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Gert-Matthias Wegner and Simonne Bailey


Kettledrum of the Newar musician caste in Kathmandu Valley, Nepal. It accompanies the mvālī shawm and jhyāli cymbals on ritual occasions such as visits to temples. The clay body is 13 cm deep with a goatskin head 21 cm in diameter secured by ‘V’ lacing. The drum is tied to the waist of the player by thongs and the two drumsticks hang from the thongs in a cloth bag when not in use. The body of the drum may be decoratively painted....


Mireille Helffer

revised by Gert-Matthias Wegner and Simonne Bailey

Kettledrum of Nepal. The bowl, of various shapes, is made of brass, copper, iron, pottery, or wood, typically with a diameter of 14 to 23 cm and depth of 17 to 23 cm. The skin head is lapped to a hoop that is held to the body with V lacing. It is suspended at waist level from a neck strap and played with two sticks. The drum is not tuned to a definite pitch. It is used by the ...


Henry Johnson

Frame drum of Japan. The name refers to the shape of the instrument: uchiwa (fan); daiko/taiko (drum). It has a circular wooden or metal frame about 21 to 60 cm in diameter with a handle about the same length as the diameter, and resembles a traditional Japanese flat fan. The single head, of cow or horse hide, can be struck on either side, using a wooden beater. Other names for different forms of frame drums with long handle, and sometimes two heads, include edaiko, etsukedaiko and etsukidaiko. In some modern settings, the uchiwadaiko is played in sets of different sizes and pitches, and often with other types of Japanese and Western percussion instruments. The handle is held in one hand and the beater in the other. The player might sit or stand while playing, or even walk while chanting. In the Nichiren Buddhist sect, the drummers normally chant the ...



J. Richard Haefer

(Sp.: ‘bladder’)

Inflated animal bladder used as a percussion instrument in Panama and Puerto Rico. The bladder, usually that of a pig or cow, about 20 to 30 cm in diameter, is struck with a stick to provide rhythmic accompaniment to the music and movements of the ‘little devil’ street dancers. It may be worn as part of a dancer’s costume. In the gran diablos (’big devils’) ceremony the sound of the instrument symbolically mimics the fight between good and evil.

In Loiza, Puerto Rico, at the Fiestas de Santiago Apostol (‘St James festival’), a popular street character is called the Vejigante, named for the vejiga made from an inflated cow’s bladder that he carries. He represents the Moors in the battle between good and evil. While the primary purpose of the bladder is as a rhythmic instrument, the character will sometimes chase children and hit them with it to knock off evil spirits....



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 (...



J. Richard Haefer


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 ...



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 ...


Henry Johnson


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...



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 (...