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Article

Michael Webb

Both a struck aerophone (alternatively, an idiophone) comprising a set of three or five tuned bamboo tubes, and the name for an ensemble including these instruments. It was featured in popular music in the Solomon Islands (its place of origin) and parts of Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu for several decades from the 1970s. The primary instrument is derived from the handheld tuned stamping tube, and comprises a set of 7- to 9-cm-diameter bamboos, open at both ends and graduated in lengths of up to 2 metres, arranged in raft form. A band will include at least three sets; each set is commonly tuned (to a guitar) 1–3–5–6–8 (or 1–3–5), usually in a low register, to sound one of the three primary chords in a given key. With flexible paddles players vigorously slap in succession one open end of each bamboo in a boogie-woogie rhythmic-melodic pattern that outlines a triad; sets alternate according to changes in harmony. The ensemble includes guitars and accompanies harmonized singing. A related Solomon Islands ensemble without guitars yet employing Westernized tuning, involves multiple sets of panpipes, ‘pantrumpets’, and the rack-mounted bass ...

Article

J. Richard Haefer

Largest, lead drum in a set of hand-beaten drums and other percussion used in Afro-Cuban Akubua dance music. The drum set can also include the binkome or biankome (highest drum), eroapa (high drum), kuchiyerema or kotchierima (medium-size drum), and obiapa or opiapa (low drum; the lead drum in the Abakua three-member ...

Article

Allison A. Alcorn

Style of playing either acoustic or electric guitar. The guitarist places a tube on one left-hand finger, usually the pinky, and presses this ‘slide’ onto the steel string to vary pitch. The slide is moved along the string without lifting, creating portamento from pitch to pitch. In this style, the guitar’s frets become nonfunctional, though some guitarists use their free fingers to fret as well. ‘Bottleneck’ refers to the neck of a glass bottle, originally used for the slides. Modern slides can be made of glass, glass on the outside and ceramic on the inside to prevent slipping, or non-shattering material such as brass or polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipe. The material of the slide affects the timbre; for instance, heavier glass produces a richer, fuller tone, while the iron oxide in green glass creates a loud, sharp tone that is still warmer than cobalt oxide in blue glass. Metals, which generate a very bright tone, are used mostly with electric guitars. In bottleneck playing the guitar is held in the usual guitar position, whereas the lap slide guitar is played belly up, back flat on the player’s lap....

Article

Buzuq  

Scheherazade Qassim Hassan

Long-necked lute, probably of late Ottoman origin, introduced during the 20th century to urban Arab centres in Iraq, Syria, and the Lebanon. The soundbox resembles that of the classical ‘ūd. The neck has 24 movable frets, and the two or three strings are tuned in 4ths. Originally used by Kurds, Turkmen, and some Roma musicians, it is now used also by Arabs to accompany songs and for classical Arab ...

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 ...

Article

Anne Beetem Acker

Electronic percussion instrument released in 1980 and manufactured by the BOSS division of Roland. Very popular, small, inexpensive and easy to use, the Dr Rhythm model DR-55 was one of the first drum machines to use ‘step-write’ programming, where in ‘write’ mode the user can select a sound and use buttons to move incrementally (‘step’) through each beat of the beat pattern and select a choice of sounds. It can store up to six 16-step drum patterns and two 12-step patterns, the latter for triple-metre rhythms. Its four (analogue) voice-circuit sounds are snare, kick drum, rim-shot, and hi-hat. The pattern can be switched during playing, and volume, tempo (45 to 300 beats per minute), tone, and accent can be globally adjusted. The DR-110 Graphic (...

Article

Anne Beetem Acker

Electronic device that changes the sound of an instrument, especially used with electronic or electric instruments such as electric guitar, bass, and keyboard. An effects unit can be a rack-mounted box with manual controls (most commonly used in studios), a tabletop box with manual controls (commonly used by a DJ), a box set on the floor (a ‘stompbox’) and usually operated by the foot, or built into an amplifier (including those in some electric guitars). Multi-effects (multi-FX) devices combine several effects in one unit, allowing combinations to be pre-set and accessed with one touch. The most common stompboxes have one pedal and one effect, but some offer multiple effects and a simple pedalboard for selection. Effects units can be connected into an ‘effect chain’. If an effects unit in the chain is turned off, the signal passes to the next in the chain, allowing the performer to choose which effects in the chain to control. Multiple effect chains can be controlled from an ‘effects management system’....

Article

J. Richard Haefer

Five-stringed guitar of Mexico, probably originating in the Tecalitlán area of Jalisco. It was one of the earliest mariachi instruments. It is also colloquially known as quinta or jarana (not to be confused with the jarana huasteca or jarana jarocha). Typically it has a soundbox 33 cm long, 31 cm wide (maximum), and 11 cm deep; a 32 cm neck (4 cm of the fingerboard overlapping flat on the soundboard) with 12 metal frets; and 56 cm string length. The soundhole is decorated with ...

Article

J. Richard Haefer

Large guitar of Mexico. It is played as the bass instrument in mariachi and other Mexican ensembles. The guitarrón mexicano (literally ‘large Mexican guitar’) is shaped like a guitar but with deep sides and a V-arched back. Typically it has a soundbox 63 cm long with a 48 cm maximum width and maximum depth of 21 cm at the sides plus an additional 9 cm to the apex of the back. The fretless neck terminates in a pegboard with pegs inserted from the rear. A 10 cm soundhole on the ...

Article

Anne Beetem Acker

Electronic music player that accompanies singers with pre-recorded music. The name comes from Japanese, kara (‘empty’) and oke (‘orchestra’). The basic karaoke machine includes some form of music player, a built-in audio mixer, microphone inputs, and audio outputs. The first karaoke systems included a microphone, eight-track tape player, amplifier, loudspeaker, and printed songbooks. Later machines display the lyrics on a video screen, and the more expensive versions can adjust the pitch level to suit the singer without changing tempo (some early systems allowed for changing the pitch but only by changing the tape speed, altering the tempo). Some early 21st-century versions include an Auto-Tune audio processor to correct intonation and software for making music videos. Karaoke systems for public spaces often are integrated into a pedestal that holds the controls, song storage, microphones, and video display, with separate loudspeakers. Portable systems resemble portable CD players, with or without a video screen. Wireless-microphone karaoke systems by companies such as Entertech use television or entertainment consoles for both audio and video. Video-game versions allow singers/players to receive scores or perform ‘with’ famous bands, sometimes as an animated character onscreen....

Article

Lambda  

Anne Beetem Acker

Analogue string synthesizer manufactured in 1979 by Keio of Tokyo as part of the Korg range. The Lambda has a 48-note keyboard with full polyphony, three voltage control oscillators, chorus and vibrato effects, and one voltage control filter. An unusual feature is the incorporation of two envelope generators for each note. The preset orchestral sounds have limited editing capability. The presets form two groups, each with an independent output: a percussion set (pianos, clavis, and harmonics), and an ensemble set (brass, strings, chorus, and organ). The unit has a joystick that facilitates simultaneous control of pitch bends and chorus phase speed. The string sounds are particularly prized, and modern synthesizer makers include Lambda string sound samples in their libraries. The Lambda was used for live performance and recordings by many rock musicians of the late 1970s and early 1980s including Rick Wakeman, Keith Emerson, and Les Rockets....

Article

Sumanth Gopinath

An easily transported, often handheld machine that plays pre-recorded and/or broadcast media, sometimes possessing recording capability; the term is most often associated with portable digital audio and multimedia players. The history of the portable media device can be linked decisively, if not exclusively, to the invention of audio recording (portable magic lanterns and other cinematic precursors were common in the 19th century). Mechanical audio devices such as the suitcase gramophone, popular among sailors and soldiers, emerged during the first two decades of the 20th century, and early radio kits were portable, preceding the often-discussed “domestication” of the record player and the radio into household furniture. Radio sets became fitted components in automobiles around ...

Article

Sarah Gerk

(b Cricklade, England, 1828; d Lansingburgh, NY, Oct 17, 1867). Composer, performer, and music teacher of English birth. Best known for penning the song “Aura Lea.” Poulton emigrated at the age of seven from England to the United States with his parents. As an adult, he moved to Rochester, where he taught at a series of music schools. In ...

Article

Mark Tucker

(b Belzoni, MS, March 21, 1930; d Chicago, IL, April 24, 1970). American blues pianist and singer. He received instruction as a boy from such local pianists as Frank Spann (his stepfather), Friday Ford, and Little Brother Montgomery, and played piano in church. He worked with various blues bands, performing in bars and clubs in the area around Jackson, Mississippi, then served in the U.S. Army (...

Article

Syndrum  

Hugh Davies

Electronic percussion instrument invented in Los Angeles by Joe Pollard, a professional drummer. In 1976 he met Mark Barton of the Tycobrahe Sound Company in Hermosa Beach, California, who made some well-received prototypes. Along with Donald Stone, they patented the design and formed Pollard Industries of South El Monte, California. The Syndrum is played like a drum, but has a piezo-electric sensor mounted in the centre of a mesh-covered ‘head’. Syndrums were initially made in two forms: the 477, a drum (also in sets of two and four) connected to a separate electronic console, and the 177, a single-drum unit with built-in controls governing electronically generated sounds. The two-head 277 followed. While the Syndrum was very popular with rock bands and for disco in the late 1970s and early 80s, Pollard Industries failed and in ...

Article

Anne Beetem Acker

Monophonic analogue synthesizer produced between 1982 and 1984 by Synton Electronics, a Dutch firm founded in 1973 by Felix Visser. The device was created by Visser along with the product specialist Marc Paping and product developer Bert Vermeulen. Synton originally built vocoders, but soon began importing and distributing Fairlight, E-mu, and Linn products in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg. The Syrinx 1, created about ...

Article

Anne Beetem Acker

Sound-effects device that utilizes the player’s mouth as a resonator, allowing the player to form an electric guitar’s or other electronic instrument’s sounds into words and phrases. Output from a phenolic diaphragm speaker is sent through surgical tubing to the player’s mouth, where the sound is modified and picked up by a microphone....

Article

Anne Beetem Acker

Electronic instrument, controller, and sequencer created by the Japanese media artist Toshio Iwai (b Kira, Aichi, Japan, 1962) and Yu Nishibori of the Music and Human Interface Group at the Yamaha Center for Advanced Sound Technology. The name means ‘sound on your palm’. As part of Iwai’s interest in the relationships between sounds and visual images, he created a number of interactive sound and art installations, including ...

Article

Wasp  

Hugh Davies and Anne Beetem Acker

Small analogue–digital hybrid synthesizer designed by Chris Huggett with rock musician Adrian Wagner and manufactured between 1978 and 1981 by their firm, Electronic Dream Plant (EDP), in Combe, near Oxford. The Wasp was also briefly available in kit form. This synthesizer has a two-octave, solid, monophonic ‘keyboard’ with pitch-bend and portamento controls; the diatonic keys, knobs, and lettering are yellow on a black background, to match the instrument’s name. For a real keyboard, it substitutes flat copper plates under a printed vinyl sticker. The conductive plates sense skin capacitance to trigger the associated pitches. The Wasp contains two oscillators, a white-noise generator, a filter, and an envelope shaper, and offers various voltage-controlled features, as well as a small built-in loud speaker and sockets for connecting to other EDP products. The circuitry incorporates a digital pitch-coding system which facilitates links with other devices, including microcomputers. In its shiny black plastic case and with batteries in place, the Wasp weighs only 1.8 kg (a deluxe version with wooden case and conventional keyboard is heavier but still easily portable). Although relatively inexpensive, small, and rather fragile, the Wasp was powerful and versatile for its time and developed an enduring following. EDP developed a still smaller model, the Gnat, with one oscillator and pulse width modulation, and the Caterpillar, a three-octave keyboard controller with four-voice polyphony. Other EDP creations included the Keytar, a guitar controller based on the Wasp, which was never produced, and a microcomputer-based 252-step sequencer called the Spider....