to be read by others. The trend is toward individual expression of taste.
In the service of providing the opinionated with a forum, the Guardian and Observer have uploaded three million albums onto their website where anyone can write a review. And, for those inclined to pass judgment but lack the interest to commit time and words for a review, there is also the option to give a star rating or create a pre-set list such as “Best albums of all time.”
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