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Article

The systematic study of bells (Lat. campana), especially large hanging bells. The field embraces bell design, manufacture and tuning, hanging and methods of sounding, performance and repertoire, and the history and traditions of bells in their many functions as signal and apotropaic devices, ritual implements, musical instruments (individually and grouped as chimes, carillons, etc.), symbols, and other aspects. In a more limited sense, campanology denotes the study of bell ringing....

Article

Laurence Libin

Practice of design to optimize safety, comfort, and efficiency in the interaction between player and instrument. Many instruments are physically awkward to play and place unusual demands on the human body. Long periods of practising and performing under pressure exacerbate physical problems caused by unnatural postures, repetitive stresses on joints, extreme muscle tension, and displacement of fingers, shoulders, neck, and spine. As a result, especially when poorly trained, players of certain instruments can develop calluses, bruises, misaligned teeth, tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and more serious injuries that, over time, impair health and performance ability....

Article

Sally Sanford

Technique of body percussion. A one-hand snap is produced when the pad of the middle finger with a stiffened distal interphalangeal joint is pressed firmly against the tip of the thumb and the thumb is then suddenly moved outwards, causing the pressing finger to snap against the ball of the thumb (the thenar eminence). In two-handed snapping, the thumb and third finger of one hand grasp the top and bottom of the tip of an inwardly pressing finger of the other hand and then suddenly pull away, causing the released finger to snap downwards. The loudest finger snap has been measured at 108 dB. Rhythmic finger snapping occurs in many genres including folk, theatrical, rock, jazz, modern, and non-Western musics, often to accompany singing or dancing. Bernstein called for finger snapping in ...

Article

Laurence Libin

Term used loosely for a sound-producing or sound-modifying implement made of something either occurring in nature or originally fashioned for another purpose. For a primate example, orangutans in Borneo hold bunches of leaves before their lips to lower the pitch of warning calls. Tool-using hominids no doubt deliberately made or altered sounds with natural objects such as hollow tree trunks, canes and bones, empty shells and sonorous stones, either in their as-found state or minimally crafted. Echoic caves might have been exploited as resonators just as modern street musicians select acoustically advantageous locations. Motivated by curiosity or poverty, human adults and children have always made ingenious instruments from discarded containers, cooking utensils, cracked bones, and other refuse as well as from handy animal and plant materials such as conches, turtle shells, dry gourds, horns, and bamboo and woody tubes; thus local environments influence artificial sound production at a basic level. For example, the Spanish ...

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

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

Imitation or representation of animal forms in instrument design. Included under this heading is anthropomorphism, referring to human body forms. Zoomorphism appears in all areas of material culture, but sound adds an important dimension to the practice. Musical instruments of many kinds can be made to resemble animals or humans, or parts of them. These forms serve decorative, symbolic, magical, acoustical, structural, and other purposes. Worldwide since prehistory, many instruments, especially those used in rituals, have been constructed of animal parts or whole animals, or made in the shapes of animals, deities, or monsters whose ‘voices’ and powers the instruments evoke. Animal components such as hollowed horns, bones, and shells lend themselves readily to instrument fabrication, so it is not surprising that recognizable cattle and goat horns (the latter for the ...

Article

Herbert Heyde

By ‘makers’ marks’ is meant here the practice of identifying the makers of Western instruments by means of marks, labels, brands, inscriptions, and other legible indications on the instruments. Marks of ownership and technical markings (such as serial and batch numbers) are not considered here....

Article

Byrgy  

Timo Leisiö

Manchu-Tungusic word used in various forms (purgu, abyrga, syynpyrgyzy, amyrga) by several Turkic populations for a lip-vibrated aerophone played by inhalation. Three forms are known: a tube of alder or willow or a long hollow stalk of a vascular plant or bamboo; a coiled roll of bark; and a length of tree trunk or branch, split, hollowed, and reunited like an alphorn. Whereas with blown trumpets the lips of a player vibrate outward, with the byrgy the lips vibrate inward, producing a relatively quiet sound. Both the Khanty wooden byrgy from West Siberia and the similar Karagas-Turkic wooden byrgy from Central Siberia have an integral carved mouthpiece. These examples are about 80 cm long and 4 to 6 cm in maximum diameter, average among the wooden byrgys. The origins of the byrgy are unknown, but it might have been used since antiquity by Ugric, Turkic, Tungusic, and Mongolian hunters to lure big game (elk, deer, etc.), and might have been brought west from Manchuria mainly by Turkic peoples, eventually reaching the Komis and the Udmurts in Russia. Types found in the Americas could have originated independently. The coiled bark form was used by Canadian Cree hunters. Instruments made of a vascular plant stalk were also used by shamans in central Mexico, by the Chiriguanos of Paraguay, and by the Mapuches of Chile, who added a cow-horn bell to theirs...

Article

Laurence Libin

Trademarked name for a novel tangent piano, introduced in 2009, that allows microtonal tuning before and during performance. It was conceived and patented by the British composer and hammer dulcimer player Geoff Smith and developed and built by Christopher J. Barlow in Somerset, England. The prototype resembles structurally an early 19th-century Viennese wood-framed grand piano with straight bichord stringing and a conventional keyboard encompassing five octaves and a 3rd (...

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

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

Sally Sanford

Unvoiced vocalization technique involving a slight adduction of the vocal folds but not enough to create pitch, while still using the articulation of normal speech. Activity in the abductor muscles (the posterior cricoarytenoid) is increased in order to prevent vocal fold vibration. There is a smaller supralaryngeal aperture than in speech, creating constriction in the larynx....

Article

Haptics  

Anne Beetem Acker, Laurence Libin and Alan G. Woolley

Scientific study of perception and manipulation of objects through touch and proprioception, usually for control purposes. As it relates to musical instruments, haptics considers the sensory and mechanical interaction between performers and acoustic, digital, or virtual instruments. Skilled instrumentalists demonstrate significantly greater tactile sensitivity and faster response time than members of the general population. Vibrations, acoustic response, and feedback forces inform players about an instrument’s state, speeding learning and improving control. Researchers try to measure feedback forces and determine which can be perceived and which are important to a player’s sense of control and expressivity. Haptics considers the complete circuit from the moment a player engages an activating component of an instrument until the interaction ceases. This consideration extends to a sequence of such events as the instrument’s mechanisms and player repeatedly respond to each other. These interactions can be termed ‘gestures’ and the input device (such as a keyboard) the ‘gesture controller.’...

Article

Buzzers  

Jeremy Montagu

Vibrating elements added to instruments to ‘sweeten’, distort, amplify, enrich, or extend their sound. These accessories take many forms. For example, a buzzing membrane, usually made of the internal skin of a bamboo stem, covers an extra hole between the embouchure and the fingerholes of many Chinese and southeast Asian flutes. Some Chinese notched flutes have holes covered by a vibrating membrane in the almost-closed upper end. A vibrating membrane covers a hole in the side of resonators of many African and Latin American xylophones. Some drums, especially in Central Africa, have a hole in the side of the body in which is inserted a short section of gourd with a membrane covering the outer end. A vibrating membrane over one end or over a hole in the side of a tube that is sung into is widely used to disguise a singer’s voice, in some cultures turning it into the voice of a spirit or a god. Artificial membrane materials used nowadays include cigarette papers and scraps of plastic bags....

Article

(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

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

Edmond T. Johnson

(b Memphis, TN, 17 June 1957). American artist, composer, performer, and instrument inventor best known for inventing the Long String Instrument. Originally interested in visual and performance art, Fullman attended the Kansas City Art Institute where she began to incorporate sound into her works, at first through the manipulation of magnetic tape. Her first major work was the ...

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

Hybrid  

Laurence Libin

Instrument that combines in one unit essential features of two or more different instruments. Produced since the Renaissance if not earlier, hybrids can offer unusual performance capabilities, although many have been created only for novelty purposes, for reasons of economy and convenience, or to demonstrate their makers’ ingenuity. Modern examples include the unique Bassoforte (incorporating parts of an electric bass guitar and a piano) and Experibass (assembled from parts of various bowed instruments) built by the composer Diego Stocco for his own use....