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Article

Hugh Davies

This term is used both of simplified or scaled-down versions of conventional instruments, mostly wind and percussion, and of special instruments and sound devices made by and for children. Toy instruments have existed since the earliest times, and until recently were often made from local plant and animal materials and stones; the knowledge of the construction and use of such home-made instruments still to some extent forms part of children’s private lore.

A number of toy instruments from the second half of the 18th century have become well known because they were used as a concertante group, with a chamber orchestra, in several anonymous ‘toy symphonies’ composed at Berchtesgaden near Salzburg (a manufacturing centre for toy instruments at that time); these works include a cassation, three movements from which are better known as the Toy Symphony attributed to, among others, Leopold Mozart and Michael Haydn. The instruments themselves, cuckoo and quail calls, small duct flutes, wooden trumpet, toy bugle and french horn, ratchets, rattle, triangle and drum, are now in the Museum Carolino Augusteum in Salzburg. Toy instruments similar to most of these continue to be made, and have been featured in many subsequent toy symphonies, including those by A.J. Romberg, Ignaz Lachner, Carl Reinecke, Malcolm Arnold and Joseph Horovitz....

Article

Andrew C. McGraw

[trompong misi bruk]

Rare xylophone of Bali. It has bars of wood or bamboo suspended over individual resonators made of coconut shell (beruk). The instrument typically has eight bars tuned to either the slendro or pelog tuning system, although slendro appears to be the more common. It is played by a single player with two unpadded wooden mallets in the manner of the more common bronze ...

Article

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....

Article

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....

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

Ukulele  

Thomas J. Walsh

[‘ukulele; ukulele]

A small four-string instrument of the guitar family. The ukulele is derived from a pair of Portuguese instruments first brought to Hawai’i in the late 1870s by immigrants from the island of Madeira. The ukulele (or ‘ukulele, a Hawaiian term meaning “jumping flea”) developed from the machete, a four-string Madeiran instrument. However, its tuning is taken from the first four strings of the five-string Madeiran rajão.

Ukuleles were first built in Hawai’i by three Madeiran cabinetmakers, Augusto Dias, Manuel Nunes, and Jose do Espirito Santo, all of whom arrived in Hawai’i in 1879. After serving their agricultural contracts, all three eventually settled in Honolulu. By 1885, each was advertising the various instruments he was building. Machetes and rajãoes quickly became known on the islands by a number of other names, most commonly “taro-patch guitars” or “taro-patch fiddles.” By 1888, the four-string instrument was becoming known as the ukulele, and soon the term “taro-patch fiddle” primarily was used to describe the larger five-string instrument. By the early 1890s, the original machete tuning of d’-g’-b’-d” was falling out of favor. Instead, the reentrant tuning of the Madeiran ...

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...