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date: 22 November 2019


  • Mary Riemer-Weller


An idiophone, the ‘foot drum’ of the Maidu Indians of California, also known among other north and central Californian peoples. The foot drum, so-called because it was stamped upon with the feet, was made from a log (usually sycamore) about 1.5 to 1.8 m long and about 60 cm in diameter. The log was split lengthwise and one half was hollowed out by charring and scraping to form a half cylinder open at both ends. The log was placed, hollowed side down, over a shallow trench dug into the ground which functioned as a resonating chamber. It was played by two or three men who either stood on the log and stamped their feet in time with the singing or stood beside the drum and pounded it with heavy sticks or clubs. The clubs, more than 1 metre long, were held vertically like pestles.

Considerable care was taken during the manufacture of a drum and the finished instrument was treated as a revered object. It was used to accompany many kinds of musical activity, particularly religious and ceremonial....

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