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Brian Diettrich


Nose flute from the islands of Chuuk, Micronesia. It is made from bamboo or mangrove root. Similar bamboo nose flutes have been documented for the atolls surrounding Chuuk, with instruments reported in the Mortlock Islands (there called áttik), as well as on Pollap, Polowat (anin), Houk (likáttik), and Satawal (janil). All these flutes are obsolete. In Chuuk the mangrove flute was made by removing the core from an aerial root of the mangrove tree, then inserting a plug of coconut meat with a small hole made in the centre in one end of the tube as the blow-hole. The bamboo flute was made from a single length of cane with the blowing end fitted like the mangrove flute. Museum specimens range in length from 18 to 87 cm, with an average diameter of 1.5 cm. These examples and historical reports represent instruments with one to three fingerholes as well as overtone flutes without fingerholes. Chuukese men played the melodies of ...




Large, complex horn of the Luo people of Kenya. It is formed from a round gourd to which is affixed an elongated gourd neck joined at the top to a cow or antelope horn. It is side-blown through a hole near the tip of the animal horn. The sections are joined with beeswax, and the instrument is dampened with water before use to seal any cracks. It is played at funerals and other functions. The player introduces a song, and after the chorus enters he plays the ...





Jeremy Montagu

End-blown conical flute of the Mombutu people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is made of antelope horn and has two fingerholes. Such flutes, with a curved or straight blowing edge and two or three fingerholes, are common all over this area of the DRC under various names....



Helmi Strahl Harrington and Gerhard Kubik

[accordeon, accordian, squashbox, squeezebox] (Fr. accordéon; Ger. Akkordeon, Handharmonika, Klavier-Harmonika, Ziehharmonika; It. armonica a manticino, fisarmonica; Russ. bayan, garmonica, garmoschka)

A term applied to a number of portable free-reed aerophones. Their common features include a mechanical keyboard under each hand, manipulated by the fingers to select pitches. The keyboards are connected by folded bellows which induce air to flow through the reedplates; these move horizontally and are controlled by arm-pressures that in turn regulate the loudness of the sound emitted. An air-button or -bar on the left-hand end, operated by the thumb or palm, is used to fill and empty the bellows without sounding a note. Straps hold the instrument in the hands or on the shoulders. The casework around the keyboards and covering the reedplates is usually of a style and decoration that has become associated with the type of accordion and is sometimes identifiable with its company of origin. Accordions are related historically, organologically and technologically to the Reed organ, specifically the table harmonium, and the harmonica (...


Accordion in the United States  

Ron Emoff

A family of portable, bellows fueled, free-reed instruments. The right hand typically has access to a series of piano-like keys or circular buttons that activate melodic tones by allowing air to flow over reeds and set them in oscillation. The left hand has access to a separate set of buttons that regulate bass, chord, and in some cases independent tone sonorities. The term “accordion” may apply to instruments that are either diatonically or chromatically scaled. More specifically, a melodeon is a smaller, diatonic button accordion. Another type, known as a concertina, is made in both diatonic and chromatic tunings and is sometimes distinguished by its polygonal sound box. Most accordions have left-hand side air buttons that, when depressed, allow the bellows to be moved rapidly without sounding a reed tone, or provide more bellows when a performer reaches either the bellows’ conventional limits of extension (draw out) or compression (push in)....


Achromatic horn  

[Englisches F-Horn]

A cornet-shaped horn invented by Johann Riedel of Pressburg (now Bratislava) in 1854. It had four valves, for a half step, whole step, and whole plus half step, plus a combination valve, and a compass from G′ to g″; it was not a success.

F.L. Schubert: Die Blechinstrumente der Musik...



Tiberiu Alexandru

Piano accordion of Romania. Early forms were known in rural communities in the 1880s under the name armoniu, etc. It became widespread in the period between the two World Wars, replacing the button-keyed Armonicǎ and encouraging the demise of certain other traditional instruments among the lǎutari (professional folk musicians), particularly the small ...



John M. Schechter

revised by Alice L. Satomi

Term for several aerophones of the Carajá and Savajé Indians of Brazil. Izikowitz documents it as a ribbon-reed aerophone made from a narrow blade of burity plant fibre that is twisted spirally into a tube and then somewhat flattened. Harcourt calls it an ocarina (vessel flute) with five fingerholes. Krautze calls it a gourd vessel flute having a narrow rectangular opening for an embouchure and two fingerholes on the opposite side, and also gives it the Savajé name ...


Aeolian (aerophones)  

Laurence Libin



Term applied generically to instruments activated by the wind. Examples include several types of instrument with the prefix Aeolian, notably the Aeolian harp. The term may also denote an instrument whose sound imitates that of the wind, for example the Wind machine.

See also Aeolian ; Aeolian harp ; Wind chime ; Wind machine ...



Howard Mayer Brown

revised by Frances Palmer

General term for musical instruments that produce their sound by setting up vibrations in a body of air. Aerophones form one of the original four classes of instruments (along with idiophones, membranophones and chordophones) in the hierarchical classification devised by E.M. von Hornbostel and C. Sachs and published by them in Zeitschrift für Ethnologie in 1914 (Eng. trans. in GSJ, xiv, 1961, pp.3–29, repro. in Ethnomusicology: an Introduction, ed. H. Myers, London, 1992, pp.444–61). Their system, which draws on that devised by Victor-Charles Mahillon for the Royal Conservatory in Brussels and is widely used today, divides instruments into groups which employ air, strings, membranes or sonorous materials to produce sounds. Various scholars, including Galpin (Textbook of European Instruments, London, 1937) and Sachs (History of Musical Instruments, New York, 1940), have suggested adding electrophones to the system, but it has not yet been formally extended.

Aerophones are subdivided into ‘free aerophones’ (e.g. the bullroarer), in which vibrations are set up in a body of air unconfined by the structure of the instrument, and wind instruments where the air is enclosed inside a tube or vessel. The latter group includes those instruments where sound is produced by directing a stream of air against an edge (flutes and duct flutes), by the vibration of a reed, or by the vibration of the player’s lips. Each category is further subdivided according to the more detailed characteristics of an instrument. A numeric code, similar to the class marks of the Dewey decimal library classification system, indicates the structure and physical function of the instrument. The Hornbostel-Sachs classification (from the ...




A device invented by the German flautist Bernhard Samuels in 1911. By means of a tube with a mouthpiece, it provides players of wind instruments with air from bellows operated by the foot and thus enables them to sustain notes indefinitely as on the organ. Although Richard Strauss called for it in his ...





Ferdinand J. de Hen


End-blown gourd trumpet of the Logo people of the northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. About 90 cm long, it consists of three hollow calabashes joined in a line and adhered together with clay. The Logo call the instrument also by other vernacular names such as akoti, aori, and kanga...



Peter Cooke

Sets of side-blown trumpets formerly of the Alur people of northwestern Uganda. Ranging in length from 50 to 200 cm, they are made by splitting a wooden branch lengthwise and carving each half into a gently conical wooden trough. The halves are then glued together and sewn into a cowskin cover. Used in hocketing sets of up to eight different-size trumpets for dancing and other festivities, they were formerly played only by men but in 2006 members of an Alur women’s club adopted them. In Kampala, male university students blow them while processing around their campuses during electioneering rallies and other festivities. Similar trumpets used by other peoples of northern Uganda include the Acholi tuum, the Madi turi or ture turungule, the generally shorter gwara me akuta of Lango, and the arupepe of the Teso and Karimojong peoples in the northeast.

The Para-nilotic word-stem gwara applied to side-blown trumpets occurs also in the terminology of Bantu peoples, hinting at the historic influence of Nilotic migrants on their culture, hence the ...


Air column  

Philip Bate

revised by Murray Campbell

The body of air inside a tubular wind instrument. When a note is sounded the air column is in a state of longitudinal vibration, i.e. subject to a cyclic succession of local compressions and rarefactions (see Acoustics §IV 2.). The frequency of these disturbances determines the pitch of the sound heard; it is governed mainly by the form and dimensions of the air column (see Bore), but also to an extent by the way in which the disturbances are engendered. Frequency is affected by such factors as the temperature and moisture content of the air, frictional effects at the surface of the confining tube or vessel and the transfer of viscous energy among its particles. When the column is in vibration the periodic disturbances do not terminate abruptly at the ends of the confining tube but extend a short distance into the surrounding air. Thus it is necessary to apply a correction factor when determining its effective or ...



Hugh Davies

[formerly Melodica]

A keyboard harmonica manufactured in soprano and alto versions by Hohner in Trossingen from 1958 and rebranded in 2016 as the Airboard; the name Melodica is nowadays still used generically. The instrument, which has 19th-century counterparts such as the harmonicor, is rectangular and has a mouthpiece at the upper end. The diatonic keys are played by the right hand and the chromatic ones by the left; it can produce many chords and clusters that are impossible on the harmonica, but whereas in the latter some reeds sound when sucked and others when blown, the Airboard reeds sound only when they are blown. Because it is made of plastic (apart from the reeds, which are metal), the Airboard can be mass-produced at low cost; this and the ease with which learners can master the keyboard and mouthpiece (a straight or bent tube that opens out into the reed chamber) have made it very popular in schools, especially in Asia, as an alternative to the recorder or other woodwind instruments. It has also been called for by composers such as Steve Reich (...