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John Rosselli

(bc 1625–6; d Rome, 1713).French-Italian theatre builder and impresario. A French nobleman from Orléans, he became secretary in 1662 to Queen Christina of Sweden (resident in Rome after her abdication), in whose service he remained till her death in 1689; he managed her musical and theatrical entertainments, opera included. Under her patronage he built in 1669 the Teatro di Tordinona, the first notable opera house in Rome; he also built tennis courts and once ran a lottery combined with an exhibition of mirrors. When a new pope in 1676 forbade the reopening of the Tordinona, and Christina’s income from Sweden was held up by war, d’Alibert went to Turin; there he built and, in 1678, managed another opera house, the Teatro Ducale (later Regio). After the opening season he judged it to be doubtfully profitable and returned to Rome, where he kept gambling tables in his own house and entertained his customers with plays, music and puppet shows. After the demolition of the Tordinona in ...

Article

Robert B. Winans

revised by Jonas Westover

(b Holyoke, MA, Jan 17, 1871; d Newfane, VT, Nov 18, 1948). American banjoist and banjo maker. He began his career playing with a medicine show and a Wild West show, then from 1890 to 1915 performed in a vaudeville act with his wife. He studied with ALFRED A. FARLAND in the mid- 1890s and about 1897 organized the Bacon Banjo Quintette. He toured with the Bacon Trio in 1905–6, and made another very successful tour in 1908 with “The Big Three,” consisting of himself, the guitarist William Foden, and the mandolinist Guiseppe Pettine. Bacon continued to play into the 1940s and his few recordings attest to his virtuoso performances; contemporary reviewers praised his tone, his great technique, and the expressiveness of his playing. He taught, published several method books, and wrote many arrangements and compositions for five-string banjo. Bacon also designed banjos, bringing out his first instrument in ...

Article

Steven Ball

Considerable evidence suggests that the use of tower bells in North America was somewhat widespread by at least the last quarter of the 17th century, if not before. The bells themselves, as well as the ringing traditions associated with them, were imported by European missionaries and settlers. The earliest bell founders working in this country were John Pass and John Stowe, whose first bell was the recasting of the “Liberty Bell” (originally by Whitechapel Foundry of London) in 1753 for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

A basic division has always existed between the use tower bells as a signal for secular or sacred functions, with the former more customarily being hung stationary and the latter tending to be swinging bells. By the turn of the 17th century stationary civic bells and clock chimes had developed in the Low Countries into the art of the traditional carillon, while the swinging church bells found across continental Europe evolved in England into the practice of change ringing. Handbells, developed in the 18th century for practicing change ringing indoors, have found wide use and popularity as a musical art form quite apart from their original association with tower bells....

Article

Laurence Libin

(b Bronx, NY, Oct 22, 1946). American luthier, notable for handmade archtop jazz guitars. In childhood he learned woodworking from his father, a skilled cabinetmaker, and music from an uncle, a violinist; his grandfather had worked for Steinway & Sons. A visit to the Gretsch guitar factory in Brooklyn fueled his interest in the instrument; he played a Chet Atkins model 6120 guitar from 1960 to 1968. Upon discharge from the US Air Force in 1968 he started to make his first guitar and began repairing Gibson, D’Angelico, and New York Epiphone instruments. At the time he was the youngest and least experienced archtop maker of a group that included William Barker, Carl Barney, Roger Borys, James D’Aquisto, Sam Koontz, and Philip Petillo. In the 1970s jazz guitarists such as Bucky Pizzarelli, Chuck Wayne, and Martin Taylor began to use and endorse Benedetto’s instruments. He incorporated his business as Benedetto Guitars, Inc., but in ...

Article

Botul  

Margaret J. Kartomi

revised by Gini Gorlinski

Gong chime of the Pakpak people of northern Sumatra, Indonesia. Its five to nine small bossed gongs are placed horizontally in a wooden trough, somewhat like the bonang of Central Java. Unlike the bonang, which is played by a single musician, the botul may be played by as many as three men. It is the leading melodic instrument in an ensemble that also includes three suspended gongs, cilat-cilat (cymbals), and an optional pair of gendang (cylindrical drums). It may also be included in the larger gendering ensemble, which is dominated by a set of five to nine drums. By the late 20th century, the botul was seldom encountered and only in a few areas of the Pakpak region. It is not known nowadays in Boang and Simsim but is found in the Kelasan, Pegagan, and Kepas districts.

L. Moore: ‘An Introduction to the Music of the Pakpak Dairi of North Sumatra’, ...

Article

Caroline Polk O’Meara

(b Dumbarton, Scotland, May 14, 1952). American Musician, visual artist, and filmmaker of Scottish birth. He has worked across a range of media, attracting much critical admiration. With drummer Chris Frantz and bass player Tina Weymouth, in 1974 he formed Talking heads, one of the best-known bands of the early punk-rock movement in the 1970s. With Byrne serving as the primary songwriter and front man, they made their first public performance opening for the Ramones at CBGB & OMFUG. On their second album Byrne worked with English producer Brian Eno, which marked the beginning of a productive and longstanding relationship. Eno recorded the band’s next three albums and collaborated with Byrne on the albums My Life in the Bush of Ghosts (1981) and Everything that Happens will Happen Today (2008).

Since the early 1980s Byrne has produced a variety of work as a musician, artist, and writer. In ...

Article

Mareia Quintero Rivera

(b San Juan, PR, July 10, 1910; d Carolina, PR, July 21, 1996). American Puerto Rican composer, singer, percussionist, dancer, and drum-maker. A master of traditional bomba and plena, he was one the most prominent figures of Afro-Puerto Rican musical folklore in the 20th century. He is also known for his commitment to passing down these traditions to subsequent generations. Together with his wife, Caridad Brenes, a gifted dancer, he raised a family of skilled practitioners and maintained a lifelong practice of teaching in the community of Villa Palmeras, Santurce, the working-class area where they lived.

Cepeda was a key figure in gaining national and international recognition for Afro-Puerto Rican musical genres. In the 1940s he created an ensemble for radio performances, and he later developed a stage version of bomba, which he presented in San Juan’s major hotels. Several of his compositions were popularized by Ismael Rivera and Rafael Cortijo. Cepeda also developed ties with the Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña, founded in ...

Article

Richard Johnston

Guitar, mandolin, and ukulele manufacturer. It was founded in Houston, Texas, in 1976 by Bill Collings (b 1948), who had moved from Ohio to Texas following a failed attempt at medical school. After building a few guitars and some banjos, Collings moved to Austin in 1979. His background as a machinist led him to emphasize precise jigs and fixtures even when he was working out of a small single-car garage. Demand for Collings guitars, specifically for updated versions of Martin and Gibson flat-top styles from the 1930s, prompted his move to a 1,000-square-foot shop in 1989. Two woodworkers were hired, including Bruce Van Wart, who is still in charge of wood selection and top voicing on the firm’s acoustic guitars. By this time, production had increased to a level that allowed sales to a few retailers.

In late 1991 the company relocated to a much larger facility on the outskirts of Austin, and the number of Collings guitar models, and employees, began to grow. Bill Collings was one of the first flat-top guitar builders to offer fully carved arch-top models as well. These deluxe jazz guitars were quickly accepted as the equals of those from premier American builders, and they sold for similar prices; but only a few were completed each year. Collings was also one of the first small, independent guitar companies to incorporate CNC (computer numerical control) carving machines for building both guitar parts and the precise tooling to aid in their assembly, which is still done by hand. One of the signature differences between the Collings models and the Gibson and Martin originals that inspired them is that Collings uses an unglued bolted mortise and tenon neck joint, rather than a traditional dovetail....

Article

Laurence Libin

(b Napier, New Zealand, May 14, 1946). Intermedia artist whose transdisciplinary practice includes video/sound work and installations, experimental instruments, graphic scores, and improvisation. He studied at Elam School of Fine Arts, Auckland (DipFA Hons, 1971) and the University of West Sydney, Nepean (MA Hons, 2000). Since the early 1970s his sound-based artworks have involved newly invented instruments. A member of the original Scratch Orchestra in London (1968–9), Dadson founded Scratch Orchestra (NZ) in 1970 and later From Scratch (1974–2004). A key part of From Scratch’s development was instrument invention, from using found objects to making unique, custom-designed devices. Tunings evolved from randomly pitched sounds to 12-note and microtonal tunings, and just intonation. Central to this development were tuned percussion stations composed of rack-supported, four-tiered assemblies of PVC pipes, tuned-tongue bamboos and bells (in which parallel slots cut in the materials produce a vibrating tongue matching the resonant frequency of the open or closed tubes), and roto-tom drums, combined with special methods of playing. These percussion stations, along with other novel struck and spun acoustic instruments, produced the characteristic From Scratch sound. More recent instruments include the Zitherum (long-stringed instruments that are drummed and bowed), the metal-pronged Nundrum, the stroked RodBaschet, the gong tree, Foley-trays, the Water Cooler Drumkit, water bells, the Gloop-spring-string-drum family, the Sprong family, and other fanciful types....

Article

Laurence Libin

(b Jirapa, Ghana, June 22, 1958). Ghanaian xylophone maker, player, and teacher. Born into a family of gyilli makers and players in northwest Ghana, Doozie began playing at six years of age. When he was 12 his father taught him to make his first gyilli and he was a practised maker by age 15. After secondary school Doozie moved to Accra to become a xylophonist with the Ghana Dance Ensemble. He was also an instructor at the Institute of African Studies at the University of Ghana, Legon. Among other appointments, he has performed with the National SO Ghana and has been associated with the Institute of African Studies and the music and performing arts departments of the University of Ghana. In 1990 he established a workshop to produce xylophones; he made the xylophones used in the Broadway production of The Lion King. He has also restored instruments in museum collections. He continues to teach and perform and is managing director of Dagarti Arts and Music in Accra and a member of the Arts Council of Ghana. He is also involved in promoting fair trade practices. Doozie’s xylophone bars—from eight to 18 for each instrument—are made of aged, fire-dried planks of wood from male shea trees. Gourd resonators are affixed under the bars, which are tied to the curved frame. The tips of the wooden beaters are padded with rubber recycled from tyres....