Heritage Musical Spoons' Mathieu Veniere-Cyr at his NY NOW booth
They’re “the poor people’s instrument,” said Mathieu Veniere-Cyr Monday at his Heritage Musical Spoons exhibition booth at the winter NY NOW home/lifestyle/gift market trade show at New York’s Javits Center.
He was speaking of his line of wooden musical spoons, made by his father Richard Cyr in Quebec City since 1997.
“Who doesn’t have two spoons?” the younger Cyr continued. “They’re the most accessible instrument apart from stamping your feet.”
He stamped his feet rhythmically, then gripped a set of his display product and demonstrated it quite dexterously.
Heritage’s musical spoons are handmade out of highest quality Canadian maple, which according to Cyr, is hard and high-density, thereby offering optimal resonance. Much trial-and-error went into their design to achieve the right amount of flexibility in the “branch,” or stem of the spoon, as well as the best tone as determined by the size and depth of its “cavity,” or bowl--and thickness of the bowl itself.
The finished spoons, which are joined together at the handle, come in small, medium and large sizes, with small sounding the highest tone, and the large—or professional set--the lowest.
Cyr said that musical spoons have been part of the country for centuries, having been brought to French Canada from Europe.
“Everyone’s seen them!” he said, noting that wooden spoons, not the metal ones that are also used as percussion instruments in various folk music traditions, are more prevalent in Quebec, and can be frequently found at the commercial “sugar shack” establishments indigenous to the region.
Cyr also noted that other companies manufacture musical spoons, but mainly as a souvenir item rather than “proper musical instrument.” When one supplier ceased production, a fiddler friend of Richard Cyr, who knew he was a devoted wood craftsman, asked him to fill in.
Heritage Musical Spoons are now heard at hockey games as noisemakers, said Cyr, who himself plays a set to cheer his girlfriend on during intense ice canoe runs. He has also heard of resourceful hikers employing them in the Rockies to scare off grizzlies.
But Cyr also points to YouTube video star Abby the Spoon Lady, and especially Canadian percussionist Felix Munger, in whose hand Heritage product is a proper musical instrument indeed.
Heritage sold 15,000 sets of Musical Spoons last year, Cyr reported. Retailers who purchase 50 sets receive a free display unit, also created and built by Richard Cyr.
Each set of Heritage Musical Spoons comes with an instruction sheet. Additionally, video tutorials are available at the Heritage website.
“They make a great stocking stuffer,” concluded Cyr.
Mathieu Veniere-Cyr discusses his Heritage musical spoons and features a performance by Felix Munger