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J. Richard Haefer

Suspension rattle of Iñupiat peoples of Alaska and Canada. Several dozen fin-shaped, 2-cm pieces of walrus tusk are sewn on a dancer’s arm wrapping made from a strip of sealskin about 25 to 30 cm long. Around the top of the wrapping is stitched a circle of polar bear fur. Some believe that the sound of the rattle represents the north wind....



Jeremy Montagu


Abuk waak  

Gordon D. Spearritt

Water drum of the Iatmul people, Papua New Guinea. It is made of hardwood, similar in shape to an hourglass drum, but lacks a membrane and has a projecting handle at the top, carved as the tail of a crocodile. When plunged into a water-filled pit, it produces sound as it breaks the surface, the sound representing the voice of an ancestor such as a crocodile. It is used mostly in or near ceremonial houses at initiation ceremonies. The term ‘abuk waak’ also refers to a senior age grade among Iatmul men and to the crocodile procession that precedes the initiation ceremony. Another water drum, the kamikaula, is in the shape of an upturned dish; during initiation, pairs of them are dropped upside down using ropes into a pit which might or might not contain water. Such water drums appear to be unique to the Middle Sepik region....



Febo Guizzi


Name for the triangle in Southern Italy (su triángulu in Sardinia). Acciaio (steel) literally means the steel tool used to light a fire by striking it with a flint. The triangle is widely used in Central and Southern Italy. In Sardinia it is played with the tumbarinu (double-headed cylindrical drum), the organetto (accordion), the pipiolu, pipaiolu, or sulittu (duct flutes of different areas of Sardinia), and the Jew’s harp. In Campania and Calabria it is often made by the Roma (Gypsy) blacksmiths who also make and sell Jew’s harps. In genre painting of the 17th and 18th centuries it is depicted as the instrument of beggars, while in Neapolitan Nativity scenes it appears as an instrument of wandering ensembles. The latter use is widely attested in the 19th and 20th centuries, particularly by the Viggianesi ensembles (with the harp of Viggiano and other instruments), or to accompany the hurdy-gurdy or violin. In wandering ensembles, the triangle is usually played by a child....



Malena Kuss

[atcheré, güira]

Afro-Cuban vessel rattle of Yoruba origin. It is made from the shell of a güira, totuma, or calabaza fruit, typically about 10 cm in diameter, with rattling objects inserted and a long wooden handle attached. It is associated mostly with the batá drum ensemble in Santería ceremonies involving dancing, and participates in other instrumental groups, such as those for the Regla de Palo Monte, Arará, Gangá, Radá, conga, ...



James Holland

Dutch manufacturer of percussion instruments. Adams Musical Instruments was established at the end of the 1960s by André Adams at Thorn in the Netherlands. Adams has become one of the leading percussion manufacturers in the world. Its list of products range from lightweight, low-priced pedal timpani designed for schools and bands, through to top of the range professional timpani and concert marimbas. A great deal of thought is given to the adaptability and portability of the instruments, as well as to their quality. For example, playing height of their keyboard instruments is adjustable, and their tubular bells may be adjusted both for height and range. In the contemporary world of percussion these refinements are invaluable for the player. Adams now manufactures timpani, xylophones, marimbas, tubular bells, bell plates, concert bass drums, temple blocks and a range of sticks....



Laurence Libin

Keyboard idiophone invented in 1818 and patented on 15 Feb 1819 by the Viennese clockmaker Franz Schuster. Shaped somewhat like a square piano, it had six octaves of plucked steel tongues or rods instead of strings and its sound was described as between those of an organ and a glass armonica. It was claimed not to need tuning. Contemporary writers mentioned that it lacked sonority and strength of tone, and complained of excessive resonance and blurring of notes....


Adorno rattle  

Laurence Libin

Term for an anthropo- or zoomorphic ceramic rattle of the pre-Contact Americas. In American archaeology ‘adorno’ (from Sp. adornar, ‘to decorate’) generally refers to a decoration attached to the rim (not the side) of a ceramic vessel. Many adornos have been broken off, perhaps intentionally, and are found separately. A significant number of these attached or detached effigies, typically about 6 cm tall or larger, are hollow and contain well-formed, loose pellets, also made of ceramic and fired together with the effigy and its vessel. In the USA adorno rattles have been found in pre-Mississippian and Mississippian-era sites, most examples dating from about 1200 to 1400 ce. Five examples (preserved by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History), recovered in the late 19th century from the Lake George mound site in the Yazoo-Mississippi River delta, have been studied; their quiet sound has been associated speculatively with the heartbeat of the clan entities represented by the effigies....



Raymond Ammann

[Drehu: itra pë; Iaaï: bwinj-bet]

Idiophone of the Loyalty Islands (off New Caledonia). It joins most of the choral singing that accompanies dances. The names of the instrument reflect ideas associated with unity or being struck. It is a disc-shaped parcel, 20 to 30 cm in diameter and 10 to 15 cm thick, typically of coconut fibres covered by leaves of the tree Macaranga vedeliana. Other plant materials can be used as well. A string is affixed firstly on top of the bundle to hold the parcel together. As more leaves are added, the string will be passed enough times around the parcel to hold all the leaves tightly. Lastly a separate string goes around the parcel’s sides. In the centre of the upper side a sling is formed of the string, so that the musician can pass a finger through it to hold the instrument while it is struck with the palm of the other hand. Sometimes it is also struck against the thigh. The instrument is played by men and women....


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 ...



Jeremy Montagu



[ággüe, aggüé, chekeré]

Afro-Cuban rattle. It is a large gourd with a net of beads or seeds on cords around the outside acting as external strikers. It can be shaken or struck with the palm of the hand and might be played in groups of three different sizes, the largest about 50 cm long. Nowadays a tin sphere sometimes substitutes for the gourd; it is distinct from the ...



J. Gansemans, K.A. Gourlay, and Ferdinand J. de Hen

[abongboya, magbomboyo]

Lamellaphone of the Rubi-Haut-Uele area of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It has a box-shaped bark resonator and six to eight wooden tongues fastened to the soundboard by raffia fibre. According to de Hen a lamellaphone of this type, with wooden or metal tongues, is known by the Badjande people as ...



David P. McAllester

revised by J. Richard Haefer

Term used by the Navajo of the southwestern USA for various rattles. It can also denote the decorated stick carried in the Enemyway ceremony, representing the power of Changing Woman and Enemy Slayer. ‘Aghááł nímaazígíí is the name for a wild gourd rattle, ndilkal ‘aghááł that for the Peyote rattle, which is made from a small wild gourd. The ‘adee ‘aghááł vessel rattle is made from a bottle gourd about 16 cm tall, with a wooden handle (usually of cottonwood root) attached through the open end. The gourd is normally painted in ritual designs and may have a small eagle plume attached to the end of the handle that protrudes through the blossom end of the gourd. The feather represents rain clouds and the power of the eagle; the gourd itself connotes plant growth and fertility. The rattle is carried in the yeibichai (‘grandfathers of the gods’) dance of the Nightway ceremony. Masked and painted dancers, the ...



Alastair Dick


A Sanskrit term found in the older, Vedic literature of India (c1500–500 bce). It has often been translated ‘cymbals’, probably by association with the distinct word āghāta (‘percussion’; from han: ‘strike’); the root of āghā ṭá might connect better with gha ṭṭ, suggesting rubbing, friction. The Ṛgveda...



K.A. Gourlay and John M. Schechter

revised by Amanda Villepastour, Alice L. Satomi, and Nina Graeff

(Port. agogô)

A Yorùbán term for a clapperless bell of the Yorùbá-, Igala-, and Edo-speaking peoples of Nigeria. The Yorùbá agogo can be single or double (one above the other, called agogo oníbéjì from ìbejì, ‘twins’); it is struck with a metal or wooden beater. The agogo (also the Yorùbá term for ‘clock’ or ‘watch’) plays the timeline in a range of drum ensembles and popular music bands. It can also be used in ensembles comprised only of agogo which play interlocking parts as song accompaniment, notably in the Ifá and Ọbàtálá cults. The Igala distinguish between the agogo (also known as ogege or ugege) and the larger ceremonial enu. The agogo, usually single (except near the Igbo border where double bells are found), is used for signalling or to accompany song and dance. The enu is made from a curved plate, welded to give an oval cross-section, and is 68 cm to 83 cm tall and 55 to 68 cm wide; it may be single or double, again one above the other. These ceremonial bells are associated with different titles, all of them high in the king-making system, and they are normally kept in the ancestral shrine. Among the Edo/Bini the terms ...


Agong a bentong  



Gini Gorlinski

Bronze bossed gong of Minangkabau communities in western Sumatra, Indonesia. It varies in size and pitch but typically measures about 50 cm in diameter and provides a low-pitched rhythmic foundation for various ensembles, particularly the talempong duduak (‘sitting talempong’) gong chime ensemble. Depending on local tradition, the aguang may be suspended from a rack and struck with a wooden or metal beater, or placed on the ground or on the thigh of its seated player and struck with a stick. Its sound commonly marks the initiation of various rituals (often signalling that a water buffalo has been slaughtered) and other formal events. The ...



José Maceda

[ageng, agong, egong, egung, gong]

Suspended bossed gong of Mindanao, Sulu, Palawan, Mindoro, Sarawak, Sabah, Brunei, peninsular Malaysia, Kalimantan and other parts of Indonesia. There are various sizes. Larger gongs measure approximately 60 cm in diameter, with a boss about 8 cm high and a rim about 24 cm wide. The degree to which the rim is turned in also varies, as do the instrument’s profile, weight and thickness. The smallest agung are those of the Tiruray people of Mindanao; they have a diameter of about 27 cm and rims about 4 cm wide.

Among several cultural groups in insular South-east Asia instruments of the agung type are important in rituals of possession. The Magindanaon people of Mindanao and the Modang of east Kalimantan use it in curing ceremonies, and in Palawan island it is played in wine-drinking rituals. The Iban of Sarawak use the agung at feasts (gawai) related to rice cultivation, at weddings, at the making of a new house and in curing the sick. In east Kalimantan the gong is a semi-sacred object and a symbol of honour and prestige....