THE PIXIPHONE - A DEFINITIVE DEFINITION
Below are three different variations of the Pixiphone
I'm adding this to the web site to go with the revised entry on Wikipedia. The Musical Instrument The Pixiphone was manufactured by Chas E. Methven Ltd, Chatham, England and the name Pixiphone is the trademarked name of Chas E. Methven Ltd, Chatham, England which were distributed by Playcraft Toys Ltd England. Although listed as 'Toys' they could be tuned pitch-perfect and were very robust meaning that a countless thousands of children used them at British Schools. They were played with a pair of 'Hammers'. The larger Pixiphones also had a 'raiser-bar' which could be used to end the note sharply, rather than letting the note fade naturally.
In an interview Steve Took recalled buying his first Pixiphone from Harrods. A please I felt 'drawn' to from quite an early age as I enjoyed the architecture and discovered that although the clothes are out of this world price-wise, toys and musical instruments were the same price in Harrods as they were in almost any other shop, so I can fully see why Tookie, with his Grammar School Education was attracted there just as I was with my Grammar School Education.
So take note: Its a Pixiphone
Please update your memory banks to ensure that you erase all memory of that incorrect 'e'. Funny how the letter 'e' dogs our man Took. First off over zealous spell checkers change 'Peregrin' (correct) into 'Peregrine' (incorrect) and now we have 42 years of Pixiphone being changed too! In fact all three Tyrannosaurus Rex albums featuring Steve Took have it spelt 'Pixiephone'. Presumably this is because although they were pitch perfect the Pixiphones were made for use by children (often in schools as they are so sturdily built) so it was taken to be a made-up hippy dippy word or similar. Similarly, the Record Company didn't get Took's middle name right on the 1st album. No doubt Took complained as it is spelt correctly as Peregrin for the 2nd & 3rd albums. So there you go. You live and learn!
For some time I thought the name 'Pixiephone' was an abbreviation of the name 'Pixie Xylophone' which was actually a toy xylophone in the 'Sooty' TV character range. I even bought one!
Of course when it arrived I realised that there was no 'musical tone' & anyone as serious about his music as Took would not have entertained using such a thing. I have now been corrected by a friend of Took's so I know what I write is now 100% correct.
OK I feel a 'numpty' for the 'Sooty Pixie Xylophone, but at least I had a grasp of the fact that the Pixiphone was a percussion instrument which was hit with the hammers provided, or other suitable things such as drum sticks, rather than being a 'Wind Instrument' you blow into.
The myth of a 'pixiephone' being a wind instrument is being spread by web sites such as http://www.search.com/reference/Pixiephone which states:-
"The Pixiephone was a children's toy sold in the UK in the 1960s and 1970s, similar to the Melodica. Steve Peregrin Took used one on early recordings with Marc Bolan in Tyrannosaurus Rex."
The link for Melodica is active and confirms that the Melodica is a "free-reed instrument similar to the accordion and harmonica". This then explains the humourous image I found the image (right) where one of the comments was "Oh and that must be the Pixiephone".
Fee Warner BSc Honours (First Class)
Written on the 3rd January, 2010