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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

Nguyen Thuyet Phong

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

Beng  

Ferdinand J. de Hen

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

Article

Burburi  

Article

Jan Stęszewski

revised by Zbigniew J. Przerembski

[mrëczk, mruczek] (Pol.: ‘grumble bass’)

Friction drum used in the Pomerania and Warmia regions of Poland. Formerly it was used in magic and annual folk rituals, mainly during Christmas and Shrovetide. Nowadays many folk ensembles use it to provide a rhythmic bass, and as a musical attribute of Kashubian cultural identity. The barrel-shaped body is about 25–30 cm tall and made of wooden staves, or sometimes a hollowed log. The bottom of the barrel is made of leather or wood with a centrally attached strand of horsehair or a metal chain that is rubbed rhythmically with wetted or rosined hands. A smaller version called the ...

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

Gangana  

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

Gule  

Konin Aka

[goule, ule, kule, kwi]

Ceremonial slit drum of the Guere, Niabua, and Wobe peoples of the Ivory Coast. In the music of the secret kwi (‘spirit’) society the player holds a mirliton in his mouth and conducts a dialogue with the gule, which is later used for purely rhythmic accompaniment. The Guere also play the ...

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

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

Kading  

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

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....