The Wonderful Whistles of Oz


I mentioned in my post on the warp whistles in Super Mario Bros. 3 that there were some magic whistles in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, although as far as I know none of them summoned the tornado. One is the silver whistle that Dorothy uses to contact the Queen of the Field-Mice, and another is used by the Wicked Witch of the West to summon her wolves, crows, and bees. This is also described as silver, although whether it’s made of silver or just silver in color isn’t specified. One blast summons the wolves, two the crows, and three the bees. In Gili Bar-Hillel’s short story “The Woozy’s Tale,” Glinda explains that the animals originally served the wizard Krizzle Kroo, but Gayelette made them answer to her whistle, which the Wicked Witch later takes. There’s also the silver whistle in Ojo in Oz that summons Opodock. In Ozma, the Nome King turns the Tin Woodman into a whistle. It appears that all of these are whistles that produce only a single tone, like the kind around a gym teacher’s neck. The warp whistles in SMB3 are more like pennywhistles, I suppose.

I was trying to think if there were any musical instruments in the Oz series that have magical properties, but as common as that idea is, I couldn’t think of many. Ozoplaning has a small green trumpet full of cheer gas, which makes people cheerful. Singra’s Magical Musical Snuffbox in Wicked Witch answers questions in song form.

Ruth Plumly Thompson twice punned on the term “bandbox,” actually a name for a small wood or cardboard box for carrying small objects, in two different ways. In Silver Princess, Randy picks a bandbox in the Box Wood, and it plays music when the lid is lifted. Jinnicky has a bandbox in Yankee that contains an actual band, which grows to normal human size when let out of the box. I guess we don’t know whether the band members usually live inside of the box or are transported from somewhere else. It’s much the same question as with genie lamps. John R. Neill also used a bandbox in his Runaway and here it’s much like the Silver Princess one, only alive.

It ends up joining with Jack Pumpkinhead’s shoe orchestra. I suppose Number Nine‘s Whistlebreeches in Wonder City count as a musical instrument of sorts.

Thompson’s short story “The Fairy’s Silver Trumpet” involves a horn that a suitor must blow three notes on to win the hand of a fairy princess. Although not specifically written as an Oz story, it involves Sun Top Mountain, which Thompson would later place in Oz.

There are other instances in which music has a profound effect on someone or something. The man-eating plants in Patchwork Girl can be pacified with music. Sir Hokus discovers that singing annoys the sleepy Pokes, and Dorothy and the Cowardly Lion help him to escape the city by all singing together. He also puts a tree full of serpents to sleep by singing in Yellow Knight. The High Coco-Lorum of Thi gives orders to his servants in the form of music. The musically themed Tune Town in Gnome King has a piano instead of a gate, and access can be granted by playing the correct chords, which turn out to be the beginning of the Royal March of Oz.

If you sing out of tune there, you will be transported out of town. And there’s a rhythm-based lock on one of the doors in Badmannah’s cave in Yankee. Is there anything I’ve forgotten?

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This entry was posted in Characters, John R. Neill, L. Frank Baum, Magic, Magic Items, Mario, Music, Oz, Oz Authors, Rachel Cosgrove Payes, Ruth Plumly Thompson, Video Games and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to The Wonderful Whistles of Oz

  1. Glenn I says:

    Victor Columbia Edison?

  2. Between the Dorothy of Oz film and Oz the Great and Powerful I am hoping that the citizens of the Dainty China Country are becoming part of the Oz pantheon in the general publics mind

  3. Pingback: Sorcerous Servitude | VoVatia

  4. Pingback: Art with Brains and Courage | VoVatia

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