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(b Antwerp, Belgium, 13 Feb 1928). Belgian organologist and museum curator. She studied at the University of Ghent from 1948 to 1952 and received the PhD (1957) with a dissertation on music at the Burgundian-Habsburg court in the Netherlands. She started her career in ...

Article

Allison A. Alcorn

(b Avington, PA, 14 May 1953). American maker of historical harps, lyres, and psalteries. Lewandowsi grew up surrounded by arts and crafts, and graduated from Sarah Lawrence College with a degree in philosophy and early music just as the early music movement in America was in full swing. While other historical instruments seemed in ready supply, early harps were not, and Lewandowski, largely self-taught, began making them herself in ...

Article

K.A. Gourlay

Anthropomorphic horn of the Bembe people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is always played as part of an ensemble that includes three smaller horns of the same type. These are differentiated according to size by names derived from family relationships. The mampongui-nguenbo as the largest is the father, the ...

Article

Laura Maes and Troy Rogers

Name of an ensemble of acoustic automatons invented and constructed since 1990 by Godfried-Willem Raes (b Ghent, 3 Jan 1952). The Logos Foundation, a contemporary music centre located in Ghent that was founded by Raes in 1968, is home to the more than 45 automatons that comprise the ensemble. It includes organ-like instruments, monophonic wind instruments, string instruments, percussion instruments, and noise generators. Most are automations of existing instruments, and many offer wider possibilities than their manual equivalents. Raes’s intention was not to replace performers, but to expand musical possibilities with machines that can outperform humans in speed, dynamic control, and a number of simultaneously sounding notes. Most of the instruments are tuned to 12-tone equal temperament, although some are tuned to equal tempered quartertones. The sirens robot and all the monophonic wind instruments can be tuned with 0.78125-cent precision and can thus be used with nearly any tuning system....

Article

(fl Barcelona, Spain, c1790–1825). Catalonian guitar maker, considered one of the most important luthiers of his period in Spain. He was probably a son of the luthier Francisco Matabosch, active in Barcelona during the second half of the 18th century. Although highly regarded by such performers as Dionisio Aguado and Fernando Sor (whose first guitar was reportedly built by Matabosch), he is survived by only one instrument (...

Article

Laurence Libin

Vehicle for exploring and expressing musical ideas and feelings through sound. Practically anything that is used to make sound can be employed in music, so the concept of a musical instrument embraces a very broad range of things, including, for purposes of this dictionary, the human body. Conventionally the term refers to implements specially designed for producing sound, but this definition is inadequate because unaltered natural objects as well as utensils meant for other tasks (nowadays including electronic communication devices) have been put to musical use since prehistoric times. It can be difficult to distinguish an ‘instrument’ from a practice of music-making; for example, on some islands in the north of Vanuatu and south of the Solomons, women standing in water hit the surface with their hands in various ways to produce different sounds and rhythms, a practice called ...

Article

Nolkin  

Jeremy Montagu

A sucked trumpet of the Mapuche people of south-central Chile. It is made from a long stem of a variety of thistle (Senecio otites) or occasionally the troltro (Valeriana viriscens) with an oxhorn bell attached with woollen thread (probably in pre-Hispanic times of coiled leaf or plaited work). The tube is from 1 to 1.5 metres long and extremely narrow, about 4 to 5 mm in diameter. The embouchure is cut to a V-shaped point so that it fits easily into a corner of the mouth. The sound is created by inhaling through vibrating lips and is therefore quiet, and the melodic phrases are short. It is used in shamanic or festive rituals....

Article

Laurence Libin

Apart from the dangers (cuts, burns, eye and muscle injury, dust inhalation, chemical toxicity, etc.) inherent in making instruments, playing and maintaining them also pose risks that belie the benign associations of music-making. When these risks are ignored, users and instrument technicians can suffer serious consequences. Musicians’ unions have drawn attention to health problems arising from performance conditions, and some medical doctors specialize in issues of concern to musicians; the Performing Arts Medical Association represents their interests in the USA. Physical therapists employ Alexander and Feldenkrais techniques among other corrective exercises aimed at improving performance functions. This article cites some typical occupational hazards, which range in severity from minor muscle strain to tooth displacement to permanently disabling accidents. For example, crushing injuries can result from unsafe moving of pianos, and a piano technician can lose an eye if a string breaks during restringing or tuning. Pipe organ technicians often work high within an organ’s case where, in old organs particularly, ladders, access boards, and pipe racks can give way, causing falls....

Article

Laurence Libin

Pure-tuned harmonium developed by the German physicist and music theorist Arthur Joachim von Oettingen (b Dorpat, Livonia, 28 March 1836; d Bensheim, Germany, 5 Sept 1920) and built by Schiedmayer in Stuttgart. An example from 1914 is in the Musikinstrumenten Museum, Staatliches Institut für Musikforschung, Berlin. Designed to sound pure 3rds, 4ths, and 5ths, it is based on an octave division into 53 (in some versions, 72) tones and has a complex multilayered but symmetrical keyboard similar to that of Bosanquet’s enharmonic harmonium. Oettingen studied astronomy and physics at the University of Dorpat and continued his education in Paris and Berlin. He was appointed a professor in Dorpat in ...

Article

Laurence Libin

Free-reed keyboard instrument built in 1845 by the Franciscan priest Peter Anton Singer (b Unterhäselgehr, Austria, 18 July 1810; d Salzburg, Austria, 25 Jan 1882). It has two manuals and 48 registers and was claimed to be capable of reproducing the sounds of a whole orchestra. It is displayed in the Peter Singer Museum at the Franciscan convent at Salzburg, where Singer was organist and choirmaster from ...

Article

Aerophone in which enclosed air is set briefly into vibration by a sudden percussive impulse, as when the end of a tube or the mouth of a vessel is slapped by the palm of a hand, a paddle, or the sole of a shoe (as for the slap tube and kimkim), or the open end of a tube is struck against the ground (as for the stamping tube). The idiophonic sound of the impact itself is secondary. The pitch can often be controlled by shading with the hand the open, unstruck end of a tube or a secondary hole in a vessel. Explosive aerophones are generally without definite pitch and are seldom used in music, although cannon fire has been used dramatically in certain programmatic orchestral works, notably Tchaikovsky’s ...

Article

Laurence Libin

(b Cambridge, MA, 8 March 1945). American ceramist, musician, and instrument maker. She holds a BA in English from the University of California at Berkeley and New York University (1967) and an MA in psychology from Pepperdine University (1972), but is largely self-taught in ceramic art. Her publications on musical acoustics and prehispanic ceramic instruments are based primarily on original research on mesoamerican examples, including work in Mexico supported by the National Endowment for the Arts (...

Article

Laurence Libin and Jessica L. Wood

Term introduced in the 20th century for instruments that had become obsolete but later were reintroduced as copies based on historical models. Some 19th-century antiquarians essayed earlier music on harpsichords, lutes, viols, recorders, and other types that had fallen out of production, for example in concerts organized by François-Joseph Fétis at the Paris Conservatoire from the mid-1830s, by Prince Albert at the court of Queen Victoria in ...

Article

Laurence Libin

Audible signal indicating an incoming call on a telephone, iPhone, or similar device. Landline telephones formerly included two small hemispherical bells rung rapidly in alternation by a clapper driven by a high-impedance electromagnet at a fixed frequency; such mechanical systems still operate in many fixed (not mobile) telephones, although the ringing current voltage might be transmitted digitally over most of its distance. Other fixed telephones use line voltage to produce a beeping, chirping, warbling, or other ring tone electronically. Mobile devices, being fully digital, communicate with their cell base station through protocols that allow ring tones to be selected from thousands of available options....

Article

Laurence Libin

Term for an inexpensive electronic keyboard built into a thin flexible membrane that can be rolled up and easily carried. Models of different sizes and capabilities typically encompass three to five octaves of near-normal-size flat keys and incorporate functions such as selectable tone qualities and rhythmic patterns, demo tunes, loudness control, metronome beat, vibrato, sustain, digital display, and recording and playback options. Some models can play MIDI files. Power is provided by batteries or by external sources such as a computer’s USB port. Sound is produced by a small internal loudspeaker or headphones, or the playing can be channelled through a computer, home audio system, or other device. While the least expensive roll-up pianos can be considered toys, better ones can be useful for practicing, composing, and entertainment when other keyboard instruments are not available....

Article

Susan E. Thompson

(b Williamsburgh, MA, 30 April 1866; d Paris, France, 9 April 1928). American humanitarian, philanthropist, and instrument collector. A daughter of the silk manufacturer William Skinner, she attended the Vassar College Preparatory School and Vassar College (Class of 1887), where her interest in music was fostered. In adulthood, she divided her time between homes in Holyoke, Massachusetts, and New York City, becoming a patron of the arts and a benefactor of civic projects. In ...

Article

Status  

Laurence Libin

Class ranking of instruments, high to low, in a society’s estimation. The relative position of a type of instrument must be distinguished from the status accorded a singular example. An ordinary guitar once owned by Elvis Presley would be elevated among his fans for its provenance alone. Usually an instrument’s social status seems inseparable from the status of its players and music. For example, the 18th-century hurdy-gurdy was held in low repute by the elite as a clumsy device for grinding out folk tunes by itinerant beggars, but refined models created for Arcadian ladies were considered fashionable and engendered a charming repertory. Baroque bagpipes display the same dichotomy; brash-sounding folk types with naked bags were portrayed as vulgar, even phallic, while elegant musettes taken up by aristocrats were esteemed accordingly. On the other hand, Baroque trumpets and kettledrums used in the service of persons and institutions of high estate as sounding symbols of their eminence were played by subordinates who were often hardly more than servants. Similarly, the church organ, regarded by Mozart as the ‘king of all instruments’ and often a symbol of civic pride, was commonly played by a humble schoolmaster. Thus, an instrument type does not automatically confer its status on its player and vice versa....

Article

Trumpet-like instrument played by sucking rather than blowing air through the player’s lips to cause them to vibrate. The instruments vary from animal horns and conical coiled tubes of bark to long wooden tubes, some cylindrical, others expanding similarly to alphorns. The sound is generally quiet, and the pitches are those of the overtone series. Sucked trumpets have been used from Manchuria and Siberia to South America as animal calls and in shamanic rituals; musical performances have also been reported. The term ...

Article

Christopher Brodersen

(b Montreal, Quebec, 9 Feb 1952). American oboist and maker of early oboes, based in Eugene, Oregon. She studied modern oboe with Alan Vogel at the California Institute of the Arts (1970–75) and privately with Marc Lifschey (1971–3). Her Baroque oboe teachers included Ku Ebbinge and Stephen Hammer. She served as an adjunct instructor of Baroque oboe at the University of Southern California School of Music. Taylor began making Baroque oboes in ...

Article

Sally Sanford

Technique for producing sound by pressing the tip of the tongue against the superior alveolar ridge with the mouth open and bringing the tongue down, thus creating a click. Pitch can be varied by adjusting the length of the phonatory tube by pursing the lips, by lifting the palate, and by making other small opening and closing adjustments in the mouth. Recognizable tunes can be clicked. Dynamics can also vary, principally due to the amount of pressure in the tongue tip and the forcefulness with which it is pulled away from the alveolar ridge. Tongue clicks occur in many African languages, Mongolian shamanism, and various pop, jazz, and scat styles associated, for example, with singers such as Al Jarreau, Janet Lawson, and Miriam Makeba. Karlheinz Stockhausen called for tongue-clicking in ...