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Article

Tumank  

John M. Schechter

revised by J. Richard Haefer

[tsayantur]

Mouth bow of the Shuar (Jívaro) people of the Ecuadorian Oriente region, made from guadúa cane-bamboo. It is plucked with the fingernails; the player’s mouth serves as a resonator. It is used in courting to accompany love songs at sunset. The paruntsi is a similar instrument made from a bent cherry-wood sapling with a string of gut or ...

Article

Mervyn McLean

Mouth bow of Hawaii. It is reputed to be the only indigenous Hawaiian string instrument. It usually has two, or sometimes three strings, traditionally of plant fibre (later of horsehair or gut), stretched over a flexible wooden stave 3 to 4 cm wide and 40 to 60 cm long; the strings are attached in notches or holes at one end and wound around a fishtail-like carving at the other. The upper surface of the stave is flat and the under surface slightly convex. The wood (typically kauila or ulei) is held at one end between the lips and the strings are plucked with the fingers or a plectrum made of the midrib of a leaf; the player might chant while sounding the instrument. Most specimens have small bridges inserted to keep the strings from touching the stick. Three-string instruments are tuned to tonic, 3rd, and 4th, or tonic, 2nd, and 4th. Most two-string instruments have strings a 3rd or 4th apart. The ...

Article

Zaneta Ho‘oūlu Cambra

Hawaiian vessel rattle. It is made from a single small gourd receptacle containing seeds, fitted with a fibre handle surmounted by an artistically designed flat circular disc fringed with feathers. In 1779 Captain James Cook and his men witnessed the hula ‘ulī’ulī (gourd-rattle dance) at Kealakekua, Hawaii. The male ‘ōlapa...

Article

Laurence Libin

Hawaiian spinning rattle, played for instance by a hula dancer while dancing or chanting, or by children as a toy. It consists of three laamia gourds mounted axially on a stick, two of them large and spherical flanking a smaller, somewhat oblong gourd that serves as a grip. The outer gourds, which often contain rattling seeds, spin and whizz when a cord wound around the stick is pulled quickly through a hole in the middle gourd. When released, the cord winds again around the stick in the manner of a yo-yo. Similar instruments elsewhere include the Turkish ...

Article

Victoria Lindsay Levine

End-blown duct flute of the Choctaw people of Mississippi, USA. Made by medicine men from a local river cane, the flutes are about 30 cm long and 2.5 cm in diameter, with two fingerholes near the distal end. An opening in the tube about one quarter of the length below the proximal end is partially filled with pine pitch to direct the airflow against the lower lip of the opening. Some flutes are decorated with a medicine man’s personal mark or other symbols, such as a snake design, burnt onto the flute’s upper side; the proximal end is often wrapped with leather. It is played by medicine men before and during stickball games to conjure for their teams. Formerly, Chickasaw medicine men played similar instruments and the Delaware used them at the start of communal dance songs to encourage the dancers. Each tribe has its own word for cane flutes....

Article

Mary Riemer-Weller

revised by J. Richard Haefer

End-blown flute of the Tohono O’odham (Papago) Indians of southern Arizona and northern Sonora, Mexico. It consists of two internode sections of wa:pk (‘river cane’, Phragmites communis) and about 4 cm of each adjoining section for a total length of 48 to 55 cm and 2.5 to 4 cm diameter. The two end nodes are perforated, but the centre node is left intact and is bridged by a rectangular hole cut in the side of the instrument and covered with a piece of cloth or leather. Three fingerholes are cut in the lower portion of the flute. The index finger of the left hand is placed over the cloth or leather to help direct the air over the internal partition, thus creating a flue for the passage of air, and allowing for minor adjustments in the airstream. The fingerholes are controlled by the right hand.

One does not ‘play’ the flute but rather ‘sings’ it. Although the cane flute may have been used as a courting instrument and in the ...

Article

J. Richard Haefer

[xaws mewktses]

Scallop-shell rattle of indigenous peoples of the North American northwest coast. The term literally means ‘shellfish rattle’ in the Kwakwa̲ka̲’wakw language; xaws mewktses means ‘new rattle’ in Salish. It exists in two forms: (1) A number of scallop shells strung on a long cord, with the concave sides of pairs of shells facing each other; the rattle is shaken by hand; (2) Two pairs of shells tied to cord held in a dancer’s fist. The rattles are said to have come to the Kwakwa̲ka̲’wakw from the Coast Salish of Comox and are used in the ...

Article

J. Richard Haefer

Marimba of Central America. Popular in both mestizo and indigenous cultures since the 19th century, it is found from southern Mexico south through Nicaragua and is a predecessor of the modern Mexican-Guatemalan marimba. It is distinguished from the modern marimba by its small size (rarely more than three octaves) and the use of gourds as resonators for the bars (...