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J. Richard Haefer

Single-headed conical drum of Surinam. Played with the hands or sticks, it is used in the winti cults of the Saramaka Maroon people, especially for the ampuku and kromanti, spirits of the forest and the sky pantheons, respectively. The drum is made from a hollowed log about 50 to 60 cm long and 35 to 45 cm in diameter at the base and 18 cm at the top. The skin head is held by eight pegs driven into the body about a quarter of the distance below the top. Driving the pegs further into the drum tightens the head. The drums are usually played in groups of three, the drummers seated and holding the instrument between their knees to accompany dancers who sing and play a ...

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Asis  

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Atabal  

Mauricio Molina

[tabal, arratza, tambor]

Spanish term for a cylindrical double-headed drum. The drum was brought to Iberia by the Muslims, and its name comes from Arabic at-tabal. It is wider than it is tall and is played with two sticks. The atabal has been introduced into the Txistu ensemble in the Basque region. Sizes vary from that of a side drum with snares (for use with the ...

Article

Gerard Béhague

revised by Alice L. Satomi

Generic term for various single-headed drums of Brazil, similar to the Afro-Cuban conga (batá) drum. The body is made of jacaranda wood, in a conical shape or rarely in cylindrical or hourglass shape. The drums vary from 1 to 2.5 metres tall. The head is of goat- or sometimes calf-skin and usually secured by wooden pegs. The drum is played with aquidavis (sticks), with one hand and a stick, or with the hands alone, depending on the particular religious group or song repertory.

Drum music is used in many ritual ceremonies to summon the gods and induce spirit possession. In Afro-Brazilian religious rites atabaques are usually played in groups of threes, each of a different size. In the candomblé rites of Bahia and Northeast Brazil, they are known as rum (largest), rumpí, and (smallest). The drums are made by the chief performer after sacrificing to the uncut tree, and have to be baptized in honour of a specific divinity before they can be played in the rituals. The ...

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Atabule  

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Atenesu  

K.A. Gourlay

[atenus]

Drum of the Teso people of Uganda and Kenya. In Uganda it was traditionally played only by women (with the flat of the hand), while men played the ideteta, a smaller stick-beaten drum made in various sizes; four ideteta were used with the atenesu to accompany the ajosi dance. In Kenya the ...

Article

Jeremy Montagu

[atsimevu]

Single-headed open barrel drum of the Anlo-Ewe people of the southeastern coast of Ghana. Barrel drums from this region are distinct because they are made of wooden staves joined by iron hoops and are always painted red, blue, or green. The atsimewu, 130 cm or more tall and about 40 cm in maximum diameter, is the master drum of an ensemble that includes the ...

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Atumpan  

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Atumpan  

K.A. Gourlay

[atukpani, atungblan]

Talking drum of West Africa. The atumpan, the principal talking drum of the Akan people of Ghana, is a large barrel drum with a tubular foot open at the base, thus resembling a giant goblet drum. The drums are played upright, usually in pairs (of different tones), by the master-drummer, who uses two angular hooked sticks. They also appear in ensembles as supporting drums. The atukpani is the corresponding drum of the Ewe of Ghana and the atungblan of the Baule people of the Ivory Coast. Atungblan are played in pairs by the chief’s master-drummer, and carry great prestige. On certain days fixed by the chief, the drummer calls to the ancestors by means of rhythmic formulae, and asks them to protect the community. Like other less important talking drums, atungblan are used to summon people to meetings. At public appearances of the chief, they are also used to drum proverbs. They may also be used, with other drums, gourd rattle, and clapperless bells, to accompany the ...

Article

Āvaj  

Alastair Dick

[āvaja]

Indian drum name of medieval and later times, found nowadays only in certain compound and derivative forms. It probably derives from the Sanskrit ātodya, through the intermediate Prakrit (Middle Indo-Aryan) form āojja (‘musical instrument’, but with a root meaning ‘percussion’), rather than from vādya, as has been thought. The 13th-century Sa ṅgītaratnākara gives the huḍukkā (barrel drum) the alternative names āvaja or skandhāvaja (‘shoulder āvaja’), the latter referring to the use of the shoulder-strap in obtaining variable tension. In the same source the smaller local (deśi) version of the elongated barrel drum pa ṭ aha is named a ḍḍāvaja (‘half āvaja’). The late 16th-century Ā’īn-i–akbarī describes the āvaj as ‘similar to two falconers’ drums joined together’, probably, like the modern hu ṙuk (hourglass drum), also played with variable tension. As well as mentioning the ardhāvaj, the same source gives an early reference to the pakhāvaj (‘side ...

Article

Jeremy Montagu

Sanskrit term for ‘tied on’ and thus for drums in general. It is one of the four categ ories of Indian instruments as classified in Assam, the others being ghana (idiophones), su ṣira (aerophones), and tata (chordophones).

D.R. Barthakur: The Music and Musical Instruments of North Eastern India (New Delhi, 2003)....

Article

Ax  

Laurence Libin

[axe]

In the argot of American popular music, a term for any instrument. The word particularly denotes wind and string types common in bands, such as saxophones and electric guitars; it is less often applied to keyboards and drum sets. Of uncertain origin but widespread by the 1950s, this usage apparently emerged in the early 20th century, perhaps in connection with the colloquial terms ‘woodshedding’ (laborious practicing or performing) and ‘chops’ (a wind player’s jaws, mouth, or embouchure, and by extension, any instrumentalist’s technical ability), as in ‘He’s woodshedding with his ax to improve his chops’. ‘Cutting contests’ (performance competitions) between early New Orleans jazz players naturally involved their axes. Such rustic terminology implies effortful, demonstrative physical work, like chopping wood with an ax....

Article

Laurence Libin

Name given to an exceptionally large bass drum tuned to D, made specifically for the processional march in Benjamin Britten’s second church parable, The Burning Fiery Furnace (1966). This unique drum, probably designed for Britten by the percussionist James Blades and constructed under Blades’s supervision, seems now to be lost....

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Bachas  

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Baghrā  

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Bājā  

Nepalese generic term designating a musical instrument or an instrumental ensemble, as in the pañca bājā (ensemble of five instruments), navā bājā (ensemble of nine instruments), Damāi bājā (band of musicians from the Damāi caste of tailor-musicians), jhā ṅkri bājā (instrument of the jhā ṅkri, e.g. the dhyā ṅgro, or frame drum), ...

Article

Alan R. Thrasher

(‘octagonal drum’)

Single-headed frame drum of the Bai minority (Yunnan province) and the Han Chinese in areas of north China. Eight rectangular pieces of hardwood, each c5 cm long, are glued together to form the octagonal frame (width about 20 cm or less, about 6 cm deep). A head of python skin is glued around the top rim. The frame is often inlaid with bone decoration and has small jingles (ling), similar to those of tambourines, mounted in gaps through seven of the frame walls. The instrument is held by the eighth section, to which a decorative tassel may be attached. The drum is shaken or the head is rubbed or struck with the fingers. Introduced into China during the Ming dynasty (1368–1644 ce), probably from Central Asia, the drum came into usage among the Bai people in accompaniment of dance-songs, and among the northern Han Chinese in accompaniment of narrative and other songs....

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Bakubai  

J. Richard Haefer

Water drum of the Yoeme Yaqui Indians of Arizona and Northern Mexico and of their Mayo neighbours. It is used to accompany the singing of traditional songs for the deer dance. A gourd shell 30 to 35 cm in diameter is cut in half and laid open-side down in a pan of water which acts as a resonator. The gourd is struck with a stick about 35 cm long and the sound represents the heart beat of the deer. The drum is played simultaneously with two ...