Music and the Dispel of Thoughts

Jew's harp music by Phons Bakx

 listen to CD-track 13: Jew's harp duet Bakx- Meijers
.wav 721 kB - 16 sec - stereo
listen to CD-track 18: Mahisu (.wav 543 kB -13 sec),
a Papua-man from Niugini "playing Jew's harp" on a living, buzzing sago-beetle (see photo above).

Photo frontcover: Papua Mahisu playing on a living woodbeetle (hear on track 18)
© 1963, R. McLennan, Mnt. Glorious - Australia


  ...Phons Bakx and friends are having fun, and there is much experimentation with the tonal sounds of the [Jew's] harp.... You're amazed at what sounds can be produced by this small instrument....This album shows his love for experimenting with Jew's harpsounds... Even non-players will get a buzz from this album.

Lindsay Porteous, Traditional Music Maker, Edinburgh


Music and the Dispel of Thoughts
part I

Phons Bakx and Musicians

Track 1-18 - time: 54'56


Phons Bakx

Enno Meijers

John Wright

André Houwing

Koen Kuijpers


Jules Bitter

Robert Bitter

Izz van Elk

(Orang Génggong)

Banty Rooster

Middelburgs Mondharp Ensemble


















Jew's harp, génggong

Jew's harp

Jew's harp

Jew's harp

Jew's harp

living woodbeetle

tin whistle, traverse flute

piano, harpsichord


kĕndang, ciblons, suling, bonang, reed, génggong

guitar, tuba, harmonica, drums, vocal

vocals, Jew's harps


The tracks

1. The First Duet (perfect fifth) - 3'07
Enno Meijers & Phons Bakx
2. Gan Aınm / Ríleanna Dubh Lınn - 2'04
J. & R. Bitter, J. Wright, E. Meijers, Ph. Bakx
3. Song for Folke - 3'09
John Wright & Phons Bakx
4. The Second Duet - 2'41
Enno Meijers & Phons Bakx
Ballu sa Trunfa - 2'13
Middelburgs Mondharp Ensemble
6. Afraltia - 2'29
André Houwing, Izz van Elk, Ph.
7. The Third Duet - 2'30
Enno Meijers & Phons Bakx
8. Steel Drivin' Man - 4'08
Banty Rooster & Phons Bakx
The Fourth Duet - 2'45
Enno Meijers & Phons Bakx

10. Da Mihi Manum - 2'12
J. & R. Bitter, E.Meijers, Ph Bakx
11. The Fifth Duet - 2'13
Enno Meijers & Phons Bakx
12. A Nennea - 3'26
Middelburgs Mondharp Ensemble
13. The Sixth Duet - 2'44
Enno Meijers & Phons Bakx
14. Di Sebaz - 6'37
Gengénggonggan (Orang Génggong)
15. Les Vieilles Guimbardes Qui Passent 4'13
John Wright & Phons Bakx
16. Geisterstunde II - 3'06
Peter Kersten & Phons Bakx
17. Solo Performance in Dodorama - 3'31
Koen Kuijpers (in memoriam)
18. Recital Sago-beetle - 1'49


Where on Bakx' first CD the Jew's harp was combined with other instruments, here in 10 of the 18 tracks the Jew's harp is presented in duet-form, moreover the most free of traditional lines. Bakx performed 2 duets with the well-known Jew's harp player John Wright from Paris; 1 with André Houwing (percussion by Izz van Elk); 1 with Peter Kersten; and 6 with Enno Meijers with whom Bakx has formed a durable Jew's harp-duo for many years. The latter duo chose experimental ways for their intervals between Jew's harps.

On this CD there is traditional music, and music on traditional instruments for another 6 tracks, all combined with Jew's harps: we'll hear 2 Irish (quick & slow) dances by Jules Bitter and Robert Bitter; 2 Sardinian folksongs by the legendary Middelburgs Jew's harp Ensemble from Bakx his hometown; 1 Afro-American 'old blues'-song by Banty Rooster from Utrecht; and 1 performance on Indonesian instruments by the group Genggénggonggan, at present known as Orang Génggong.

There remains 2 oddities in this CD-part: track 17 is the remembrance of Bakx' Jew's harp-pupil Koen Kuijpers, who died in the spring of 1998. He plays solo on Jew's harp on stage in Rotterdam. Track 18 is unique and rare: Mahisu, a Papua-man from Niugini "plays Jew's harp" on a living, buzzing beetle (see photo on very top of this page).


...Bakx is a master of the Jew's harp, and provides copious information about each of the songs he presents. The music he has selected spans many years, cultures and countries, with the Jew's harp as its constant. Bakx's careful documentation and painstaking playing makes this cd that most elusive of creatures, an accessible labor of academic love. After a few hours with this disc, I not only had an increased respect for the versatility of the Jew's harp - I also wanted to go to the music shop and get one. Good rock & roll has sold guitars for years, so why shouldn't the cd ''Music and the Dispel of Thoughts" sell a few Jew's harps?...For anyone fascinated by the nature of sound and its significance within cultural and sociological contexts, I recommend this disc most highly.

George Zahora, in: Splendid-E-zine, 1999


Music and the Dispel of Thoughts
part II

Jew's harp Mosaics

(compositions by Phons Bakx)

Track 19-26 - time: 21:02

Phons Bakx
Jew's harps, utété, clacking of steel, vasedrum, shaking poppies

(solo in multi-recordings, 1986 - 1987)


19. Jew's harp Mosaic # 19 - 4'06
20. Jew's harp Mosaic # 23 - 2'27
21. Jew's harp Mosaic # 7 - 2'15
22. Jew's harp Mosaic # 3 - 1'27
23. Jew's harp Mosaic # 6 - 2'50
24. Jew's harp Mosaic # 12 - 2'10
25. Jew's harp Mosaic # 16 - 2'33
26. Jew's harp Mosaic # 8 - 3'14

Go to "Jew's harp Mosaics", new CD 2004, with archive recordings of Phons Bakx 1986, 1987


....This cd aims to demonstrate that the Jew's harp is a serious instrument rather than just a toy, and it succeeds... The album's first 55 minutes presents Phons Bakx playing in different combinations with other musicians, from renowned Jew's harp players from all over the world like John Wright, to locally resident musicians with various backgrounds, including the acoustic blues group Banty Rooster and the brothers Robert & Jules Bitter.... The unusual combination of Irish traditional tunes and Jew's harp accompaniment make for a fascinating listening experience. So do the amazing duets with Enno Meijers...

Anja Beinroth, Folk World (CD Reviews), issue 12-12/99

The Jew's harp Mosaics

In Part II we meet Bakx' initiation days as a Jew's harp player (1986-1987) mingled with short soundcuts, e.g. the worknoises of Jew's harp makers from Norway and Austria, et cetera.

Main feature of his Jew's harp Mosaics (his own compositions) is the use of a multiple recording-system, which made possible that Phons Bakx dubbed his Jew's harp playing 4 or 5 times. With his 'Jew's harp Mosaics' he convinced in his initial days many a person that Jew's harps were not longer trifling knick-knacks, but musical instruments that could produce minute sounds of elegance.

In 'Jew's harp Mosaics # 3' Bakx played on a reconstructed, Jew's harp-like mouth instrument (utété) of grassy wood, of which the obsolete originals for the last time were in popular use at the Îles Marquises (Polynesia) at the end of the nineteenth century. Its sound evokes a kind of musique concrète : the spheres of a grass-like micro-cosmos inhabited by chirping insects. 

In the 'Jew's harp Mosaics' restlessness, chaos, but also space, contemplation and reveries are undoubtedly expressed in a dynamic way. It is minimal music: they all seem to be constructed by slowly changing patterns that rise into an adequate kind of music. Notwithstanding the Jew's harp as a folk-musical instrument, this music will sometimes more be appreciated as rock-music than as folk-music. This all makes the 'Jew's harp Mosaics' unequalled, and we may ask ourselves if such compositions for the Jew's harp were made and recorded on tape ever before.


CD-data :
© Phons Bakx & Musicians ♦ publisher: Antropodium ♦ ATP002-99PhB ♦ Offic. Reg. at Stemra, Amstelveen (NL) ♦ published on the 1st October 1999 ♦ place: Middelburg (NL) ♦ number of trax: 26 ♦ playingtime: 75'58" ♦ with booklet: 24 pag. ♦ text in 2 editions: Dutch and English (Nederlands en Engels) ♦ photographs: 17 black & white + 2 colored ♦ reduction price (shipping included): in USA $ 12 - euro 10,00

If you want to pay by bank-facilities you have to put on another
$ 7,50 or euro 7,50 because all the banks in Holland charge this amount of money for every transaction by cheque. It makes your acquisition more expensive. That is why it is in our opinion the best to put the amount of dollar- or euro-banknotes into an envelop and send them to:

for ordering by e-mail

PhonsBakx @ antropodium dot tweakdsl dot nl 


 to the CD: A Song for the Jew's harp, 1997