Boom Monkey

For Christmas, Misty’s mom got me a set of boomwhackers. They’re pitched plastic tubes — think handbells for people too nerdy to play handbells. After I got them, I had fun playing various simple songs for Eli. Then I started wondering: could I do something more complex with them?

The result, through a chain of reasoning I will not attempt to reproduce: Boom Monkey, a cover of Jonathan Coulton’s Code Monkey. The vocals are his; I did the arrangement and played the instruments, where by “instruments” I mean “boomwhackers and a shaker”. Boom Monkey is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 US license. You can either download the mp3 or listen to it below.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Update: By request, I’ve made a separate instrumental version of the song.



  1. on July 23, 2008 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

    This is wonderful! I can’t wait to hear what you do next. 🙂

  2. on July 23, 2008 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

    Thanks! If only it was playable live by fewer than, oh, ten people.

  3. Peter Alway
    on July 23, 2008 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

    Wow! This is the first time I’ve ever heard boomwhackers played seriously as a musical instrument instead of as an educational exercise. A good reminder that in the hands of the right musician, any instrument, no matter how humble or toylike, can produce fine music.

  4. on July 23, 2008 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

    Wow, thanks, Peter! Have you heard any of what Plastic Musik did with boomwhackers? They did live performances of songs using boomwhackers. Their rendition of Axel F ( does my 80s synth heart good.

  5. Mumsy
    on July 24, 2008 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    The christmas present lives on…..that was great!

  6. marieDee
    on July 24, 2008 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    It’s great! Methinks I envisioned you all blue…….????

  7. starlady
    on July 24, 2008 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    Pleeeeeeeeeeeease bring this to the drum circle at ‘con! 🙂

  8. Joyous
    on July 24, 2008 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    *blink* Stephen, you never fail to impress me. So, big deal, you’re a rocket scientist, whatever. But now it turns out you’re a percussionist? And a music arranger? Good lord, what next, a video editor? Oh, wait…

  9. on July 24, 2008 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    I’ll see if I can’t get this stupid connection to play the audio… but I wanted to comment that I’m quite familiar with Boomwhackers. Our handbell group has a two-octave set of them. My director’s been after mee to write a piece for handbells and boomwhackers.

  10. on July 24, 2008 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    starlady, now I have evil thoughts of trying to put an actual band together to play this live.

    Joyce, this is what comes from some fifteen years of piano lessons, jazz trombone, and music theory. I can’t really compose to save my life, but give me a set of chords and I can go to town. Give me a set of chords and about six months of practice and I might could do it live again!

  11. on July 24, 2008 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    Joyce: He’s also pretty good with a bowstaff.

  12. abovenyquist
    on July 24, 2008 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    I just played it for Z. He loved it and smiles and made baby noises and such!
    (I loved it too.)

  13. Lisa
    on July 24, 2008 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

    This one has got to make the rounds at work! 🙂
    Loved it!

  14. on July 24, 2008 at 10:38 pm | Permalink

    Okay, Stephen … so how did you play all this? I take it that you arranged it so you could play stuff in small bursts, and then you spliced it all together? If you ever wanted to work this out live, well, you know I’m a handbell nerd. 😉

  15. on July 25, 2008 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    I recorded each individual boomwhacker and used the individual sounds as samples. I’ve only got a one-octave diatonic set, so I had to do some after-the-fact pitch shifting to get the range I needed.

  16. on July 25, 2008 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    Aha! That makes a lot of sense. You functionally turned boomwhackers into a MIDI instrument. Clever!

  17. Danielle
    on July 26, 2008 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    Okay, boomwhackers are GOOD! Love that! And the link to Plastic Musik was also appreciated. Wow! Of course you realize I’m telling my mom about you having cool-sounding percussion instruments, right???

  18. Code Monkey Advice
    on August 5, 2009 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

    You know, very few songs have had the effect that this one had had on me. Nothing like having your life summarized in a few minutes, eh?

    Your version is amazing and, since I had never even heard of boomwhackers prior to this, you have also made a strong point for the usefulness of something that most regard as a toy. Awesome.

    I can’t wait to get my full set and begin playing with them. This is all your fault, you know that, right? 🙂

    Thanks for everything.

  19. on August 6, 2009 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    Thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed this rendition. I’ve had a lot of fun with my set of Boomwhackers overall.

2 Trackbacks

  1. By Code Monkey Music Video (as seen on Dragon*Con TV) on October 2, 2008 at 11:24 pm

    […] . The remix, which is also available under a Creative Commons license, is available from… . More videos available at […]

  2. By Too nerdy for handbells | Pete Ashton on January 1, 2009 at 3:53 am

    […] I came across these wonders while following a v. sirius train of thought that brought me to Stephen Granade’s cover of Code Monkey (and credit to him for “too nerdy for handbells”) which, to ensure you actually listen […]