- 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 ...