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Article

Owen Wright, Christian Poché, and Amnon Shiloah

Music traditions in the Arabic-speaking world. For discussions of the music of specific areas, see also individual country articles.

The art music/folk (or popular) music opposition is a blunt instrument at best, and at various times and places in the Arab world it would be unrealistic or unhelpful to seek to draw a clear dividing line. In Arabic the terminological distinction is a modern importation, and while the earlier textual tradition may recognize regional differences it is more frequently concerned with an ultimately ethical evaluation of the various purposes for which music may be used. However, these imply distinctions of function and social context, and as one major constant in Arab and Middle Eastern Islamic culture generally we may identify a form of entertainment music for which, in fact, the label ‘art music’ is quite apt. Nurtured at courts, patronized by urban élites, performed by professionals (and aristocratic amateurs) and described in explicitly theoretical terms, art music constituted an integral element of sophisticated high culture and, consequently, could be regarded as a suitable subject for scientific and philosophical enquiry....

Article

Nguyen Thuyet Phong

Article

Bher  

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....

Article

Burburi  

Article

Alastair Dick

revised by Andrew Alter

[ḍaũr]

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 ...

Article

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....

Article

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.)...

Article

Gshang  

Mireille Helffer

Tibetan shallow bell, sounded by Bön-po monks and by certain mediums. It has an internal clapper and a widely flared mouth, and somewhat resembles a small, thick cymbal to which a clapper has been added. Various types of gshang are distinguished by their sizes, which range from about 7 to 20 cm in diameter. A leather handle passes through a central hole in the top of the dome ( pho-brang) and is affixed to a wooden clapper that hangs inside the bell. The inside is often decorated with the five syllables of the Bön-po mantra: am, om, hum, ram, and dza. When used alone the instrument is held in the right hand; when played with a drum (rnga or damaru) it is held in the left. In either case it is sounded with an upward movement.

M. Helffer: Mchod-rol. Les instruments de la musique tibétaine (Paris, 1994)....

Article

Andrew C. McGraw

Priests’ bell of Siberut island, Mentawai, Indonesia. Traditional jejeneng accompany chant and dance and are made of buffalo horn with a clapper either of bamboo or the pincers of a crab. Nowadays priests often use metal bells, also called lonceng, to accompany urai kerei (shaman’s song). The bells are thought to encourage a sick person’s spirit to return to its body....

Article

Ury Eppstein

Musical life in modern Jerusalem can be divided into two separate spheres: the liturgical music of the various Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious communities who maintain their living musical traditions; and Western secular art music.

Most of the many Jewish religious musical traditions are represented in the synagogues of the various communities, the most ancient being of Middle Eastern origin, mainly from the Yemen, Baghdad, Kurdistan, Iran, Bokhara and Syria. On further investigation, these may prove to preserve elements of musical traditions from biblical times. There are also representatives of the musical traditions of Spanish-based Sephardi communities, especially those from North Africa, Greece and Turkey, as well as of the mainstreams of eastern European Ashkenazi tradition, namely Hasidism (which created in Jerusalem a special vocal style imitating instruments, stimulated by the ban on instrumental music imposed to signify mourning for the destruction of the Temple) and its opponents, Mithnagdim, who developed a Jerusalem version of the Lithuanian-style Bible cantillation. Western European communities, mainly from Germany, also have synagogues with their own musical traditions....

Article

Kading  

Article

Kochnak  

Jonathan McCollum

[gochnag]

Handheld percussion bar of Armenia. It was similar to the semantron and was made of wood or iron, but is now obsolete. It was used to signal the hours of prayer and summon the faithful to church. The kochnak was approximately one metre long and could be either straight or semi-circular. When not in use it was suspended by chains at the top of the church interior....

Article

Muyu  

Alan R. Thrasher

(‘wooden fish’)

Woodblockof the Han Chinese, used primarily to accompany Buddhist chant. It is carved from a block of mulberry, camphor, or other wood in the abstract shape of a fish—squat and wedge-shaped—often with stylized tail and scales. Its hollowed interior and frontal slit (extending 180° around the instrument) form the mouth. The instrument is usually lacquered red, but occasionally left unlacquered. It is struck with a padded or unpadded beater. Length and width range from about 5 to 60 cm, 7 to 16 cm being normal, but examples as large as 85 cm are found in some temples. Small muyu are carried in one hand during processions, while larger instruments rest on cushions set on special tables. At Buddhist temples in Beijing, Xiamen, and elsewhere, elongated carved representations of fish (100 cm long or longer) are suspended near the entrance and used for signalling.

The muyu was first described in the ...

Article

Terry E. Miller

[bin bādy]

In Cambodia, the primary classical ensemble played at court ceremonies, some Buddhist festivals, to accompany the large shadow theatre, masked drama, and dance drama. Both the ensemble and its name are closely related to similar ensembles in Thailand (piphat) and Laos (sep nyai/piphat). Ensembles vary in size from minimal (five instruments) to large. A basic ensemble consists of ...

Article

Rei  

Small Buddhist handbell, the only common bell with a clapper of traditional Japanese music. The Chinese equivalent is the ling. With its flared mouth the rei resembles a Swiss handbell, but the bell and handle are cast in a single piece. The end of the handle is shaped to resemble a closed talon, representing the ...

Article

Alastair Dick

[saṅkh, śaṅkha, cankam, caṅku]

Sacred conch horn of India and South Asia. It is the equivalent of the sak of Sri Lanka and the dung of Tibet. The shell is that of the large gastropod Turbinella pyrum, found particularly in the waters of the south (Gulf of Mannar, northern Sri Lanka, Kerala) but also off Kathiawar, Gujarat. The Sanskrit name śaṅkha is a precise Indo-European cognate of the Greek konkhos (the latter denoting different types of shell). It is mentioned from the Atharva-veda (c1000 bce) onwards; it does not occur in the earliest Veda, the Ṛg-veda, but a term occurring there only twice, bakura, was identified by Sachs (1914) as the conch on the grounds that bakora is a conch name in northern Madagascar. From its earliest mention, however, the śaṅkha occurs prominently in Hindu (and Buddhist) culture as a temple instrument (it is one of the emblems of the great god Vishnu, and was one of the blessings produced when gods and demons churned the milk ocean), functioning also as a lustral vessel and as part of the insignia of royalty and the aristocracy (the ...

Article

Tabal  

Alastair Dick

[abl]

Name (of Arabic origin) given on the Indian subcontinent to the bass drum of the palace and temple ceremonial band naqqārakhāna. The instrument in the band at the shrine of Mo’inuddin Chishti in Ajmer, Rajasthan, is more than 160 cm in diameter; it is said to have been presented by the Emperor Akbar in the late 16th century....