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date: 14 November 2019


  • Andrew C. McGraw


Wooden clapper bell of Bali, Indonesia. The traditional Balinese cowbell, a trapezoidal wooden bell about 25 cm wide and 20 cm tall with a bulging centre and one or two wooden clappers, has long been used as a folk instrument in the western districts of Jembrana and Tambanan. Nowadays it appears in various shapes and sizes and is often included in larger ensembles. Different cavity shapes produce different sounds. Some bells are simply hollowed blocks while others have a hole in the centre of the bottom of the block that opens into a larger cavity. A narrow slit, which opens into this cavity, is cut from either side of this hole to the edges of the block, as in a slit drum. The clappers are about 1.5 cm in diameter and 15 cm long. The bell hangs from a rope around the musician’s neck. The player holds the bell by the lower edge beside the slit, shaking it with both hands to produce a sharp percussive tone. Several bells played together sound complex, semi-improvised interlocking patterns similar to those of the ...

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