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Marlon Brando's Lost Musical Innovation
July 3, 2011 8:20 PM   Subscribe

Marlon Brando. Yeah, sure, he could act. Very talented guy. But, hey, he also invented a radically innovative tuning system for conga drums. Played the congas, too. Yup. That's right.
posted by flapjax at midnite (23 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
The patent.
posted by hanoixan at 8:32 PM on July 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


You'll note that Brando's consultant was the famous conguero Poncho Sanchez. here he gives an introductory lesson in playing the conga.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:32 PM on July 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm still recovering from the Zeppo Marx/Enola Gay connection; I'm going to go lie down for a while.
posted by Kinbote at 8:34 PM on July 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


Neat discovery.

"He had these shoes that you can wear in the pool, that would increase friction as you walk on the bottom of the pool to give you a better workout," Costanza says. "He was fascinated by the geodesic dome, always talking about ways to build things using the geodesic dome."

Huh. Nice to know about that side of Brando.
posted by nickyskye at 8:38 PM on July 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


While we're on the subject, Hedy Lamarr/Frequency Hopping.
posted by cazoo at 8:46 PM on July 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


"Are you a musician?"

"I'm a drummer."

"You're neither. You're an errand boy, sent by patent clerks, to dig my groovy rhythm."
posted by George Clooney at 9:17 PM on July 3, 2011 [9 favorites]


This reminds me of the Charlie Mingus cat toilet training program.
posted by to sir with millipedes at 9:27 PM on July 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Celebrity Patents
posted by nickyskye at 9:33 PM on July 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


"Isn't it gay?"
Chris Elliot as Brando
posted by davebush at 9:34 PM on July 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


That congo clip is from 1953 the same year he played Mark Antony
posted by stbalbach at 9:36 PM on July 3, 2011


How about the little aside that Brando also invented pool shoes with increased traction for water exercise? Someone is making millions with that exact idea right now.
posted by Aquaman at 10:02 PM on July 3, 2011


Dude, that was Edward R. Murrow doing the interview, too. All kinds of awesome.
posted by darkstar at 11:13 PM on July 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


This was just in my facebook feed because I went to high school with Kevin Costanza (and his better half). I had just commented, asking him for any non-privileged anecdotes and more info on the shoes when I saw this. I'll report anything else that comes out.
posted by planetkyoto at 11:43 PM on July 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Brando Santamaria...

Bananas
posted by rhizome at 11:44 PM on July 3, 2011


Actor Marlon Brando was an Afro-Cuban drumming enthusiast

I think they may have buried the lede.
posted by dhartung at 12:14 AM on July 4, 2011


Marlon Brando playing the recorder. That image, by the way, is from the 1948 Life Magazine article that first introduced Brando to a national audience. He was a good drummer, a great actor, and, um... sometimes he sang.
posted by twoleftfeet at 1:12 AM on July 4, 2011


was it really 'radically innovative' -- don't tympani have something similar as standard equipment?
posted by lodurr at 3:49 AM on July 4, 2011


... plus, it's just hard to top the 'i'm going to get back at my nazi scumbag ex-husband and his nazi scumbag cronies by inventing a weapon' aspect of the hedy lamar story. i like to think brando would agree.
posted by lodurr at 3:51 AM on July 4, 2011


from the patent, it looks like the claim w/r/t kettle drums is that his device is simpler. I have to admit, I really like the idea of drum performance with dynamic pitch; would be interesting to see someone pick this up and do some product development on it. maybe with publicity some tinkering-minded jazz or avant garde percussionist will petition the estate....
posted by lodurr at 4:01 AM on July 4, 2011


Reminds me of his bizarre character in the charming and underrated (well, maybe not underrated, just underseen) Missouri Breaks. He played a eccentric wild west hitman with an on-purpose-fake irish accent. In a few scenes he uses a odd sort of four pointed throwing knife to kill or hunt. A weapon he apparently invented and about which he had to say:
"I always wondered why in the history of lethal weapons no one invented that particular one. It appealed to me because I used to be very expert at knife throwing."

Hell
of a guy, that Marlon.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 6:41 AM on July 4, 2011


This Brando guy, he seems pretty good. Has he been in anything I know of?
posted by QuarterlyProphet at 7:10 AM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow. Every time I read about Brando, I realize how freakin' weird the guy really was.
posted by duvatney at 12:34 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


"I always wondered why in the history of lethal weapons no one invented that particular one."

There was a throwing-knife from east Africa that had 5 blades.
posted by lodurr at 4:36 AM on July 5, 2011


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