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Tesuque  

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Teton  

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J. Richard Haefer

Percussion plaque of the Aztec people of pre-Contact Mexico. The disc-shaped instrument, commonly made of copper (gold, clay, and stone were also used), was suspended by ropes and played reportedly sometimes in pairs, with metal or wood beaters, for royal dances. It was also called a caililiztli (chililitli) and reportedly played with the ...

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Tolowa  

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Tonto  

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David P. McAllester

revised by Charlotte J. Frisbie and J. Richard Haefer

[‘atsázooł cisǫ́•s]

Whistle used to represent bird calls in ceremonies of the Diné (Navajo) people of the southwestern USA. It is made from a reed stalk or the femur of an eagle and is about 15 cm long. A notch is cut into the upper side of the tube about 3 cm from the top. The tube is blocked at the notch with pitch and a rolled section of corn husk is placed over the opening to direct the air into the lower section. Some sources say the distal end is closed with pitch, but more often the whistle is played with the distal end underwater so that bird-like trills are produced. In the Shootingway ceremony, songs of the last four days are accompanied by the whistle with a beaver- or otter-skin collar attached to it, together with a basket drum (ts’aa’ náhideesh ghał). The whistle is also used in Lightningway, Mountainway, and Nightway ceremonies and those of the Native American Church....

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J. Richard Haefer

[tsii' edo'a'tl] (Apache: ‘wood singing’) [Apache fiddle]

Single- or two-string ‘fiddle’, technically a bowed tube zither, of the White Mountain and San Carlos Apache peoples of Arizona. Its origin is unknown. A 30- to 40-cm length of a dried flower stem of the agave plant (Agave angustifolia) about 5 to 7 cm in diameter is cut in half and the pith removed except for a 3-cm section left at each end to stop the tube and strengthen it. The two halves are glued back together with pine pitch and wrapped at intervals with sinew or baling wire. A lump of pinyon pine pitch might be melted onto one end to provide rosin for the bow. One string (seldom two) is attached at the proximal end and runs over two low bridges to a long tuning peg inserted laterally through the tube. One or two small soundholes, often triangular, are cut near each end. Old museum specimens are usually shorter than modern instruments, but the maker Chelsey Goseyun Wilson claims that earlier examples were made not only from the stem but also from the heart of the agave and were up to 55 cm long and 15 to 20 cm in diameter at the proximal end....

Article

David P. McAllester

revised by Charlotte J. Frisbie and J. Richard Haefer

[tsindi’ni’, cin diǹi’]

Bullroarer of the Diné (Navajo) people of the southwestern USA. It is a spatulate flat blade of wood about 20 cm long by 3 to 4 cm wide and 75 mm thick, made from lightning-struck ponderosa pine or oak, with the growing tip of the wood forming the point of the instrument. A hole is bored in the opposite end and a length of mountain sheep hide, a buckskin thong, or a cord 150 to 180 cm long is attached. It is swung by the cord to produce the sound. The wood can be painted a solid colour or with designs; it can also be decorated with three small pieces of turquoise or white shell attached with pitch on one side to create eyes and a mouth. The bullroarer is used to represent thunder, the voice of the Flint People, or supernatural noises in curing ceremonies such as Shootingway, Windway, and Red Antway. It is also used in the ceremonies of the Native American Church....

Article

J. Richard Haefer

Duct whistle of the Comanche people of Oklahoma. It is called by other names among many Plains and neighbouring Indian peoples, e.g. the Ute gusau-ōka, and the Choctaw o’skula. The whistle is made from an eagle, turkey, or goose wing bone about 10 to 18 cm long. Marrow and fat are removed and the proximal end opened for blowing. A V- or U-shaped mouth is cut on the side of the bone about a quarter of the length from the proximal end. A plug made of pitch is inserted in the bone to form a duct directing the air toward the lip of the mouth. The bone may be decorated with incised designs or covered with bead- or quill-work; white eagle feathers are usually attached near the proximal end. A leather thong is attached to the bone so the whistle can be worn around the neck of the player. Bone whistles are used for signalling and in Native American Church ceremonies and are required for the Sun Dance. In some cultures they were and may still be part of a medicine bundle....

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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 ...

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Tutelo  

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Twana  

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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 ...

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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...

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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 ...

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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....

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