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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....



K.A. Gourlay

revised by F.J. de Hen


Bullroarer of the Kuma of the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. It consists of a slightly concave ellipsoidal piece of wood measuring 30 × 10 cm along the axes. The instrument is whirled by a cord attached to one end and the sound produced is said to resemble the growling of a leopard. The bullroarer has associations with spirit voices and secret ceremonies such as circumcision, and has restrictions against women and non-initiates seeing it, as is customary for other bullroarers of the Congo. The varied names collected by de Hen suggest an onomatopoeic derivation, for example, the Adoi, Amanga, Andebogo and Andowi kundrukundru, Aimed kunzukunzu, Bagbwa and Mamvu egburuburu and arumvurumvu, and Bangba and Mayogo mbirimbiri. This pattern is not always followed, as with the Mbole inano, Nyali upa and Zande gilingwa.

F.J. de Hen: Beitrag zur Kenntnis der Musikinstrumente aus Belgisch Kongo und Ruanda-Urundi (Tervuren, 1960), 171ff...


John M. Schechter

revised by J. Richard Haefer

(Sp.: mocha, ‘to cut’)

An ensemble of gourd (puro) trumpets of various sizes, used in the Chota river valley of Imbabura and Carchi provinces of Ecuador. Formed in the late 19th century by Afro-Ecuadorians without access to Western military band instruments, the ensemble includes several puros (calabazas) and pencos (cabuyos) along with other instruments. Puros, about 30 to 60 cm long, are made by cutting a rectangular blowhole near the stem end of a dried gourd and opening the distal end to form a sort of bell. Various sizes provide lead, alto, and tenor ranges. Pencos are made of hollow agave stems about 30 cm long and 7 cm in diameter, with a blowhole cut near one end on a side. The similar chile frito, an ensemble of central Guerrero, Mexico, consists of imitation band instruments made of assembled sections of gourds.

C.A. Coba Andrade: ‘Instrumentos musicales ecuatorianos’, ...



Ferdinand J. de Hen



Margaret J. Kartomi

revised by Andrew C. McGraw

[bansi, bangsing, bengsi, bangsil, bahgseli, bangsiq]

Bamboo flute common in ancient Java and found nowadays in many parts of Indonesia and Malaysia. It exists as a duct flute in Minangkabau, Gayo and Alas (bangsi buluh), Siak (bansi), Halmahera (bangsil), Central Sulawesi (basing-basing), and in North Sulawesi as part of the orkes ensemble; as a ring flute in Minangkabau, Gayo, coastal Aceh, Jambi, North Sulawesi, Sangsihe, South Sulawesi, South Sumatra, West Kalimantan (bangsi), Tidore (bangseli), and Alas (bangsi buluh); as a transverse flute in Sulawesi and West Java (bangsi or bangsing); as a rice-straw flute in Alas (bangsi ngale); and as a nose flute in Semang areas of the Malay Peninsula (bangsi). In Luzon, southern Philippines, the bangsiq of the Hanunoo and the bansi of the Negrito in Bataan is an external duct flute. In the Alas area of Aceh, the ring flute is about 30–40 cm long and 3 cm in diameter. It has five or six fingerholes and a thumbhole. Below its top end there are two small holes covered with dried coconut leaf. It is played either solo by a male performer or with a ...


Geneviève Dournon


End-blown trumpet of Rajasthan, north India. It is made of a brass tube about 168 cm long: one part, of cylindrical bore, is bent back in a double U shape; the other, which extends it, widens gradually and terminates in a wide, open bulbous bell shaped like a ‘barbed dish’. It is decorated with engraved or painted floral motifs. In central Rajasthan it is played principally by professional musicians, the ...




Vasil S. Tole

(b Përmet, Albania, May 2, 1929; d Përmet, Jan 26, 2014). Albanian folk music performer. A clarinettist and vocalist, nicknamed ‘Përmeti’s nightingale’, founder of the instrumental iso-polyphonic group (saze ensemble) in the Southern town of Përmet (1944–2004). At a young age, he showed a special ability to design and make instruments. He was taught to play the lute and the clarinet by the saze masters in the city of Korçë. Then his family returned to Përmet, where he joined the saze of Vangjel Leskoviku (1944). At Përmet, he organized his own saze and participated in the Folk Music Festival in Tirane (1952), where he was awarded the First Prize for the best folk clarinettist. His saze was composed of a clarinet, two lutes, two accordions, a frame drum, and a violin. The saze played instruments and sang at the same time. He is a composer of songs, clarinet ...



Ferdinand J. de Hen


Bas (i)  

revised by Margaret J. Kartomi and Mayco A. Santaella

Bamboo trumpet of the Toraja people in the province of South Sulawesi, Indonesia. It comprises a forward-projecting mouthpipe (blown directly, without mouthpiece) about 20 cm long and 1 cm in diameter, inserted and sealed with wax to a downward section about 9 cm by 1 cm, this connected to a horizontal section, and this to the main, vertical tube, 36 cm long and 3 cm in diameter, closed by a node at its base. The instrument is reinforced by a horizontal bamboo beam near the top of the main tube and by rattan string wound around the joints. These measurements are for the smallest bas; the largest is about 135 cm in overall tube length. It produces a single low-pitched tone. Various sizes of bas provide the main harmonic element in the Bas-suling ensemble. A similar trumpet played in the orkes bambu metalu of Minahasa, North Sulawesi, is called overton...


Alastair Dick and Geneviève Dournon

[bansi, bā̃slī]

Term in the north Indian languages for flutes of different types (ba ̄̃s: ‘bamboo’).

In the eastern regions of the subcontinent—Bengal, Orissa, Assam, and so on (eastern India and Bangladesh)—ba ̄̃sī (here pronounced ba ̄̃shi) commonly denotes a transverse flute, mostly of bamboo, which abounds in the area. The most usual type is stopped by a natural node at one end, and has a simple lateral mouth-hole and a number of fingerholes. Sizes vary greatly, but the typical rustic flute is fairly small; large versions are found especially in Bangladesh. Flutes of the tribal peoples of the region include the tirāyu, tirio, rutu, and murlī. In Orissa the duct flute is also termed ba ̄̃sī (dobandī ba ̄̃sī, ekbandī ba ̄̃sī).

In the Raipur and Bilaspur districts of Madhya Pradesh (central India), ba ̄̃sī denotes an end-blown duct flute. The bamboo tube, 40 cm long, has five fingerholes and a thumbhole. The duct at the upper end consists of a plug of wax partly blocking off the bore, which causes the air to strike the sharp edge of a small opening made in the wall. The opening is partly covered by a slip of bamboo bark which conducts the air current in the correct direction. Like the ...


Geneviève Dournon and Mireille Helffer

[bāṃsurĩ, bānsurī, bānsrī, bā̃surī bā̃sī]

North Indian term for flutes of various types, one of many words deriving from Sanskrit va ṃśa and new Indo-Aryan ba ̄̃s, ‘bamboo flute’. The ba ̄̃surī played by the Rawat shepherds of Raipur district, Madhya Pradesh, central India, is a double duct flute consisting of two bamboo (or plastic) pipes about 53 cm long; one is a melody pipe with five fingerholes and the other a drone. A duct, similar to that of the Rawat Ba ̄̃sī, is formed by a block inserted at the upper end of each pipe. The two pipes are bound together at their upper ends so that they can be blown simultaneously, but diverge below; hence they are also called dandha ba ̄̃sī, ‘joined flute’. The instrument is played with circular breathing. For the large transverse flute ba ̄̃surī used in Hindustani or north Indian classical music, see Vaṃśa.

The ba ̄̃surī of the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal is a transverse flute made of a turned wooden tube, with six fingerholes at the front and one thumbhole at the back. It can be decorated with carvings and silver inlays. It is played in groups by Newar farmers in procession and to accompany dance, lifecycle, and other rituals. ...


Natalie M. Webber

Small cane flute of Sri Lanka. It occurs in various sizes and is made from the ba ṭa reed, found throughout the island. The instrument, known occasionally as vasdanḍa, is often side-blown (arāta); there are six or, less often, seven fingerholes. The pipe is always stopped and varies in length from 23 to 56 cm. These flutes are occasionally lacquered but are far more often plain or polished. Although made in Sri Lanka they resemble closely the side-blown flute of south India and are often used for playing Carnatic music....



Gerhad Kubik

Stamped aerophone of the Khoisan and !Kung people of South Africa and Angola. Three gourds of the Strychnos spinosa plant, open at both ends, are fastened end to end with black wax to form a tube. The bavugu is stamped on the player’s left thigh and the upper end is either hit with the right hand or covered more or less with it to change the pitch....



Alan R. Thrasher

Free-reed aerophone of the Miao (Hmong), Dai, Yi, Hani, and other minority cultures of southwestern China. Bawu is a Chinese name believed to be borrowed from Miao language; local names include bi (Dai), meiba (Hani), and jifeili (Yi). The Thai pī saw is a related instrument. The bawu is constructed from a tube of bamboo about 30 cm or longer, closed at the blowing end by a natural node, open at the bottom. Near the closed end a small rectangular opening is carved through the side of the bamboo and a free reed of bamboo or bronze secured over the opening—traditionally with beeswax, nowadays with other adhesives. This reed is similar to the rectangular free reed of the sheng mouth organ, except that the bawu tongue is essentially in the form of a steep gradient triangle, in which the two long sides are of equal length (c1.5 cm) and the attached base is very small (...



Mireille Helffer

revised by Gert-Matthias Wegner and Simonne Bailey

[bãycā, kvaku]

Small beaked duct flute of Nepal. The bamboo tube is about 25 cm long with a diameter of 2.5 cm. It has seven fingerholes and one thumbhole, giving a range of 14 notes. Now obsolete except for a performance group at Kathmandu University, the bãy was formerly played by tailor-musicians of the Kathmandu Valley in the Bhaktapur ...



Ferdinand J. de Hen

Side-blown animal horn or ivory horn of the Zande people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The ivory examples have a carved lozenge-shaped embouchure. All have a fingerhole in the tip. The term also refers to a composite side-blown horn of the Zande, made of ivory and wood, also with a similar embouchure and a fingerhole in the tip....



Slightly conical wooden horn from the Kaszuby region of Poland. The name possibly comes from German Posaune. It is commonly made from alder or spruce in two rejoined halves in the manner of an alphorn, about 1 to 1.5 metres long, and produces four to eight harmonics. It is traditionally played by shepherds and fishermen. Similar Polish instruments include the ...