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date: 15 January 2021

Ma̲dzis [kingáan, hat’awt’isk]locked

  • Klisala Harrison


[kingáan, hat’awt’isk]

Terms for whistles and reed instruments of First Nations peoples of the North American Pacific Northwest, including the Kwakwa̲ka̲’wakw (ma̲dzis), Haida (kingáan), Nuuchahnulth, Tlingit, Tsimshian (hat’awt’isk), and Coast Salish. The instruments appear with and without fingerholes and can be blown by mouth or mechanically. The mouth-blown whistles appear in three forms: stopped pipes, half-stopped pipes, and open pipes. Some older literature and museum catalogues use the term sk’a’na to denote Haida (Xa’ida, Skittagetan) single- and multiple-pipe whistles. The mouth-blown reed instruments include single reeds, double reeds, retreating reeds, and ribbon reeds.

(1) Mouth-blown whistles with stopped pipes have from one to six sounding chambers and fundamental pitches. The whistles are carved from straight-grained wood, preferably red cedar or spruce. Generally the whistle is oval or cylindrical; sometimes it is pear-shaped, square (having a flat face and a rounded back), or a flattened, truncated cone. A block of wood is split lengthwise along the grain. One of the resulting halves is hollowed so that its walls are very thin. In it is carved the whistle’s sounding chamber or chambers, but a small block is left uncarved at its lower end (thus stopping the pipe), as is a larger block at the upper end (for the embouchure). The other half, which will form the top side of the whistle, is hollowed in the same way, but not so deeply. An airway for the embouchure is then carved, and sometimes a lip on the outside at the embouchure opening. A mouth with an edge like that of a recorder, commonly rectangular, or a crescent, circle, or irregular shape, is cut in the top side. The mouth, in the case of a whistle with one sounding chamber, is often near the embouchure. In whistles with more than one chamber, a mouth for each is located near the top, middle, or end of the whistle. The two halves generally fit together airtight without gluing; they are bound together in one or more places with split spruce root or shredded cedar bark, or rarely with animal sinew that is painted or left in its natural form. Modern binding materials include string, gauze, and cloth. If the wood dries and shrinks over time, the joint can be made airtight again by applying resin. Paper is applied on the sides of some modern instruments....

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