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Article

J. Richard Haefer

[atecuculli]

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....

Article

[págugu]

Stamping tube of Cuba. Of Yoruba origin, it is used in funerary rites for high-ranking Santería dignitaries to awaken or evoke the spirit of the deceased. It is more than 1 metre long and can have a small carved head at the top, symbol of the Égún or collective spirit of the dead....

Article

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’, ...

Article

John M. Schechter

Mandolin widely used as a folk instrument in Latin America. The instruments of the mestizos and Quechuas in highland Ecuador have a teardrop-shaped body with a flat back and a circular sound hole and are made from cedar, pine, and other woods. They have five triple courses of metal strings and are played with a plectrum. Several tunings are found; in the region of Cotacachi, Imbabura Province, one tuning is g–e♭″–c–g–e♭″; a more popular tuning is eee–aaa–ddd–f♯″f♯′f♯″–bbb″. The latter tuning is often varied in the fourth course to gg′g″ to facilitate guitar-like chord fingerings. In the Andean region the bandolín, together with the rondador and the charango, accompanies sanjuanito...

Article

Zither shaped like a harp. It was invented in the USA in the 19th century. It was 90 cm tall, had 18 strings, and five to seven buttons with which to change the pitch; on the lower part of the instrument was a drum to give a banjo-like resonance. ‘Banjo Harp’ was also a trade name for a five-string banjo with a wooden soundtable and a resonator back made by the Paramount Banjo Co. (William L. Lange) in the 1920s....

Article

Term for a banjo with four paired strings or a mandolin with a banjo-type head. Such combination types were popular novelties in the USA in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Some were patented, for example the Bandonian by William H. DeWick of Brooklyn (b 1869), patented ...

Article

Banká  

[ekón, ekóng]

Bell used by the Afro-Cuban Abakwá people. Two pieces of iron are shaped and joined with rivets or by forging or soldering, and a metal handle is attached. The joined edges are flattened so that the bell’s cross-section is somewhat oval and about 10 cm wide. Hitting it in different places produces different tones; the striker is commonly a hardwood stick....

Article

Batá  

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 ...

Article

Article

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....

Article

Bembé  

Malena Kuss

Cuban drums of African ancestry. The term refers to a set of three drums of different sizes and registers, as well as dancing to these drums and to the celebration in which they participate. There are six types of bembé drums: (1) single-headed cylindrical, barrel-shaped, or conical open wooden body, with nailed head; (2) double-headed cylindrical or barrel-shaped body with heads fastened by rope in W pattern and reinforced by transverse netting; (3) double-headed cylindrical body with nailed heads; (4) single-headed cylindrical, barrel-shaped, or conical drum, with the head held by a hoop and stretched by rope fastened to perpendicular wedges on the upper half of the body; (5) single-headed cylindrical, barrel-shaped, or conical body, with the head fastened by a system of hoops and stretched by metal tension keys; (6) single-headed cylindrical or conical body, with the head held by rope and stretched by straps fastening it to a girdle held in place by wedges on the upper part of the body....

Article

Bocina  

John M. Schechter

revised by J. Richard Haefer

Generic term for a horn in Latin America, specifically a natural horn of the mestizos and more especially the Quechua people of the highland Ecuadorian provinces of Imbabura, Chimborazo, Tungurahua, Cotopaxi, Cañar, and Azuayi. Each highland zone possesses its own type. The long (2 metres or more) and straight bamboo end-blown instrument is called huarumo or guarumo in the highlands; it is played in ensemble with flute and bombo. Among the Salasaca of Tungurahua and the Imbabura Quechua it is made up of a number of curved cow-horn segments joined together and ending with a guadúa (bamboo) bell. (It is sometimes called churu, not to be confused with the conch churu or quipa used for similar purposes in the Cotopaxi, Tungurahua, and Chimborazo provinces.) Bocinas are used by Quechuas to call men to fight, to minga (community work projects), to gather to celebrate the completion of a house or other festive occasions, and for other purposes....

Article

Bocú  

Malena Kuss

[bokú]

Single-headed drum of Cuba. It is tall, relatively thin, and open at the base. One of the oldest drums from eastern Cuba, it is a creole instrument blending elements of African and European ancestry and shares musical functions with the tumbadora. There are three types of bocúes: (1) cylindrical or conical wooden body, with nailed head; (2) conical wooden body with the head held by a hoop; and (3) conical wooden body made of staves, with the head fastened by a system of hoops and metal screw tuners (modern).

Traditionally, the body was made from a log or staves, preferably of cedar, although pine and other woods were also used. The oldest drums were cylindrical and carved from a log, with a nailed head; the conical shape resulted when staves from food barrels were reused, being thinned only at the lower end to glue them together. Goatskin was preferred for the head, although bovine, deer, horse, or calf skin could be used. Height commonly ranges from 65 to 95 cm, head diameter from 20 to 27 cm, and base diameter from 10 to 19 cm. The tallest ...

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

Botija  

Vessel flute of Cuba. It is a reused clay jug with a hole in its side, across which the player blows. Some botijas have a mouthpiece fitted to the hole. Also called botijuela (diminutive) and bunga (a term of Bantu origin), the botija originally contained oil from Spain. Sizes vary, but an early example (at C.HAB.c) is 33 cm tall and 24.8 cm in diameter around the ‘belly’, with a side hole 4.5 cm in diameter. The botija is usually held in one hand while the other covers and uncovers the mouth of the jug to alter the sound as the player blows across the side hole. Exceptionally, it can be blown through its mouth and its body can be tapped rhythmically. The sound of the blown botija has been likened to that of low drums. Documented in Cuba since the 19th century, the instrument was associated with carnival and patron-saint festivals and played the harmonic bass in early ...

Article

J. Richard Haefer

Percussion idiophone widely known in the Americas. Examples include the kalukhaq of the Alaskan Inuit and Native Americans of the northwest coast of North America, the cajón of Cuba and Peru, and the Mexican cajón de tapeo, which supposedly developed as a substitute for the tarima (dance platform). Box drums are also played in the Trinidadian shango cult and on other Caribbean islands. The typical cajón is a rectangular wooden box with a soundhole on the back or side; the box is usually large enough for the player to sit on while striking the front (tapa) with the hands or with sticks. Modern innovations include a padded seat on the top, screws for adjusting the timbre, snares that vibrate against the wood, and a pedal-operated striker. In 2001 Peru declared the cajón part of the nation’s cultural patrimony.

A. Chamorro: Los instrumentos de percusión en México (Zamora, 1984)....

Article

Bulá  

[boula]

Single-headed log drum of Haitians in Cuba. It is played, for instance, in the tumba francesa ensemble (tumba is a generic term for ‘drum’), a set of three cylindrical drums with heads of goatskin, struck by the hands. The head is attached to a hoop that is laced in a V-pattern to pegs inserted lower in the hardwood body; the pegs are hammered to tune the head. The body is often colourfully painted and carved with geometric and symbolic designs, and it stands upright on the ground or occasionally is laid sideways and straddled. The drums are named after their functions in the ensemble; the largest, lead drum is called manmanor manma(‘mother’), quinto, or premier; the mid-size is the bulá (called segon in Haiti); and the smallest is the bulá-segón or segón (boula in Haiti); individual drums might also be given personal names. Cuban tumbas are roughly the same height, about 77 to 81 cm, but of different diameters, about 46 to 51 cm. The higher-pitched drums are also called ‘first’ and ‘second’...

Article

[sambi]

Musical bow of Cuba. Probably derived from the Angolan mbulumbumba, it is made from cane or wood about 75 cm to 1 m long with a single vegetal or gut (nowadays sometimes metal) string braced to the bow slightly below the midpoint. An open half-gourd resonator 15–20 cm in diameter is tied to the outer curve of the bow opposite the brace. The gourd opening is moved towards and away from the player’s stomach to vary the timbre as he plucks the string with one finger. The ...

Article

J. Richard Haefer

Vessel rattle of the Flathead Indians of Montana, USA. It is made by cutting a piece of hide and sewing it into a spherical shape, 7 to 12 cm in diameter, with an extension about 10 cm long to wrap around a wooden handle. The hide is wetted and filled with wet sand, then moulded into shape and allowed to dry, and the sand emptied. Small pebbles are inserted as rattle elements, and the handle is secured to the base of the body. Normally the rattle is not decorated either with feathers or paint. When used for the ‘begging around camp’ ceremony it is called ...

Article

J. Richard Haefer

Rattle of the Aztec (Nahua) people of pre-Contact Mexico. It was a three-legged clay vase with clay pellets inside the hollow legs. The name also refers to other clay vessels containing seeds, stones, or other pellets. According to Molina (Vocabulario en lengua mexicana, 1571), cacalachtli (‘to sound’) denotes any clay receptacle containing pellets and for ritual use. The ...