Trumpeter Clark Terry talked about how he learned to listen and play music on a re-broadcast of the Billy Taylor Jazz program on NPR, which I caught a portion of in my car.
Terry said that he and his friends built crystal radios to pick up music over the air. The radios were cheap and the sound was not very good. They’d set the radio in a large bowl to amplify the sound. They began imitating the sounds they heard, improvising with makeshift instruments. Terry described a “bass”, which was made with the hose from a vacuum, one end of which was placed in a large glass. His first trumpet was made from a garden hose, wound in a coil with a funnel on one end and a bit of pipe on the other as a mouth piece. Terry said they made an awful lot of noise and not much music. However, neighbors who grew tired of the noise pitched in and bought Terry his first trumpet.
Terry’s story shows how DIY can jumpstart a career.
Information about the Clark Terry program can be found on NPR in an archive of the Billy Taylor show. (I’m not sure if the program itself is available; I have trouble with RealAudio.)
I also wrote on O’Reilly Radar about our preference for the sound of MP3s in The Sizzling Sound of Music.