Recently we told you the story of the Res-o-Glas guitar – that plastic guitar from the ‘60s with the shimmery sound, played by a long list of rock gods, from Bob Dylan to Jack White.
But that’s just Chapter 1 of the plastics and music story. You could put together an entire band, or orchestra, using instruments built with polymers (“polymer” you’ll recall, is the fancy name for plastic).
Take jazz, for instance, and the saxophone. Among his instruments, the great Charlie Parker played an acrylic saxophone made by Grafton, and on occasion, so did Rudy Vallee (when he wasn’t singing). And it wasn’t a Grafton, but David Bowie’s first musical instrument (he was 10 or 11 at the time) was – a plastic saxophone.
There’s a plastic trombone too – the pBone. (And yes, there’s a pTrumpet too.) If you’re curious about the chemistry of that music, the pBone is made from ABS plastic, made possible by petrochemicals (in this case, you take a little acrylonitrile, a little styrene, a little butadiene…and a few chemical reactions later, you’ve got a trombone).
So that brass section – “76 polymer pBones led the big parade”? Well, maybe it works better for the music than the lyrics…