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J. Richard Haefer


Conch horn of the Aztec or Nahua peoples of central Mexico, and other pre-Contact cultures. It was called puuaqua in Tarascan and paatáotocuècheni or paniçatàopáni in Zapotecan. The Aztecs called this the instrument of the ‘Wind God Quetzalcoatl; he who breathes life into a void’. It was usually played in pairs, and the shell was about 15 to 20 cm long.

The tecciztli [tecziztli, tezizcatli] was a similar instrument made from the Strombus gigas shell (about 12 to 18 cm long) though examples of clay or bone have been found. It was a priest’s instrument played ceremonially with the quiquiztli and teponaztli to please the ‘Sun God’. Traditionally it was played at midnight to awaken the priests to prayers.

The quiquiztli, made from the larger Fasciolaria gigantea shell (30 cm long or longer), was used for signalling in battle as well as for priestly functions including the sacrificial flaying of men and before the death of slaves....



Nguyen Thuyet Phong



Malena Kuss

Set of three Afro-Cuban double-headed hourglass drums of Yoruba origin. Batá are the sacred instruments of the religious system of Ocha/Ifá (Santería). The largest and lowest-pitched drum, which carries the main oratorical role, is called iyá (‘mother’) because other drums are born from the sacred presence within it. The smallest and highest-pitched batá is known as okónkolo, a term denoting its size, among other names. The term itótele for the medium-size drum refers to the order in which it enters the rhythmic locution of patterns and strokes (toque), following the iyá. The batá ensemble retains the West African disposition of timbric functions that assigns virtuosic locutions to the lowest-pitched drum, while the higher-pitched instruments perform more stable and reiterative patterns.

Batá are the drums of Changó, the spirit-god of fire, lightning, thunder, war, dance, and music, but they are played for all the orichas (saints). The ceremonies in which ...




Béésh nasoolts’ iiłlgo  

David P. McAllester

Rattle consisting of small pieces of flint of ritually prescribed shapes and colours used by the Navajo people of the southwestern USA to accompany songs in the Flintway ceremony. The flints are cupped in both hands and shaken to produce a jingling sound. They symbolize the restoration of fractured or dislocated bones as well as the renewal of vitality in general....



Ferdinand J. de Hen



Alastair Dick

Very large metal kettledrum of Sind, Pakistan. It is played standing, with two sticks, as part of the ceremonial band naubat found at the shrines of some Sindi saints (e.g. that of Shah Abdul Latif at Bhitshah). ‘Bher’ doubtless derives from the old Indian drum name bherī, but it is different from that so described in medieval Indian texts....


Biblical instruments  

Joachim Braun

The various musical instruments mentioned in the Bible (Old and New Testaments). The nature and significance of the biblical instruments has been the subject of considerable discussion from the early Middle Ages onwards. The following article focusses on the meaning of the words as they appear in the original languages of the various biblical texts (Heb., Aramaic, Gk.), using archaeological evidence and other literary sources to establish as far as possible the identity of the individual terms; it also addresses the interpretation of other musical terminology in the Bible. (See also Jewish music, §II.)

References to particular biblical passages follow the Revised Standard Version and the abbreviation IAA is used for the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The controversy surrounding the identity and significance of the ‘biblical instruments’ derives from the complexity of the original source. Even the term itself is ambiguous, since it may denote the instruments of the period described by any given text of the Bible, those of the period and environment in which the written tradition originated, or those that have remained in the memory of society from a certain stage of the oral tradition. Furthermore, should a reference to an instrument be regarded as a theological symbol or a historical document? Must it be placed in the relevant context by archaeological finds before it may be regarded as concrete fact? It is possible to discuss the subject only if an interdisciplinary approach is adopted involving ‘new and processual archaeology’, recent studies of the Pentateuch, and modern archaeomusicology. Although the organological information provided by the biblical texts themselves is scanty, the social and symbolic context of the music can often be established quite precisely (see Kolari, ...


Bilo (i)  





Jan Stęszewski

revised by Zbigniew J. Przerembski

[mrëczk, mruczek] (Pol.: ‘grumble bass’)

Friction drum used in the Pomerania and Warmia regions of Poland. Formerly it was used in magic and annual folk rituals, mainly during Christmas and Shrovetide. Nowadays many folk ensembles use it to provide a rhythmic bass, and as a musical attribute of Kashubian cultural identity. The barrel-shaped body is about 25–30 cm tall and made of wooden staves, or sometimes a hollowed log. The bottom of the barrel is made of leather or wood with a centrally attached strand of horsehair or a metal chain that is rubbed rhythmically with wetted or rosined hands. A smaller version called the ...







Alastair Dick

revised by Andrew Alter


Small, shallow hourglass drum of Uttarakhand in northern India. Like many other hourglass drums in India, the ḍauṅr is associated with the god Shiva. For this reason it is often equated with the ḍamaru, though the instruments are of different sizes and are played differently. The ḍauṅr is usually found in the western area of Uttarakhand (Garhwal) where it is used almost exclusively for indoor shamanic rituals. It is about 16 cm tall and has a diameter of 20 cm at the heads and 13 cm at the waist; its body is made of copper, brass, or wood. The goatskin heads are lapped on hoops and braced by cotton V-lacings tightened at the waist with a cross-lacing. The bracing is not used to vary the tension of the heads during performance. The musician plays while seated, holding the instrument between his knees or under his leg; the right/upper face is struck with a curved stick, the left/lower with the hand and fingers. Thus the playing technique resembles that of the much larger ...


Decani and cantoris  

Nicholas Temperley

The two halves of the choir (in an architectural sense) in an English cathedral or a large church or chapel: decani is the south side, cantoris the north. The names mean ‘dean’s [side]’, ‘cantor’s [side]’, and refer to the two highest officials of the chapter of a medieval cathedral. The Cantor, or precentor, ranked immediately after the dean in secular cathedral establishments. The dean’s stall was at the west end of the choir, facing east, just to the south of the central aisle; the cantor’s was opposite, north of the aisle. For certain duties the choir (in a musical sense) was also divided into two equal halves. The singers on the dean’s side – decani – took the leading part one week, those on the cantor’s side – cantoris – the next; during the seasons of the three great festivals the alternation was daily. Psalms, canticles and hymns were sung in alternation between the two halves. Together with much other Latin terminology, the names survived the Reformation, and have been used ever since in cathedral music to signify the two halves of the choir....



Mireille Helffer

revised by Gert-Matthias Wegner and Simonne Bailey

Double-headed frame drum of Nepal, used by shamans in the Himalayan area. The wooden frame is about 20 cm deep and 30 to 50 cm in diameter. The heads, of goatskin, are secured by wooden hoops and laced with leather thongs in a V pattern. The drum contains rudrakshaya seeds that rattle when it is beaten. It is held by a wooden handle in the shape of a ritual dagger, carved and heavily decorated with cosmic symbols. The drum is required for therapeutic and divinatory rites performed by shamans of various ethnic groups. The shaman holds the handle of the drum in his left hand, with the frame of the drum level with his face, and strikes the outer head with an S-curved cane held in his right hand. In West Nepal a different shaman drum has the same name; this single-headed frame drum has a cross-shaped handle inside the frame and symbolic metal decorations attached to the frame....



Alan R. Thrasher

Bronze clapperless bells associated primarily with Chinese Buddhist temples. They are commonly called zhong, though properly fanzhong (‘Buddhist bells’). Most are large bells, with circular cross-section, moderately convex profile, and a dome-shaped crown typically smaller than the rim, which is often waved or scalloped. The fanzhong is suspended vertically from a heavy beam or frame by a decorated loop on its crown. It is struck by a thick, horizontally suspended post which is swung against the bell. Dating from about the 6th century ce or earlier, fanzhong of less than 1 metre tall gradually increased in size during the imperial period. A 14th-century fanzhong is more than 2 metres tall, with a rim diameter of 1.3 metres. The largest of all Chinese bells, an early 15th-century bell hung in the Beijing Bell Tower is about 7 metres tall, with a rim diameter of about 3 metres. It is inscribed with Buddhist sutras. Buddhist bells are used in signaling, marking times of the day and for worship purposes. (For bibliography see zhong.)...




Ganusov, Kashpir  

(fl Russia, mid-16th century). Russian bell and cannon founder. Of unknown origin, Ganusov might have come from Germany or the Grand Duchy of Lithuania to Moscow, where in the mid-16th century he worked at the court of Ivan the Terrible. A very large bell cast at the Moscow cannon foundry in 1550 has been tentatively credited to him; it has not survived. Presumably before 1564 he moved to Smolensk, where a cannon bearing his name or names of his apprentices survived into the 19th century. Ganusov is not named in documents after the late 1560s. His apprentices included Bogdan Andreytokhov, Yuri Bochkaryov, Semyon Dubinin (who moved to Pskov), Nikita Tupitsyn, and most famously Andrei Chokhov (Chekhov) (c1545–1629), whose castings in Moscow included many famous pieces of artillery and other massive bronze armaments as well as bells. Boris Godunov donated two of Chokov’s bells, cast in ...



J. Bryan Burton

[Goyaałé, Goyathlay, Goyahkla ]

(b New Mexico, 1829; d Fort Sill, OK, Feb 17, 1909). Native American instrument maker, singer, medicine man, prophet, and military leader. He is better known in Western history for his military leadership of Western Apache resistance to reservation life during the 1880s. Goyaałé (“One who yawns”) was given the name Geronimo after an attack on a Mexican village on St. Jerome’s day when terrified Mexican soldiers cried out “Jeronimo” appealing for help from St. Jerome. After his surrender he was held as a prisoner of war, first in St. Augustine, Florida, then in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, until his death. His celebrity was such that he often made public appearances, including at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, rode in Theodore Roosevelt’s inaugural parade in 1904, and wrote an autobiography with S.M. Barrett, the Oklahoma superintendent of education.

As a medicine man (Apache: diyan), Goyaałé performed Apache sacred ceremonies and rituals that required the knowledge of a vast repertoire of traditional songs sung during the ceremonies. A number of the songs he created were collected for Natalie Curtis’s ...