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Gaaw  

J. Richard Haefer

Generic term for drums, and specifically the frame drum, of the Tlingit and Haida peoples of Alaska. The circular frame, about 30 to 35 cm in diameter, is made from willow wood. The single head, of elk skin, is wetted and then dried around the frame. The head is tied across the back of the frame with sinew strips crossing at the centre to form a grip. It is struck with a willow stick about 30 cm long with a padded hide tip. The head is usually decorated on the outside in black, red, and green colours depicting crests symbolizing the clan of the owner. Some instruments are also decorated on the inner surface. The term gaaw may be modified with an adjective to denote other objects, for example lákt gaaw is a box drum and gaaw hít a drum house.

The lgheli is a similar instrument of the Dena’ina (Tanaina Athabascan) people of Alaska. It is not decorated and the head is of moose skin. The drumstick is padded with a small piece of sheepskin pelt....

Article

Victoria Lindsay Levine

Vessel rattle of the Cherokee people of the southern USA. Cherokee singers make their own handheld rattles. A hollow gourd, coconut shell, or terrapin carapace is partially filled with round pebbles and drilled with small soundholes; a wooden handle about 30 cm long is inserted lengthwise through the container. The rattles may be decorated with feather pendants. Song leaders play them to support the song’s pulse and to signal changes in direction or choreography during communal dances performed at ceremonial grounds. The male song leader holds the rattle in his right hand and shakes it while singing and dancing at the head of the line of dancers. He plays a tremolo to indicate the start and end of individual songs within a longer series; during a song, he plays steady, evenly spaced beats. Similar rattles are used to accompany communal dances among the Chickasaw, Delaware, Muscogee (Creek), Seminole, Shawnee, and Yuchi (Euchee), and in the 18th century were used by the Choctaw. Each tribe has its own word for such rattles; for example, Creek, ...

Article

J. Bryan Burton

[Goyaałé, Goyathlay, Goyahkla ]

(b New Mexico, 1829; d Fort Sill, OK, Feb 17, 1909). Native American instrument maker, singer, medicine man, prophet, and military leader. He is better known in Western history for his military leadership of Western Apache resistance to reservation life during the 1880s. Goyaałé (“One who yawns”) was given the name Geronimo after an attack on a Mexican village on St. Jerome’s day when terrified Mexican soldiers cried out “Jeronimo” appealing for help from St. Jerome. After his surrender he was held as a prisoner of war, first in St. Augustine, Florida, then in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, until his death. His celebrity was such that he often made public appearances, including at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, rode in Theodore Roosevelt’s inaugural parade in 1904, and wrote an autobiography with S.M. Barrett, the Oklahoma superintendent of education.

As a medicine man (Apache: diyan), Goyaałé performed Apache sacred ceremonies and rituals that required the knowledge of a vast repertoire of traditional songs sung during the ceremonies. A number of the songs he created were collected for Natalie Curtis’s ...

Article

Guajira  

William Gradante

A Cuban narrative song form. Derived from rural folk tradition, it was still popular in rural and urban areas at the end of the 20th century as a significant popular music genre, part of the canción cubana complex. Characterized by improvised décimas (octosyllabic verse form), it was originally set strophically to traditional Spanish melodies called tonadas. The décimas, often celebrating the local region or amorous in content, characteristically use double meaning to convey subtle, picaresque humour. In two parts, the first in a minor mode, the second major, the guajira is usually accompanied in strict tonic-dominant harmony on various Cuban guitars, originally including the bandurria (flat-backed lute), and claves (two round sticks one knocked on top of the other to beat out key rhythms). Frequent alternation of 3/4 and 6/8 with vertical hemiola and high-pitched vocal melodies are typical. It can also use the punto guajiro form which uses either a fixed pattern or free. When fixed, the guitar or ...

Article

J. Richard Haefer

[juspeña, guitarra quinta]

Five-stringed guitar of Mexico, probably originating in the Tecalitlán area of Jalisco. It was one of the earliest mariachi instruments. It is also colloquially known as quinta or jarana (not to be confused with the jarana huasteca or jarana jarocha). Typically it has a soundbox 33 cm long, 31 cm wide (maximum), and 11 cm deep; a 32 cm neck (4 cm of the fingerboard overlapping flat on the soundboard) with 12 metal frets; and 56 cm string length. The soundhole is decorated with nácar (mother-of-pearl) and wood inlay in a starburst pattern, and the purfling has intricate limoncillo wood inlay. The five wooden pegs are inserted from the rear of the pegboard, which has distinctively curved sides and two open f-holes between the pegs. The woods used to build golpes are the same as those for guitarrones.

Tunings used nowadays including the following: d–g–b–e–a (used by Gaspar Vargas); ...

Article

J. Richard Haefer

Large guitar of Mexico. It is played as the bass instrument in mariachi and other Mexican ensembles. The guitarrón mexicano (literally ‘large Mexican guitar’) is shaped like a guitar but with deep sides and a V-arched back. Typically it has a soundbox 63 cm long with a 48 cm maximum width and maximum depth of 21 cm at the sides plus an additional 9 cm to the apex of the back. The fretless neck terminates in a pegboard with pegs inserted from the rear. A 10 cm soundhole on the ...

Article

Gŭm  

[geum]

Long zither of Korea, the equivalent of the Chinese guqin. It has seven silk strings, and inlaid marks on the soundtable indicating finger positions to obtain harmonic overtones. Nowadays, as with many other traditional Korean instruments, it is used only in Confucian ritual music. Various modern Korean zithers use many more strings; for example, the North Korean ...

Article

Victoria Lindsay Levine

Double-headed snare drum of the Choctaw people of Mississippi, USA. Presumably modelled after a European instrument given to or captured by the Choctaw during the 1700s, such drums are made from black gum, cyprus, hard pine, poplar, or sweet gum wood and are about 31 cm tall by 25 cm in diameter, although sizes vary. The heads are made of goatskin, sheepskin, or deerskin and are attached to the body by hoops made of hickory wood. The hoops are laced together with strips of deer hide in a V pattern. Two additional strips rest on the unplayed lower head, acting as snares. The male drummer uses a pair of hickory drumsticks about 30 cm long. The drum is played to accompany processions such as dance troupes entering or leaving an arena or ballplayers taking or exiting the field. The Cherokee, Muscogee (Creek), and Yuchi (Euchee) had similar snare drums in the past....

Article

Hirukis  

J. Richard Haefer

[hirukiam]

Rasp or scraper of the Yoeme Yaqui Indians of Arizona and Northern Mexico. A hardwood stick about 4 cm wide by 50 to 60 cm long has a series of small grooves cut into the bottom two-thirds. The unnotched part of the stick serves as a handle when the distal end is placed on top of half a gourd about 20 cm diameter, inverted in a pail of water which acts as a resonator. The rasp is scraped by a second stick in time with the singing of the ...

Article

Mary Riemer-Weller

revised by J. Richard Haefer

[u’us hikiat, hiokat]

Scraper of the Tohono O’odham (Papago) Indians of Southern Arizona and Northern Mexico. Two types are used by the O’odham. The hiwculdakuḍ (‘thing with which one rubs’) is made from a stick of hard wood (u:pad [catclaw, Acacia Greggii] or ho’idkam [ironwood, Olneya tesota]) about 50 to 60 cm long and 3 to 5 cm diameter, with 10 to 12 deep notches cut widely apart along the length. The distal end is placed on an inverted basket on the ground that serves as a resonator, and the notches are rubbed with a short stick of the same material, producing a sound like blowing wind and rain. It is used to accompany curing and other ritual songs.

The u’us hikiat (‘jagged wood’, Densmore’s hiokat) is made from segoi (greasewood, Sarcobatus vermiculatus) or kui (mesquite, Prosopis velutina), softer woods yielding a lighter sound. The thin stick has shallow cuts spaced closely together. Though it can be played without a resonator, most performers nowdays use a basket resonator. It is used to accompany ...