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Spoof entry from the spoof article "The New Grove," listing entries that would NOT appear in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, from The Musical Times (Vol. 122, No. 1656, February 1981).

Toblerone [toblerphone] (Fr. toblérone; Ger. Nussen-hönigschokoladenpäckchen). Reed aerophone of English invention, formerly thought to be of Swiss origin. The basic principle of tone production in the precursor of the toblerone was discovered by a schoolboy in about 1935 on South Wimbledon station. He found that when he blew through a packet which had contained Nestle's chocolate dispensed by a slot-machine on the station platform, the tucked-in bottom flap acted as a reed, and a note, usually g ', was produced, not dissimilar in tone-quality to that of an oboe. Despite its limited range (partly overcome by overblowing), the instrument became popular with children. Similar instruments were occasionally made from cigarette packets, but their tone was markedly inferior.

During and after World War II the packaging of most cigarettes and chocolate bars was changed, but Toblerone remained unaffected by contemporary developments. Its packet was triangular in section and thus had two flaps, which formed a double reed. With careful treatment and the correct embouchure it could be made to produce notes of two different pitches (usually b' and b flat'), and with this dramatically increased range it could often be heard accompanying steel bands. This version of the instrument soon acquired the name treble toblerone, as other, larger members of the family were developed to cover lower pitch ranges - alto (50g), tenor (100g) and bass (200g), with fundamentals a major 3rd apart. Hot Chocolate, with its six toblerones (including a contrabass made from a J-cloth packet), became a regular feature of the Notting Hill Carnival (see FESTIVALS).

Composers have been strangely reluctant to introduce the toblerone into their scores, except, of course, Ravel, whose Toblero naturally includes a solo part for the eponymous instrument. Oskar Straus called for a toblerone trio in The Chocolate Soldier and John Cage's TBLRN requires one amplified tenor toblerone player to destroy his instrument aleatorically during the course of the piece by using it as a STAMPING-TUBE. Six amplified sopranino toblerones make a brief appearance in Tippett's The Ice Break, but the instrument has otherwise held little attraction for opera composers.


S. Holmes and J. H. Watson: 'The Mystery of Sir Isaac Newton and the Toblerone: the Evidence of the One-Pound Note', Strand Magazine, lxxvi (1895), 631

C. Fudge: 'The Pleasures of the Tube: some Lesser-known, Instruments of the Northern Line', London Passenger Transport Board Yearbook 1978, 91

A. Windtreiber: An Inquiry into the Effects of Chocolate upon the Wind (diss., U. of Pennsylvania, Hershey, 1979)


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