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Article

John Okell

[walet-chaùng]

Clapper of Myanmar. It is made from a piece of bamboo approximately 90 to 120 cm long, split in half and narrowed down most of its length, leaving a short split section full-width at the top, and another short section whole at the bottom to hold the two halves together and act as a hinge. The player grips the narrowed lengths, one half in each hand, and strikes the top sections together. The ...

Article

Don Cusic

revised by Travis D. Stimeling

[Crosby, Ronald Clyde ]

(b Oneonta, NY, March 16, 1942). American folk and country singer, guitarist, and songwriter. A high-school dropout, he traveled around the United States playing banjo, guitar, and other instruments and singing a repertory consisting principally of songs by Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, and Jimmie Rodgers. By the early 1960s, he was performing at Greenwich Village folk clubs and on college campuses across the country, finding particular success among Texan audiences in Houston, Dallas–Fort Worth, and Austin. In 1966, while in Austin, he met Bob Bruno, with whom he formed the folk-rock band Circus Maximus; it recorded an album for Vanguard in 1967.

Around the same time, Walker also earned success as a songwriter, notably with “Mr. Bojangles” (1968), a hit for the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band in 1971. Also in 1971, Walker relocated to Texas, where he became a luminary in Austin’s emerging progressive country music scene. In ...

Article

Waning  

Andrew C. McGraw

[laba wai, wani, laba]

Drum of Flores, Indonesia. It has a cylindrical wooden body, often closed at the bottom, and one goatskin head affixed by leather straps attached to a counterhoop. The head is tuned by moving wooden pegs placed between the straps and the body of the drum. Two are used in the gong waning ensemble in the central Sikka region: the larger waning inan, about 35 cm in diameter and 60 cm long, played with a bare hand and a stick in the other hand, and the smaller waning anak, about 25 cm in diameter, played with two sticks. The drums lie on the ground, the musicians sitting upon them. The ensemble includes up to five medium-sized, shallow bossed gongs (gong or go) ranging from 35 to 20 cm in diameter and named, from low to high pitch: inan, depun, beit, udon, and anak. Single gongs are held in the left hand and struck with a rubber-padded mallet held in the right, performing rapid interlocking patterns; the gong is dampened against the chest. These patterns are semi-improvised, the higher gongs being allowed more freedom. One or two larger suspended gongs may be added to play slower ostinatos. A bamboo time keeper (...

Article

Wankara  

J. Richard Haefer

[wankarita]

Two-headed log drum of the Bolivian Alti Plano. It is about 50 cm in diameter and about 15 cm deep; the heads, of goat or sheep hide, are laced together in a V pattern. It has a snare (chariera) across the bottom head made from animal intestines to which cactus spines can be attached to amplify the resonance. It is played with a drumstick (baqueta, wajta) about 30 cm long tipped with a 7-cm hide ball. The drum accompanies Quechua ensembles of pinkillos (duct flutes), sikuris (panpipes), lakitas (panpipes), or paceños (end-blown notched flutes). The drums are played in groups of seven in the sikuri ensembles.

The similar pfutu-wankara is a higher-pitched, double-headed log drum about 60 cm deep and 45 cm in diameter. The drum stick is similar to that of the wankara but with a smaller leather ball. Indians and mestizos use these drums in the dance of the ...

Article

Caroline Polk O’Meara

(b 1948). American music critic. Ward was an early contributor to the rock magazines Crawdaddy!, Rolling Stone, and Creem. He moved from California to Texas at the end of the 1970s, where he was on staff at the Austin American Statesman (1979–84). While in Austin, he also wrote regularly for the Austin Chronicle and worked as a consultant for the music festival South by Southwest. His writings combine personal anecdotes (often self-effacing) and historical background, dwelling less on musical detail and more on events and people. Along with Geoffrey Stokes and Ken Tucker, Ward wrote the 1986 Rock of Ages: the Rolling Stone History of Rock & Roll. His contribution to the volume covered the early days of rock and roll through 1959. Since 1987, he has served as the rock and roll historian for National Public Radio’s talk show “Fresh Air.” His contributions to “Fresh Air” are most often artist profiles, obituaries, and reviews of retrospective box sets. Ward has lived in Europe since the 1990s, where he hosted a jazz radio show in Berlin and continues to work as a freelance writer....

Article

Bill C. Malone

revised by Joti Rockwell

[Arthel Lane ]

(b Deep Gap, NC, March 3, 1923; d Winston-Salem, NC, May 29, 2012). American country- and folk-music singer, guitarist, banjoist, and harmonica player. Blind likely from birth, he was active as a local musician until his 1960 encounter with folklorist Ralph Rinzler. He gave his first northern concerts as part of a group led by the banjoist Clarence “Tom” Ashley and subsequently pursued an independent career, performing at the Newport Folk Festival and signing with Vanguard Records in 1963. At Rinzler’s suggestion, he emphasized more traditional musical elements, focused his efforts on the acoustic rather than the electric guitar, and gained popularity among folk-revival audiences throughout the 1960s. His son (Eddy) Merle (b Deep Gap, NC, 8 Feb 1949; d nr Lenoir, NC, 23 Oct 1985) began performing with him in 1964 and quickly developed as an acoustic guitarist. In 1972, Watson joined “Mother” Maybelle Carter, Earl Scruggs, and other leading country-music artists on ...

Article

Labour song associated with the finishing or waulking of handwoven tweed in Gaelic areas of Scotland. Tweed waulking was traditionally a communal activity of women, who sang the songs, alternating between a soloist and chorus, to coordinate their physical efforts and to relieve the monotony of their work. See Scotland, §II, 5, (ii)...

Article

Richard D. Driver

Folk group. The Weavers were formed in 1948 in Greenwich Village, New York, by Ronnie Gilbert (b New York, NY, 7 Sept 1926; vocals), Lee Hays (b Little Rock, AR, 14 March 1914; d Croton-on-Hudson, NY, 26 Aug 1981; guitar, vocals), Fred Hellerman (b Brooklyn, NY, 13 May 1927; guitar, vocals), and Pete(r) R. Seeger (b New York, 3 May 1919; guitar, banjo, vocals). Hays and Seeger previously founded the Almanac Singers in the early 1940s. The Weavers enjoyed commercial success in the early 1950s, and influenced the folk revival of the 1950s and 60s, but the group was blacklisted during the Red Scare for political associations.

In 1950, the Weavers signed to Decca Records and released a cover of Lead Belly’s “Goodnight Irene” backed with the Israeli dance song “Tzena, Tzena, Tzena”; both songs eventually hit number one. In 1950, Seeger came under scrutiny for past Communist associations, and Decca canceled the group’s contract, deleting their material from the label catalog. In ...

Article

Ryan Kirk

The phrase “old weird America” was coined by author Greil Marcus in his book Invisible Republic: Bob Dylan’s Basement Tapes (1998) and refers to what he perceived as an eerie strand of country, blues, and American folk music featured on Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music. In Marcus’s view the music of Bob Dylan and the members of the Band was a continuation of the sensibility of this eerie brand of Americana. Subsequent editions of Marcus’s book were retitled The Old, Weird America: the World of Bob Dylan’s Basement Tapes, placing even more emphasis on the phrase. The label has since been applied retrospectively to the work of many outsider folk artists of the 1950s and 1960s, including guitarists John Fahey and Robbie Basho.

Journalist David Keenan, writing in The Wire, used the phrase “new weird America” to describe the musical aesthetic of a number of younger American artists. The label has since blossomed into a genre proper, characterized by diverse sonic influences ranging from psychedelic rock, electronica, free jazz, American folk music, and ethnic traditions and rooted in a grassroots, indie culture of independent record labels, self-releases, and small, intimate shows that often take place in back-to-the-land style settings. Representative artists include MV & EE, Sunburned Hand of the Man, and the Mountain Goats. Related genres include psychedelic folk and freak folk....

Article

Terry E. Miller

Gong chime of Thailand. Seven khawng chai gongs hang vertically, each in its own frame within an octagonally shaped stand. The player sits within this stand. It was devised in the late 19th century for performances of a theatrical drama called duek dam ban but is rarely used nowadays.

See also...

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

Vasil S. Tole

(b Përmet, Albania, May 12, 1924; d Tirana, Albania, April 9, 1992). Albanian opera and folk singer. He was named People’s Artist of Albania in 1975. He was born in a family of traditions in folk music and dance. He spent his childhood in his hometown. In 1943, he joined the guerrillas and became part of the (guerrilla) army music bands. He joined the choir of the Army Ensemble at its creation in 1946. From 1952 to 1955 he studied singing at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow. Afterwards, he was nominated soloist at the Theatre of Opera in Tirana, where he sang most of his bass-baritone repertory, including the song Për ty atdhe (‘For You Homeland’) by Pjetër Gaci (1931–95), the romance O ju male (‘Oh You Mountains’) by Çesk Zadeja (1927–97), and arias from the cannonic repertory. He made his first recordings of iso-polyphonic songs with ...

Article

Xiyaogu  

Alan R. Thrasher

Hourglass-shaped drum of the Han Chinese, historically known as zhanggu (‘stick drum’). Several related drum types were introduced from India or Central Asia into the Chinese courts of the Sui and Tang dynasties (6th to early 10th centuries ce), though according to Chen Yang’s Yueshu (‘Treatise on music’) of 1104, the zhanggu was obtained from Central Asia when Fu Jian (338–85) invaded the state of Kucha. Chen points out that in later times the zhanggu was distinguishable by its playing technique: a stick was used to strike the right head, the open hand playing the left. Their common feature is the South Asian tradition of lacing the two drumheads together, rather than tacking them onto the body. Body contour and striking method, however, differ from one historic type to another.

The xiyaogu (‘narrow waist drum’)—not to be confused with the barrel-shaped yaogu (‘waist drum’) which is merely held at the waist—is a large hourglass-shaped drum (between 60 and 80 cm long), with overwide heads attached to metal hoops (about 40 cm in diameter) extending beyond the body rims and secured by connective lacing. Historically, the body was constructed from either wood or ceramic. It was played by dancer-musicians, and was suspended from the neck with a strap and struck with a stick in one hand and open palm of the other. The ...

Article

Xyu  

[xi-u, pí lè]

Wooden oboe, akin to the Chinese suona, of the Hmong people of northern Vietnam, Laos, northeastern Thailand, and southern China. It has six fingerholes and a thumbhole and is played for instance at receptions of important guests, funerals, and weddings.

L.Ó Briain: Hmong Music in Northern Vietnam: Identity, Tradition and Modernity...

Article

Henry Johnson

[rōko]

Barrel drum of Japan. The name refers to its former context of performance (yagura or : turret/tower). The drum is especially known for its use in sumō (Japanese wrestling), when it announces the event, and from some historical kabuki performances, when the drum was positioned atop a high stage. It is about 60 cm long and 27 cm in diameter. The two heads are affixed to the wooden body by one or two rows of broad-headed nails. The drum can be positioned in several ways, including placing it on a tiny stand at a 45-degree angle in front of the player, who kneels perpendicular to the drum, or on a high stand at a similar angle for a standing player. The higher head is struck by two slender wooden sticks.

M. Yamaguchi: ‘Sumo in the Popular Culture of Contemporary Japan’, The Worlds of Japanese Popular Culture: Gender, Shifting Boundaries and Global Cultures...

Article

Yagwìn  

John Okell

Article

Alastair Dick

Drone spike lute of Sindh, Pakistan. Its name means literally ‘monochord’, like the South Asian ektār, of which it is the Sindi equivalent, although it generally has two strings. A round-section wooden neck, terminating in a lathe-turned bobbin at each end, passes through two-thirds of a skin-covered gourd. The metal strings pass from two frontal pegs at the upper end over a clay or metal bridge in the middle of the skin soundtable and are affixed to the lower end of the neck. The yaktāro is held over one shoulder and plucked by the forefinger, the player often holding in his other hand the ḍaṇḍo (stick rattle) or capṙun (clappers) to accompany his own singing of kāfi or kalām Sufi songs; an accompaniment is often also provided by a clay pot (the dilo or the ghaghar). As well as a drone the yaktāro provides rhythmic backing in various tār...

Article

Yāḻ  

Alastair Dick

[yāzh]

Name of the arched harp in old Tamil literature of South India. In the Cilappatikāram (?2nd century ce) and other texts it is described as having a resonator (pattar: ‘wooden trough’); a skin-covered, curved neck (kōṭu: ‘horn’) to which the strings (narampu: ‘gut’) are attached at one end by leather tuning-cords (tivavu); and, probably, a string-bar (tantirikaram) in the resonator to which the strings are attached at the other end (possibly called oṟṟuṟupu). It has been said to have had a tuning-bar (māṭakam), an oblong piece of wood lying on the resonator, with holes through which the strings passed, and pins (āṇi) to hold them tight. Reference is made to yāḻ with 7, 14, 19, and 21 strings, in different tunings. The harp was covered with a colourful cloth and used to accompany song and in the dance orchestra, where it followed the ...

Article

Henry Johnson

Type of long-neck Japanese lute. The instrument is named after Yanagawa Kengyō (d 1680), a blind male professional musician who influenced much shamisen music of his time. The instrument is thought to be very similar to the one used early in the shamisen’s existence in Japan, in the latter half of the 16th century. Its distinctive features include its particularly thin neck (hosozao, about 2.4 cm wide), a large curve just before the neck enters the soundbox (although some other types of shamisen also have this curve in contrast to the jiuta shamisen), a very slender ivory plectrum with a narrow spatula-shaped end, and a small piece of brocade on the top of the soundbox upon which players rest the right arm whilst playing (in contrast to a cover on other shamisen that fits over the entire top part of the box). The instrument is used especially in the Yanagawa-ryū ...

Article

Yazheng  

Han Mei

Bowed half-tube zither of China (ya: ‘creak’; zheng: ‘zither’). The instrument is mentioned in the Jiu Tangshu (‘Old History of the Tang Dynasty’, completed 945 ce) with the comment, ‘The yazheng is made to creak with a slip of bamboo, moistened at its tip’. An early illustration of the yazheng appears in Chen Yang’s Yueshu (‘Treatise on Music’) of 1104, showing a long zither with a slightly convex soundboard (closely resembling a zheng), approximately nine strings, and an L-shaped playing implement. Yazheng was also referred to as qin (a different character from the seven-string scholar’s zither) from the Song to the Ming dynasties. The 13th-century encyclopedia Shilin guangji (‘Comprehensive Record of the Forest of Affairs’) states that the instrument had seven strings, each with a movable bridge underneath. Da Qing huidian tu (‘Illustrations for the Compendium of Administrative Laws of Qing’, 1899) describes the yazheng as having ten strings played with a straight wooden stick....