by Erik Deckers
American Reporter Humor Writer
September 19, 2003
DO THEY HAVE AIR ROADIES?
SYRACUSE, Ind. -- Ask any musician what the greatest musical instrument is, and you could easily start a riot. Some believe it's the piano, others say it's the guitar, and a few brave souls would answer the bagpipes. But while opinions vary wildly, everyone would at least agree that it's not the accordion.
But for non-musicians, everyone is in total agreement: the greatest musical invention ever is the air guitar.
If you've never seen an air guitar, let me explain (actually, let me first welcome you to the planet Earth): an air guitar is much like a real guitar, but without the guitar. You hold your hands as if holding a real guitar. Then you strum your right hand and move the fingers on your left hand just like a real guitarist would if he were drunk and had just been hit on the head.
The air guitar has been around for years, although many people think the pretend instrument is only a recent invention. It actually hails all the way back to the days of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. During his concerts and performances, thousands of screaming Austrian women would hurl their bustiers at the stage while the men would headbang, their powdered wigs flopping wildly, and everyone in the arena would play air harpsichord.
But it was Mozart's countryman, Franz Schubert, who invented the air guitar. Since Schubert was too poor to own a piano, he used a guitar to write his compositions. And during the especially lean times, when he pawned his guitar to pay for his other obsession ("Great Composers of the 18th Century" collectible plates), Schubert was forced to mime actual guitar playing.
This style was copied, mostly by drunken Austrian fraternity boys at "Schubert and the Blowfish" concerts, and the phenomenon grew from there.
In the 21st century, not only is air guitar a recognized instrument, there are honest-to-God air guitar competitions, including the Air Guitar World Championships (which you can see at www.airguitarworldchampionships.com). And if there's a world championship, there has to be national championships -- like the ones held in Australia, Austria, Finland, Norway, the United States, as well as The Netherlands and Belgium.
I swear I'm not making this up.
The 2002 Air Guitar World Champion was America's own David "C-Diddy" Jung, who brought home the hardware with his performance of Extreme's "Play With Me" and "Get Your Hands Off My Woman" by The Darkness.
Let me get this straight: it's no longer considered weird for people to pretend to play guitar at a concert while the real musicians jam onstage. Instead, there are competitions to determine the best pretend-guitar player in the world.
So why do people air jam? Do we have visions of air glory,with thousands of air fans all air screaming our names? Do we dream of female air groupies throwing their air bras onto the stage? Do we want people to think we're really musicians, and it's only because of a recent music injury that keeps us from being on that stage? Or do we play air guitar in the hopes of getting noticed by some big-shot music producer?
Big-Shot Music Producer: Hey kid, we're putting together a new big band -- bigger than the Beatles, Britney Spears, and Devo put together. We like the way you play air guitar, so we want you to be the front man for the new group. Here's a million dollars.
So why don't other professions inspire air jam groupies? Why don't air football players fake passing or being tackled? Are there any wannabe tv chefs who stare at imaginary cameras and explain the intricacies of microwaving chicken pot pies? And more importantly, why don't I have groupies who type on imaginary keyboards, grab their hair, and pretend they've got writer's block?
Maybe it's our long-time dreams of being musicians that move us to play air guitar, or even air drums. But an entire air jam band?
I remember going to a wedding where the groom, the best man, and several members of the wedding party -- from both sides of the aisle -- spent the final two hours of the dwindling reception putting on an air jam concert. I learned, during a lull in the air performance, that this group of friends would often spend Friday and Saturday nights in their college dormitory playing huge air jam concerts for hours at a time.
Looking back, I shouldn't have been surprised that two people who "often spent Friday and Saturday nights" playing pretend music for hours would find true love and marry each other.
Maybe the social subtleties of the Star Trek conventions were just too intimidating.