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Margaret J. Kartomi

revised by Andrew C. McGraw

[bansi, bangsing, bengsi, bangsil, bahgseli, bangsiq]

Bamboo flute common in ancient Java and found nowadays in many parts of Indonesia and Malaysia. It exists as a duct flute in Minangkabau, Gayo and Alas (bangsi buluh), Siak (bansi), Halmahera (bangsil), Central Sulawesi (basing-basing), and in North Sulawesi as part of the orkes ensemble; as a ring flute in Minangkabau, Gayo, coastal Aceh, Jambi, North Sulawesi, Sangsihe, South Sulawesi, South Sumatra, West Kalimantan (bangsi), Tidore (bangseli), and Alas (bangsi buluh); as a transverse flute in Sulawesi and West Java (bangsi or bangsing); as a rice-straw flute in Alas (bangsi ngale); and as a nose flute in Semang areas of the Malay Peninsula (bangsi). In Luzon, southern Philippines, the bangsiq of the Hanunoo and the bansi of the Negrito in Bataan is an external duct flute. In the Alas area of Aceh, the ring flute is about 30–40 cm long and 3 cm in diameter. It has five or six fingerholes and a thumbhole. Below its top end there are two small holes covered with dried coconut leaf. It is played either solo by a male performer or with a ...



Alan R. Thrasher

Single-headed block drum of the Han Chinese. Ban here refers to the concept of ‘beat’; gu means ‘drum’. Other common names include danpigu (‘single-skin drum’) and xiaogu (‘small drum’). The thick body, about 25 cm in diameter and 10 cm deep, is constructed from wedges of hardwood glued together in a circle (or sometimes carved from a single block) and wrapped at the bottom with a metal band. The body is open at the bottom, and the interior tapers inward to the top, leaving a central circular opening (about 5 cm in diameter) called the guxin (‘drum heart’). This is covered with a piece of thick rigid pigskin or cowhide nailed in several rows around the outside of the body. The drum is supported in a three-legged stand in front of the player and struck on the guxin with one or two slender bamboo sticks. The tone quality is crisp, and the pitch is moderately high....



Andrew Tracey

[bango, ndyele, pango, pangwe]

Board zither of southeastern Africa made of a flat board or of a raft of papyrus stalks. Its single wire or fibre string is stretched from end to end through holes in the body of the instrument (normally seven times, but nine to 12 among the Sena, Manganja, and Barwe peoples of central Mozambique). Rough tuning is effected by friction tensioning each segment, fine tuning by moving the small bridges under each string at the player’s end. In northern Mozambique and Malawi the player usually strums all the pentatonically tuned strings with the right index finger while damping with the left fingers those notes that are not required to sound, an ancient technique used on many lyres and zithers. The bangwe, once ubiquitous in Malawi, is now rare. In central Mozambique the tuning is heptatonic; the player plucks the open strings with the fingers and thumbs of both hands, sharing a repertoire with the lamellaphones of the region. The far end of the instrument is often put into a calabash or tin can for resonance; the resonator is dotted with loose bottle tops that serve as buzzers....


Ivan Mačak

Percussion idiophone of Slovakia; the name means ‘miner’s clapper’. Like the sklárska klepačka (glassmaker’s clapper), it was a narrow, long wooden board that was struck with a wooden hammer. It usually signalled the beginning of work but was also used to signal fires, mining accidents, danger to the town, the burial of miners, and times of celebration. The first record of the miner’s ...




Zither shaped like a harp. It was invented in the USA in the 19th century. It was 90 cm tall, had 18 strings, and five to seven buttons with which to change the pitch; on the lower part of the instrument was a drum to give a banjo-like resonance. ‘Banjo Harp’ was also a trade name for a five-string banjo with a wooden soundtable and a resonator back made by the Paramount Banjo Co. (William L. Lange) in the 1920s....


Term for a banjo with four paired strings or a mandolin with a banjo-type head. Such combination types were popular novelties in the USA in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Some were patented, for example the Bandonian by William H. DeWick of Brooklyn (b 1869), patented ...



[ekón, ekóng]

Bell used by the Afro-Cuban Abakwá people. Two pieces of iron are shaped and joined with rivets or by forging or soldering, and a metal handle is attached. The joined edges are flattened so that the bell’s cross-section is somewhat oval and about 10 cm wide. Hitting it in different places produces different tones; the striker is commonly a hardwood stick....


Geneviève Dournon


End-blown trumpet of Rajasthan, north India. It is made of a brass tube about 168 cm long: one part, of cylindrical bore, is bent back in a double U shape; the other, which extends it, widens gradually and terminates in a wide, open bulbous bell shaped like a ‘barbed dish’. It is decorated with engraved or painted floral motifs. In central Rajasthan it is played principally by professional musicians, the ...





Ferdinand J. de Hen


Zither of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The name banzie is used by the Zande people, banzu by the Mangbetu and Bwa. It has a box resonator of bark and 9 to 13 liana strings.

F.J. de Hen: Beitrag zur Kenntnis der Musikinstrumente aus Belgisch Kongo und Ruanda-Urundi (Tervuren, 1960), 155–6....






Inna D. Nazina


Double-headed drum of the eastern Slavs (Ukraine, Belarus, and western regions of Russia). It is known in Belarus in two forms: the drum alone and, influenced by Turkish fashion since the 18th century, with a pair of cymbals mounted on the shell. The baraban is held with the heads vertical and is struck with a wooden beater, often tipped with leather. It is traditionally used in folk ensembles (with violin, clarinet, dulcimer, and accordion) that play at weddings and dances. According to Russian chronicles the drum was used also as a military instrument from the 11th century. The terms ‘baraban’ or ‘ruchnoy baraban’ are also used for the Buben. The baraban of Circassia and Dagestan is struck by hand rather than with a stick.

Among Russians, Komi, and the Veps, the baraban is also a pastoral percussion beam made of birch and beaten with two sticks. It is used for signals and to accompany ...




Nguyen Thuyet Phong





Alastair Dick

Term applied chiefly to central, west, and South Asian lutes signifying that the soundbox outline forms sharp points at the waist. When barbs below the waist point upward (as with some historical and extant South Asian types), the shape may be called ‘inverted barbed’. The term ‘barb’ was used by C. Sachs (...


Arvydas Karaška

(pl.: barškučiai)

Shaken rattle of Lithuania. It consists of an inflated dried animal bladder or a bird gullet filled with peas or small stones. The bladder is suspended on a cord stretched between the forks of a Y-shaped stick with a handle. Such rattles were usually made for babies. Barškučiai were also made of baked clay containing stones, by children and shepherds. They were either shaken by hand or rolled on the ground. Home-made ...



Pair of large, heavy metal cymbals (36 cm in diameter) of Assam, India. Each has a large boss, and when clashed their deep resonant tone resounds for more than 15 seconds. The bartāl is used in bargīt (devotional singing and dancing) and also as an accompaniment to various acrobatic dances. For generic discussion of South Asian cymbals, ...