1-11 of 11 results  for:

  • The Americas x
  • Religion and Music x
Clear all

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

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

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

J. Bryan Burton

[Goyaałé, Goyathlay, Goyahkla ]

(b New Mexico, 1829; d Fort Sill, OK, Feb 17, 1909). Native American instrument maker, singer, medicine man, prophet, and military leader. He is better known in Western history for his military leadership of Western Apache resistance to reservation life during the 1880s. Goyaałé (“One who yawns”) was given the name Geronimo after an attack on a Mexican village on St. Jerome’s day when terrified Mexican soldiers cried out “Jeronimo” appealing for help from St. Jerome. After his surrender he was held as a prisoner of war, first in St. Augustine, Florida, then in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, until his death. His celebrity was such that he often made public appearances, including at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, rode in Theodore Roosevelt’s inaugural parade in 1904, and wrote an autobiography with S.M. Barrett, the Oklahoma superintendent of education.

As a medicine man (Apache: diyan), Goyaałé performed Apache sacred ceremonies and rituals that required the knowledge of a vast repertoire of traditional songs sung during the ceremonies. A number of the songs he created were collected for Natalie Curtis’s ...

Article

J. Richard Haefer

(Apache: ísal, ‘pot’ or ‘bucket’; ‘bucket bound around’)

Water drum of the Apache people of Arizona and New Mexico. A large iron pot or kettle with the handle removed is partially filled with water and sacred materials (corn pollen and ash). A buckskin head (or nowadays sometimes rubber from a truck tire inner tube) is lashed tightly over the opening with buckskin thongs or strips of cloth or inner-tube rubber, with the excess skin or rubber draped around the pot. Historically a large pottery vessel was used; there is no evidence for use of a wooden vessel. The drumstick, of pine, is wrapped in buckskin at the distal end.

The drum accompanies singing, secular and religious (na-i-es, girl’s puberty ceremony; edotal, diagnostic; gojital, curing). It is usually played in groups of four with the performers standing and holding the drums under the left elbow, but in the curing rites it is held in the lap of a seated player. The earliest representation of the drum is a painting by George Catlin of ...

Article

Beverley Diamond

revised by J. Richard Haefer

[kalluraq, kalluak, kaylukuk, kotlookuk]

Ceremonial box drum associated with the Messenger Feast of the Iñupiaq-speaking people of Alaska. It is a rectangular wooden case (usually made of poplar), 45 to 90 cm tall by 18 to 30 cm long and wide. A fur-padded rail, attached along one side with a strip of black whale baleen, is struck with a thick, short stick while the drum is suspended from the ceiling of the ceremonial house. The drum is played by a seated drummer (usually male) wearing the tuutlik, a loon-skin headdress. A soundhole can be cut in the bottom of the drum and a handhold attached to one side. The drum is decorated with a zigzag pattern on the top edge and with eagle feathers. In the native cosmology that explains the origin of the feast, the drum is said to represent an eagle’s heartbeat.

The Tlingit people call the box drum lákt gaaw. Such instruments are often decorated in red and black stylized raven patterns....

Article

Ogán  

John M. Schechter

[ogã]

Iron bell used rhythmically in various drum ensembles of Afro-Cuban and Haitian vodun cults. In the hun ensemble of the Afro-Cuban Arará cult, it is a single inverted bell with an external beater. A double ogán (two bells joined by an iron loop) serves for mourning music in Matanzas Province. Instead of the loop handle some double ogán have straight handles forged together. The ogán is now rare and is being replaced by various metal objects, including blades from agricultural tools and chain links; these also are called ogán or ...

Article

David P. McAllester

revised by J. Richard Haefer

Water drum used in meetings of the Native American (or Peyote) Church. The standard drum consists of a well-soaked buckskin head stretched over an iron kettle about 25 cm deep. The best skins are said to be ‘brain tanned’. The head symbolizes the former war shield, now a spiritual shield. It is attached by an intricate tying method that has symbolic import. Symbolism and rules may vary from fireplace to fireplace with some ideas common throughout the religion. Seven stones or marbles indicating the seven days, the seven sisters (constellations), the seven senses (orifices) of the face, or, for the Sioux, the seven council fires, are tied to the head. The rope tying the head represents the rope used to tie enemies, the reins of war horses, or blood veins. The kettle is half-filled with water, which represents rain or the water of the earth; the sound of the drum represents thunder. Live coals (four to 12 depending on the fireplace) symbolizing lightning are put in the water before the head is attached. The skin is kept moist during meetings by vigorously shaking the kettle between songs or by a quick shake during a song when the sound begins to change. At some fireplaces the drummer will suck or blow on the edge of the drum to force water onto the head, while at others this is prohibited....

Article

David P. McAllester

revised by J. Richard Haefer

Small vessel rattle used by singers during ceremonies of the Native American (or Peyote) Church. It is a gourd about 8 to 9 cm in diameter containing pebbles, pierced by a straight wooden handle about 25 to 30 cm long that passes through the gourd and projects slightly. A circular stopper on the handle prevents the stones from falling out. A tuft of dyed horsehair, representing the peyote cactus blossom, is tied to the projecting end. The handle, which may be carved or beaded at the base, symbolizes the arrow or the riding crop used in war but now used in peace. The beadwork may show various symbolic designs: rainbow for beauty of life, red–white–blue for war veterans, fire, or water. 12 tassels cut from a bow string (so it can never be used on a bow again) decorate the end of the handle to symbolize the months or yearly cycle. The user shakes the rattle with one hand and holds the peyote staff (symbolic of the broken bow) in his other hand. The stopper can be of wood or even a coin; it does not touch the edge of the gourd. Friction of the end of the handle projecting at the top (symbolic of the arrow head) holds the handle to the gourd. The rattle pebbles may have individual significance such as turquoise for an Apache, salt, ant, or ocean pebbles, and so on. The outer surface of the rattle may be decorated in patterns related to the peyote ceremony or patterns important to the owner such as stars, moon, fire, eagle; older rattles often had patterns scratched into the surface....

Article

J. Richard Haefer

Suspension rattle of the Yoeme Yaqui Indians of Arizona and Northern Mexico and the Mayo and Guarijio of Sonora, Mexico. It is worn around the waist of both the maso (deer dancer) and pahko’ola (pascola) dancers. It consists of a leather belt from which are suspended, on short leather thongs, a series of dew claws and split, small deer hooves for the ...

Article

Seises  

Robert Stevenson

(Sp. ‘sixes’)

From the 16th century to the 19th, the choirboys who sang polyphony in the cathedrals of Seville, Toledo, Avila, Segovia, Mexico City, Lima and elsewhere in the Spanish-speaking world were called seises – six being their traditional number at Seville and Toledo cathedrals. The earliest papal bulls designating the income from a prebend for a master of the choirboys in Seville Cathedral were Eugene IV’s Ad exequendum (24 September 1439) and Nicolas V’s Votis illis (27 June 1454). Throughout the next three centuries Seville Cathedral (which set the pattern for the Spanish Indies) had both a master of the altar boys who sang only plainchant, and a master of the seises, generally the maestro de capilla or his deputy. The master of the seises boarded and taught them. When their voices changed, and upon receiving a certificate of good behaviour, they were entitled to a few years’ free tuition and other benefits in the Colegio de S Miguel or in the Colegio de S Isidoro maintained by the Sevillian Chapter. Similar ...