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August 1, 2008

Stylophone to make Christmas comeback?


by Brian Turner

According to unusual gifts and gadget suppliers, ShinyShack, the infamous Stylophone is heading for a Christmas comeback.

For those who don’t remember it, it was supposed to be a revolution in home music production.

Launched by Dubreq in the 1970’s, the stylophone was billed as a music revolution.

Holding a metal stylus running an electric charge, you would run it along a metal keypad. Where the stylus and pad touched to form an electrical circuit, a corresponding “note” - actually, more a “tone” - would be emitted from different parts of the pad.

Polyphonic it wasn’t, and Jean Michel Jarre certainly had nothing to worry about - but the sound was original.

And this was in the late 70’s era when all things electronic were funky - and Debreq had a marketing ace in Rolf Harris.

Yes, the wobble-board Australian, famous for his connections to Two Little Boys, butchered animals, and painting (not all at the same time, of course) dropped his didgeridoo to push the Stylophone across the 20″ black and white cathode-ray tube TV’s that every home owned.

And for a while, it was the gimmick of the year.

Then next year followed, something else took its place, and the Stylophone was relegated to the realms of bizarre nostalgia - with Pulp and David Bowie allegedly making tribute to it as a part of the instrumentation in their recordings.

And now, after flares, skateboards, and the Osmonds have all made successful returns from the 70’s, the Stylophone could be this year’s surprise Christmas sensation.

Well, at least in a few stockings, anyway.

Of course, it has moved with the times - the funky buzzing Stylophone now comes with two new sounds and an MP3 player!

Whether or not the kids of today are convinced of its appeal, we can certainly see a few dads grabbing a few out of sheer nostalgia, a need to share, and a will to rediscover an old childhood sound.

If that happens to you, if nothing else, you got yourself a cheap MP3 player.

And maybe, just maybe, part of a new wave of cult buzzing gimmickry.

We can only hold our breath at the prospect of Rolf Harris re-appearing on our screens with one sometime soon…

Story link: Stylophone to make Christmas comeback?


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