Batting for music
Around the world, Jamaican people are known for their ingenuity, style, music, intellectual capacity, sportsmanship, and creativity. When it comes to science and technology, many have put Jamaica on the map, from creating a disease-resistant papaya to a very affordable prosthetic leg.
However, while many inventions coming out of this little island gain worldwide recognition, some remain a little less known. One such invention is the ‘One Love – Golden Guitar, also named the ‘Bat Guitar’, Michael C. Plummer inventor and maker of the instrument. The guitar is made from the body of a cricket bat and the neck and fret board of an acoustic guitar. The shaker is made from a cricket ball attached to a wooden handle.
As the image shows, the instruments are surrounded by numerous bodies of text, all of which serve to explain the various facets and symbolism of the instrument. The text was placed to help the viewer understand the importance of such a creation. Plummer explains that the name of the instrument was derived from Bob Marley’s song Small Axe. The reason that this name was chosen is because according to Plummer, it represents the legendary reggae icon Bob Marley and former Jamaican cricketer Courtney Walsh as well as other forerunners who have not only helped to place Jamaica on the world map, but who contributed positively to the development and achievements of this small-island state.
Plummer goes on to explain that these instruments were made under the ‘C-Catch’ Collection, which is a project that integrates music and sports. The term ‘C-Catch’ stands for Creating a Cultural Awareness Through our Cultural Heritage and Creating a Cricket Awareness Through Courtney’s Hallmark. The ‘C’ represents the ‘C’ cord and ‘C’ notes in music, and the CATCH represents the catching of the cricket ball in the game of cricket.
Behind the instruments is a large circle that encapsulates smaller circles. Plummer explains that this circle represents the chromatic scale as well as a cricket ball. The chromatic scale represents Bob Marley, and the cricket ball represents Courtney “Cuddy” Walsh in the field of sports. The 12 sections in the circle are representative of all the notes in the chromatic scale as well as the equation of Courtney’s Hallmark in breaking the precious record in the test Cricket wicket taking, which is 4+3+5=12. The wheel within a wheel represents the integration of music and sports, and as a universal symbol of unity and echoes Bob Marley’s song One Love one Heart. The rattle represents Curtly Ambrose and his contribution to the game of cricket. The rattle represents the cricket ball and the handle of the rattle represents the cricket bails. The instrument is also a tribute to his induction in the 400-wicket taking club. Plummer states that the rattle also represents Jamaica’s artistic expression in musical instruments symbolism from our African culture in the Caribbean.
According to Plummer, The bat Guitar is a musical instrument and can be played. It can also be used as a teaching aid in creating awareness about the contributions of our cricketers and musicians. This instrument was donated by Michael Plummer in February 2000.
- Information compiled by Sharifa Balfour, assistant curator, National Museum Jamaica, Institute of Jamaica.