I cannot understand the sentence below.

As a very small boy, when the Salvation Army missionaries had visited to minister to our Aboriginal crew, Dan had been fiercely attracted to the military appearance of their uniforms and had readily joined up, that he might bang his kettle and pipe in his boyish voice: (Rush oh!, shirley barrett, 2015)

In dictionary, the word bang (Verb) is defined as this:

Strike or put down (something) forcefully and noisily

What action does "bang sth in voice" mean? Is it a usual phrase? And why kettle? I tried to find some examples but I couldn't. Thank you for your help.

  • 8
    There are two separate idiomatic phrases: "bang his kettle [drum]", and "pipe [sing] in his boyish [treble] voice".
    – Mick
    Commented Nov 28, 2016 at 16:14
  • @Mick If you could add some sources and other examples of this use, You'd get my up-vote if you made this an answer. Commented Nov 29, 2016 at 16:57

2 Answers 2


The phrase "bang his kettle" is short for "bang his kettle drum" - which means, obviously, to play a kettle drum (a musical instrument), as bang can also mean (transitive verb, definitions 1 and 2)

to strike sharply; bump

to knock, hit, or thrust vigorously often with a sharp noise

Raucous, unskilled playing of a set of drums is often called "banging on the drums".

The word 'pipe' is used as a verb here, meaning to speak in a high voice (intransitive verb, definition 2a) so the phrase is best understood as:

...that he might (bang his kettle) and (pipe in his boyish voice)


I don't know about other countries, but in the U.S., in December, Salvation Army volunteers station themselves at grocery stores to ask for donations. They have a kettle (pot) where people put the donation money. Apparently in the book you quoted, the volunteers banged (hit) their kettles and called out certain set phrases to get people's attention. Dan was fantasizing about being such a volunteer. John is correct about the piping in the boyish voice part.

Here is an article from the Salvation Army website about the kettles: http://www.salvationarmyusa.org/usn/red-kettle-history

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