A Pedal That Rocks the World: The Wah-Wah (Video)

A documentary featuring rock stars and music pioneers explains how a simple device made electric guitars talk

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Since its invention in 1966, the wah-wah pedal has been instrumental in humanizing the sound of the guitar by altering the tone and frequency of its signal to mimic the human voice. "Cry Baby: The Pedal That Rocks The World" is a fascinating hour-long documentary that tells the story of the wah-wah pedal and its impact on contemporary music through the accounts of musicians, engineers, and historians. From its technical evolution to its role in enabling greater creative expression in music, the film features interviews with icons like Eddie Van Halen, Slash, Buddy Guy, Art Thompson, Eddie Kramer, Dweezil Zappa, and Jim Dunlop.

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"Cry Baby: The Pedal That Rocks The World" from Joey Tosi on Vimeo.

"It goes to the heart of what human communication is all about when it comes to transferring that communication to an instrument."
—Cry Baby: The Pedal That Rocks The World

In celebration of the film, Dunlop is giving away the crown jewel of Wahs: One of the world's only hand-assembled Swarovski-encrusted Cry Baby, signed by the man behind Cry Baby: Jim Dunlop himself.


This post also appears on Brain Pickings.
Images: Courtesy of Brain Pickings

Presented by

Maria Popova is the editor of Brain Pickings. She writes for Wired UK and GOOD, and is an MIT Futures of Entertainment Fellow.

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