There are several different genres of string bands, coming out of the varied yet sometimes overlapping worlds of country, blues, and jazz. Of the ensembles coming from the latter persuasion, one that is considered one of the most important was the Spirits of Rhythm. A string band, in case there is any confusion, is basically a group where the accompaniment to singing, if there is any, is provided by stringed instruments. Sometimes joining forces from outside the stringed instrument family are various homemade instruments or perhaps a harmonica. The Spirits of Rhythm was well-known for its cooking rhythmic sound. Much of the distinctive nature of this sound comes from the sometimes forgotten stringed instrument called the tiple, which is about the same size as the mandolin and shares a few of that instrument's aspects such as doubled strings (and as well, variations of both instruments without the doubled strings also exist). But the tiple has a special, deeper tone that not only sounds great for rhythmic guitar work but also gives the solos on the instrument a special lustre, easily recognizable from the guitar solos. The contrast between the different stringed instruments, and the player's zest in outdoing each other, was all part of the fun. In much the same manner of the old Django Reinhardt groups, the rhythm instruments are doubled up or in the case of the Spirits group tripled. Two of the tiple players were brothers Douglas and Walter Daniels, the latter sibling no relation to the Austin, TX, harmonica player. None of the players used picks or plectrums, again giving the sound another special edge to it. The tiple players in this group are basically considered the most important exponents of this instrument in jazz, perhaps because they are just about the only ones.
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