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Konin Aka

Scraper of the Baule and Agni-Morofwe peoples of Ivory Coast. A serrated stick passes through a hole pierced in a nut; the right hand moves the nut along the stick against which the left hand occasionally presses a small resonator. The instrument, played only by women and young girls, is used for rhythmic accompaniment to singing for amusement....


Change ringing  

Wilfrid G. Wilson

revised by Steve Coleman

An art of bellringing peculiarly English and producing a music of its own. It was developed in England during the 17th century, while on the Continent there was a parallel, although unconnected development in the carillon.

For centuries before the development of change ringing, the general shape and form of the bell and the uses of bellringing had been established. Probably the most characteristic sound in the medieval town was that of the chiming of bells, announcing the time for prayer or simply the hour. The bells were chimed, singly or in twos or threes, by means of a rope and lever which enabled them to be swung just far enough for the clappers to strike them. They were hung in church towers because such buildings were almost the only ones large enough to contain them.

Change ringing in approximately the form we now know it began around the end of the 16th century and expanded considerably, both in popularity and complexity, during the second half of the 17th century. The adoption of change ringing as a pastime by associations of well-to-do young men in the middle of the 17th century was particularly influential in its development, although its strength has always been as a vernacular folk art. The growth of ringing is discussed by Sanderson....



Bruce Haynes

[flaté, flatté, tremblement mineur] (Fr.; Ger. Bebung)

An ornament, not unlike a trill, used in woodwind playing, produced by a quick finger movement on the edge of or above a tone hole (usually the highest open hole). It was described in Dutch, English, French and German sources from 1654 to 1847, including Jacques Hotteterre's Principes de la flûte traversière (1707). One of the few collections where it was explicitly marked was P.D. Philidor's suites (1717–18). In English the ornament was described as a ‘sweetening’ or ‘softening’ of the note. Sometimes called a ‘finger vibrato’, the flattement was not intended to be perceived as a change of pitch. It was applied selectively, usually to long notes, and was often associated with swells. The sign for the flattement (rarely marked in music) was a horizontal wavy line. The flattement afforded considerable control of both speed and amplitude, and was better suited to the short and complex phrasing of the music of the 17th and 18th centuries than modern breath vibrato; the latter is not documented before the 1790s....



Howard Mayer Brown


A word for improvised counterpoint, and especially for florid melodies added to a cantus prius factus, used in Germany from c1500 to the middle of the 17th century. The word first appeared in a German MS of c1476 ( D-Rp 98 th.4°) and shortly afterwards in Nicolaus Wollick’s Opus aureum (1501) and Enchiridion musices (1509), where sortisare (‘the improvised joining of various melodies to some chant’) was contrasted with componere, the premeditated combination of melodies interrelated by consonances but not necessarily with any reference to a cantus firmus.

The concept was described in varying degrees of detail by many 16th- and 17th-century theorists, including Andreas Ornithoparchus (1517); Heinrich Faber (1548), who divided musica poetica into sortisatio and compositio, but who rather disdained the former as more fit for the vulgar than the learned; Gallus Dressler (1563); Claudius Sebastiani (...


Tubular bells  

James Blades

revised by James Holland

[chimes, orchestral chimes] (Fr. cloches; Ger. Glocken, Röhrenglocken; It. campane, campanelle)

A set of tuned metal tubes (classified as an idiophone: set of percussion tubes). They are used for bell effects in the orchestra and on the operatic stage, real bells being cumbersome, heavy and difficult to play with rhythmic precision. Tubular bells consist of a series of brass or steel tubes ranging in diameter from about 3 to 7 cm; the greater the diameter, the longer the bell tube. The compass of the standard set of tubular bells is c′ to f″ or g″. Two-octave sets (f–f″org″) are used in continental Europe and Kolberg has produced a three-octave set (c–c‴). The tubes hang in a frame mounted in two rows, keyboard-fashion. They are struck at the top edge, which is capped or reinforced with an inner metal disc or pin. For general purposes a rawhide or plastic mallet is employed, one side usually covered with leather or felt for a contrast in tone. The bells are damped by a foot-pedal mechanism. To play one of the larger instruments, with some tubes 3 metres or more in length, the player stands on a platform; a music stand is incorporated above the instrument....