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Article

Wasp  

Hugh Davies

revised by Anne Beetem Acker

Small analogue–digital hybrid synthesizer designed by Chris Huggett with rock musician Adrian Wagner and manufactured between 1978 and 1981 by their firm, Electronic Dream Plant (EDP), in Combe, near Oxford. The Wasp was also briefly available in kit form. This synthesizer has a two-octave, solid, monophonic ‘keyboard’ with pitch-bend and portamento controls; the diatonic keys, knobs, and lettering are yellow on a black background, to match the instrument’s name. For a real keyboard, it substitutes flat copper plates under a printed vinyl sticker. The conductive plates sense skin capacitance to trigger the associated pitches. The Wasp contains two oscillators, a white-noise generator, a filter, and an envelope shaper, and offers various voltage-controlled features, as well as a small built-in loud speaker and sockets for connecting to other EDP products. The circuitry incorporates a digital pitch-coding system which facilitates links with other devices, including microcomputers. In its shiny black plastic case and with batteries in place, the Wasp weighs only 1.8 kg (a deluxe version with wooden case and conventional keyboard is heavier but still easily portable). Although relatively inexpensive, small, and rather fragile, the Wasp was powerful and versatile for its time and developed an enduring following. EDP developed a still smaller model, the Gnat, with one oscillator and pulse width modulation, and the Caterpillar, a three-octave keyboard controller with four-voice polyphony. Other EDP creations included the Keytar, a guitar controller based on the Wasp, which was never produced, and a microcomputer-based 252-step sequencer called the Spider....

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

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....

Article

Yenjing  

Jeremy Montagu

Article

Yue  

Alan R. Thrasher

End-blown flute of the Han Chinese, used in court rituals. Pictographs from the late Shang dynasty (c12th century bce) show what appears to be a small panpipe-type instrument, with bamboo pipes in a single raft bound together in the middle with fibre or cord. While disagreement exists as to whether this image represents a panpipe or two or more end-blown flutes bound together, the pictograph was ultimately equated with the character yue commonly interpreted as a panpipe. Yet, the about 3rd-century bce Zhouli text indicates that the yue is a single end-blown flute with three fingerholes; the name might simply have been transferred to an instrument of this type. The yue retained this end-blown form into the 12th century ce, when it was included in a large imperial gift to Korea. As employed nowadays in government-sponsored Confucian rituals (notably in Taiwan), the yue has become an unplayed ritual flute, a lacquered bamboo tube without notch or fingerholes, carried by young male dancers....

Article

Hugh Davies

revised by Andrei Smirnov

[ Junost] (Russ.: ‘youth’)

Transistor-based analogue electronic organ. It was developed in 1965 in a special laboratory (established in 1964 by Vyacheslav Mescherin, founder of the Moscow Orchestra of Electro-musical Instruments) at the military factory for radio-electronic devices in Murom, central Russia. The Yunost’ was one of the electronic instruments that made up the V. Mescherin Band, which played dance music on Radio Moscow.

The first version, weighing about 25 kg, had a five-octave keyboard, six-octave pitch range, vibrato capability, four registers (16, 8, 4, 2), a tone-correction button, and a volume control pedal. It was based on 12 analogue top-octave oscillators with related octave dividers, covering the whole frequency range. These oscillators could be adjusted by means of 12 controls located at the rear of the instrument. Since the oscillators were unstable and always slightly out of tune, and the octave dividers produced only the square waveform, it had an easily recognizable sound. The second version (YUNOST-70), produced in ...

Article

Zabumba  

Alice L. Satomi

[zambumba, bumbol]

Snare drum of El Salvador and Brazil. It is a double-headed cylindrical drum with a wooden body 20 to 30 cm deep and 40 to 56 cm in diameter. Zabumba is also called bumbo, bombo, bumba, caixa grande, tambor grande, or Zé-Pereira, preserving some Portuguese names. It is also known as zambê in Rio Grande do Norte and alfaia or bombo in the Pernambucan maracatu dance.

Traditionally, zabumba players also make the drums. The goatskin (or other animal skin) heads are attached by a system of hoop and cords. Squeezing or loosening the cords raises or lowers the pitch. The head can also be heated by the sun or fire to stretch and tune it.

The commercial zabumba, called bumbo zabumba, used in brass and military bands, has a stainless steel or zinc body, heads made of acrylic or nylon, and rim held in place by butterfly or Allen bolts. It is 15 cm deep and 16 to 22 cm in diameter. It hangs vertically in front of the player’s chest from a shoulder strap (...

Article

Sally Sanford

A form of foot percussion involving rapid stamping and tapping of the heels and toes (shod in a flamenco shoe) in a rhythmic fashion associated with flamenco. The feet are relaxed and most of the work is done by the lower leg, which initiates the movement with a backswing of the foot by bending the knee almost 90° off the floor before dropping the foot down adjacent to the instep of the standing foot. Digs and stamps allow the dancer forward and lateral movement. Digs are executed with a backswing of the foot landing on the ball of the foot slightly behind the standing foot. The stamp (golpe) also begins with a backswing, landing with forward movement as the heel strikes the floor. Modern flamenco shoes (zapatos for women and botas for men) have thick soles and small tacks on both the toe and heel. The heel of the shoe is elevated. Female dancers face the added challenge of executing rapid footwork while wearing a heavy dress with a long train (...

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 (...

Article

Inna D. Nazina

[rozhok]

Generic term for folk clarinets or hornpipes found throughout Belarus and Russia under several specific names (e.g. pishchik, charotka, and dudka). Each name reflects certain essential characteristics of the instrument—acoustical, structural, functional, etc. The word zhaleyka is derived from Slavonic zhal (‘sad, sorrowful, mournful’), also the root of zhalnik (‘a grave’). Inhabitants of northern Belarus remember that the zhaleyka could be heard during burial ceremonies in the 1930s. The term golos (‘voice’) as applied to Belarusian instruments is related to the belief that some instruments arose from trees growing on the graves of murdered children. The soul and voice of the child were thought to move first into a sacred tree, then into the instruments made from its wood. Thus, an instrument with an extraordinary and distinctive voice is an integral feature of ancient Belarusian burial rituals. The types of zhaleyka differ in shape, size (typically 10 to 36 cm long), material (e.g. wood, straw, goose quill, reed, horn), construction, and the presence or absence of fingerholes (normally four to 12) and a bell (often of birch bark, horn, or wood). Generally it has an idioglot reed and a loud, shrill sound with a distinct nasal undertone. Typically it plays a diatonic scale spanning a 6th or 7th beginning from ...

Article

Zuoqing  

Alan R. Thrasher

(‘sitting chime’) [qing]

Bowl-shaped resting bell of the Han Chinese. The bell is hammered out of bronze and constructed in various sizes, medium-sized instruments ranging from 10 to 15 cm in diameter. The zuoqing rests on a cushion and is struck at the rim with a padded beater. A 9th-century Buddhist bell (24 cm in diameter, 19 cm deep) found in a Tang dynasty site is one of earliest of this type reported. The scholar Chen Yang, in his treatise Yueshu (c1100), called this type a bronze bowl (tongbo) but the name zuoqing (or qing) is now most common. Used in Buddhist temples, the bell is usually paired with a muyu (‘wooden fish’) of a similar size, and struck to punctuate the chanting of monks and nuns.

Liu Dongsheng and others, eds.: Zhongguo yueqi tujian [Pictorial Guide to Chinese Instruments] (Ji’nan, 1992), 85 only.

See also...

Article

Zvans  

Valdis Muktupāvels

[govju zvans, pulkstens]

Cast and forged metal bells of Latvia. Small cast bronze bells are known from the 7th century, found by archaeologists attached to shawls, belts, and other parts of female costume, usually grouped in threes. The diameter of the opening is 15 to 30 mm, and the clapper in a form of a lamella is attached inside. Cast church bells are known in Latvia from the 12th century. The bell was hung in a church tower or a separate bell tower and rung for ecclesiastic rites, for special events such as weddings and funerals, and also to sound alarms. The church bells were thought to offer protection from evil influences.

Forged bells, govju zvans, were made of thin folded brass plates, with riveted edges. A wire with an iron weight—screw-nuts or similar—was fastened inside. Such bells were hung around the necks of farm animals while grazing, especially at night.

Ī. Priedīte...