Gerbil (musical instrument)

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The Gerbil is a small, furry kazoo-like musical instrument which has become increasingly popular in recent years and now most symphony orchestras contain at least one section of gerbil players.

A musician who plays the gerbil is known as a gerbil player or a gerbiler.

Buying and maintaining a gerbil[edit]

Standard Gerbil with instructions.

The gerbil is one of the world's easiest instruments to gain access to due to their small size and because they are the world's only musical instrument capable of having sex and producing more of itself (note: trombones also are capable of having sex, but most are infertile). They are available at both pet stores and music stores, and some of the more recent models come with built in amp plugs and volume knobs. However, once a gerbil is purchased, keeping it in good playing condition is fairly difficult. In addition to the normal maintenance of polishing, washing etc, it must also be fed occasionally or else it will die, which tends to negatively affect its tone (though some rebellious emo bands insist on playing dead gerbils only).

Playing your gerbil[edit]

The gerbil is extremely difficult to play, and even more difficult to master. The basic technique being to hold the gerbil in one hand, and hold its anus up to your lips. Blowing air into the anus of the gerbil should produce a lovely, high pitched, but slightly squeaky noise that can be steadily maintained with enough practice. There aren't many notes that can be played on the gerbil and changing the tone and pitch of the note is often difficult. But it can be done. Some expert gerbil players can create different notes by covering up one or both of the gerbil's nostrils, altering the flow of air through the gerbil's body, and changing the tone of the note. Also, the sound of the note can be changed by squeezing the gerbil slightly as you blow air through its body (warning: do NOT squeeze it too hard!!!) Also, make sure that the gerbil's mouth is open as you play, otherwise the musical notes will sound extremely muffled and, if you play for too long, its head may inflate comically. Some Gerbil players attempt to obtain different notes by swinging the rodent around by its tail, though this technique is often frowned upon, because it usually results in the gerbil coming out of tune, and because their tails are considerably shorter than their private bits - mostly.

History[edit]

The musical properties of the gerbil were first harnessed during the Harlem rennaissance, during the start of the Great Depression. Arnold Mango, a jazz trumpeter, lost his home after the stock market crashed, and couldn't afford to maintain his instrument, so he sold it. The only way he could think of making money was to play jazz, but he now had no trumpet. Just as all hope seemed lost, he found a gerbil in a garbage can, and, out of sheer desperation, he picked it up, put its rear end into his mouth, and began to blow. It produced a lovely, melodic sound, and suddenly streetgoers were cheering. "It was so...avant garde..." says one old man in an interview for the History Channel, "That's the one musical moment from that time that I actually remember. Actually, I remember two musical moments from that time, if you count the singing, one-armed prostitute who...uhm...never mind. Anyway, yeah, it was fantastic. If any musical moment could symbolize the Great Depression it was that moment: a homeless bum blowing into a domesticated rodent's ass."

Mango ended up starting a gerbil quartette, which featured three men playing gerbils and a fourth man playing a bass groundhog. The movement steadily grew in popularity until today, in which gerbils can be heard in almost every musical genre. Pink Floyd used the gerbil extensively, particularly in their popular 16 minute song "Everyone in the world sucks, so you should go kill yourself," which featured 14 minutes of gerbil soloing and 2 minutes of vocals at the very end.

Alternate playing styles and modern position in musical culture[edit]

Many "rebellious" ways to play the gerbil surface in the reform movements of the 1960's. Perhaps even more groundbreaking was the new "acoustic" way of playing the gerbil, which involved strumming its whiskers like guitar strings. Perhaps most controversial of all was "Reverse gerbiling," which involved blowing air into a gerbil's mouth or ear instead of its buttox. Blowing into the mouth or ear produces an entirely different sound, a sound most critics have described as "Bad."

A second alternative is to have several friends inflate a succession of gerbils, then thumping the inflated critters with a small mallet. By proper striking technique, one may create a variety of sounds that fully utilize all of the gerbils' orifices.

Today, the gerbil has been encorporated into nearly every musical genre. Bands entirely made up of gerbil players still exist today, one of which just released a new record: "45 minutes of indistinguishable squeaking, volume VII." Also, the gerbil has become the basis for a new video game called Gerbil Hero, in which users blow into a plastic gerbil and pretend to play famous gerbil solos, such as the one at the end of Pink Floyd's Money (though this solo is often mistaken for a sexophone solo). However, many critics have dismissed this game as detracting from the genuine experience of playing the gerbil. "Our kids are losing their musical roots!" says folk singer Bob Dylan, who often played both guitar and gerbil for his songs, "I can hardly imagine a young person growing up without knowing what it's like to put a fuzzy gerbil anus up to your mouth, and blow." Alternatively, a few modern players (e.g. Peter Frampton) play their gerbils using the conventional "mouth-to-anus" grip, but suck instead of blow. This alters the tonality of the gerbil considerably, resulting in a slow, moaning wail from the instrument that differs from the so-called "harsh" sound of the normal technique. The approach is difficult to master, however.