The Mendoza, Mendozer, Monkey Stick, Murrumbidgee River Rattler, Lagerphone or Zob Stick is a traditional English percussion instrument, used in folk music. The origins of the name are not known but it is believed to stem from an association with Roma, Spanish and Italian buskers who were popular in London in the Victorian era. Alternatively, the name "Monkey Stick" could come from modern practice, in homage to the trained monkeys formerly used by buskers to solicit money from passersby. Some musicians have taken to fixing a small stuffed toy monkey to the tops of their instruments.
Monkey Stick / Mendoza
|Other names||Mendoza, Mendozer, Murrumbidgee River Rattler, Lagerphone, Zob Stick|
The instrument is constructed from a stout pole with metal "jingles" fastened at intervals along the shaft. These are commonly beer-bottle tops with a 1 inch washer in between the tops and the shaft to enhance the quality of the sound. Originally the end of the shaft is believed to have been covered with a rag to give some protection to the floor. A boot that might be attached to the base of the pole is a recent 'Zob Stick' addition.
When played on a wooden floor (common in ale-houses), the sound produced is a combination of a bass drum and tambourine. It can also be played with an additional small notched or serrated stick held in the other hand, allowing it to not only be shaken or hammered onto the ground, but also "bowed" to produce a combined clicking and rattling sound.
In Australia, this instrument constructed with beer-bottle tops is known as a Lagerphone, a variation of the traditional aboriginal instrument using shells. The same name and construction is found in New Zealand.
In Newfoundland, it is referred to as an "Ugly stick". In the Dutch province Friesland this type of instrument is known as a 'kuttepiel'. In the American upper-Midwestern states of Minnesota and Wisconsin, the closely related stumpf fiddle or pogocello originated in Czech communities and adds small cymbals, strings, and a drum. A similar instrument, the batih, is found in Ukraine.
The 'Zob Stick' variation of this instrument was constructed and named in 1968 by percussionist and songwriter Keef Trouble of the band Brett Marvin and the Thunderbolts and Terry Dactyl and the Dinosaurs. It is now, with the term ‘Lagerphone’, the most commonly used name for this instrument. The Brett Marvin invented term 'Zob' was taken from an old risqué UK naval term that has the same meaning in French. The Keef Trouble 'Zob Stick' is distinguished by the first introduction of a sprung-boot attached to the bottom of the pole and a metal sleeve round its centre, this being hit with a serrated wooden stick.
Bands such as Groanbox, Zapoppin' and Dr. Busker have incorporated the Monkey stick into their recordings and live shows.
- The Bushwackers Australian Song Book, new edition 1981, published by Anne O'Donovan Pty Ltd, ISBN 0 908476 07 8 : Lagerphone or Murrumbidgee River Rattler. An upright pole with two crosspieces upon which are screwed beer bottle tops. The noise is made by hitting the instrument on the floor, at the same time striking the middle section with a solid piece of wood.
- "Unofficial lagerphone record set in Brooweena". ABC Wide Bay. Australian Brooadcasting Corporation. 9 June 2009. Retrieved 30 November 2009.