What Are Those Things Called? The Dapper Dans and Their Bizarre Instruments

July 2, 2021

Written by: Jim Smith

Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy Holiday Friends! And Happy Independence Day to those who celebrate!

Few things feel as American to me as Main Street USA, and when on Main Street, I always make a point to visit my favorite citizens, the Dapper Dans! Their harmonies are stamped in time, yet also timeless. They never fail to put a smile on my face.

Besides their beautiful voices, have you ever wondered about those bizarre instruments the Dapper Dans play with some of their songs? To me, they always feel like a combination of wind chimes and xylophones (minus the little wooden mallets).

Well, these things actually have a name. They are called Deagan Organ Chimes – patented by John Calhoun Deagan in 1900. Based on the Indonesian bamboo angklung, Deagan claimed his organ chimes were “universally conceded as being the greatest novelty instrument ever invented.”

The Deagan Organ Chimes were introduced to the Dapper Dans by Charles “Bub” Thomas, who was a founding member of the Dapper Dans at Magic Kingdom in 1971 (and he was a member of the Disneyland Dapper Dans prior to that). Thomas performed with the Magic Kingdom Dapper Dans for over 25 years.

Each member of the Dapper Dans holds/shakes/taps a different set of chimes – each with its own specific pitch range. Playing the full range of music for a song requires careful coordination among the group members, which the Dapper Dans always seem to do with the greatest of ease.

Have you ever tried one of these bizarre instruments? I would have loved to use one back in grade school!

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