Steve Dix...Comedian?

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15.02.2008 08:12 - Funk Triangle

If there's one musical art that has gone sorely unrecognised by musical history, it is the art of playing funk triangle.

Many people write the triangle off as a musical instrument. After all, like drums, it's only got one note and that's "thud!", or more like "ting!" in the case of the triangle. Being given the triangle to play at school was the music teachers way of implying you were a musical dunce who could just about be trusted to hit one lump of metal with another - a fate which befell my father, and is probably why he ended up as a production engineer specialising in folding metal boxes.

But of course, that was long before funk triangle came about. Funk triangle, to put it mildly, is a syncopated beat played on a rapidly-muted triangle, giving an easily-recognizable 'chikka-ka-chikka' sound, which was prominently featured in the original "Shaft" theme tune, where it was played by Bernard "Footsie" Champion, the 'player's player' and acknowledged master of the funk triangle. It's also an absolute bugger to master. You can easily recognise the wannabe funk triangle player by the bruises on his thumb, because the clodhopper tried to mute at the same time as hitting. In the heydays of the seventies, far too many people bought into the sound without practicing the chops. Any fool with an afro wig could get a gig. Some of the instruments on sale, cashing in on the boom, were little more than bent pieces of coathanger.

Sadly, true funk triangle is now a dying art, and the once-plentiful supply of gigs for the funk triangle session player have dried up. Footsie hung up his triangle in the early 80's due to the easy availability of funk triangle patches on drum machines. Many consider the art of funk triangle to be nothing more than a fad, the end of which is largely considered to have been the theme tune to "The Professionals".


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