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John Whenham

(b 1623–8; d Bologna, 1699, before 28 Jan). Italian singer, composer and instrument maker. He was an Augustinian monk who was employed from about 1649 as a soprano castrato at the Este court at Modena. On 13 November 1660 he was appointed to the choir of S Petronio, Bologna, with a stipend of 50 lire a month; he was discharged on 24 April 1662 but rejoined on 25 July 1663. In October 1665 he returned to Modena, where he succeeded Marco Uccellini as choirmaster of the cathedral. He vacated this post in November 1673 and by early 1674 was again living at Bologna. Between 1677 and 1681 he served as a singer in the cappella of Duke Francesco II of Modena. In 1685 he was made a member of the Accademia Filarmonica, Bologna, and seems to have spent his last years in or near that city. He wrote to the Duke of Modena in ...



Umberto Pineschi

Italian family of organ builders . Pietro Agati (b Pistoia, 15 Feb 1735; d Pistoia, 10 Dec 1806) served apprenticeships in the Tronci workshop in Pistoia, and later with Filippo Gatti in Bologna. He opened his own workshop in Pistoia, where he built his ‘secundum opus’ for the church of S Vitale (1760) with a case that bears a striking resemblance to that belonging to the organ by Willem Hermans in Spirito Santo, Pistoia (1664). From this Hermans instrument Agati copied the stopped flute 8′, Cornetto, Trombe, Voce umana (or Violoncello – a bass 4′ regal) and Mosetto (treble 8′ regal 8′) to his organ at Vignole di Quarrata (1797). Another outstanding instrument is at Tréppio, Pistoia (1794).

Pietro’s son Giosuè (b Pistoia, 21 Jan 1770; d Pistoia, 10 Dec 1806) built many fine instruments, including those at Serravalle Pistoiese (...



Jeremy Montagu



[ággüe, aggüé, chekeré]

Afro-Cuban rattle. It is a large gourd with a net of beads or seeds on cords around the outside acting as external strikers. It can be shaken or struck with the palm of the hand and might be played in groups of three different sizes, the largest about 50 cm long. Nowadays a tin sphere sometimes substitutes for the gourd; it is distinct from the ...


J. Gansemans, K.A. Gourlay and Ferdinand J. de Hen

[abongboya, magbomboyo]

Lamellaphone of the Rubi-Haut-Uele area of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It has a box-shaped bark resonator and six to eight wooden tongues fastened to the soundboard by raffia fibre. According to de Hen a lamellaphone of this type, with wooden or metal tongues, is known by the Badjande people as ...



John M. Schechter

Double-headed drum of Cuba. It is 30 to 50 cm long and 15 to 25 cm in diameter at its ends, slightly wider in the middle. Initially constructed from a single piece of wood, it was sometimes made of staves, with its heads nailed on. For private religious rituals of the Yoruba-associated Egguado people, its function was to call and greet the female deity Obbá. The calls on the ...



Robert Barclay

Term for changes in materials and characteristics over time, often causing deterioration of appearance as well as of acoustical and mechanical behaviours of musical instruments. Almost all materials degrade over time, and most deterioration can only be slowed, not arrested completely, much less reversed. Arguably, some instruments improve tonally with age, at least initially during a ‘breaking-in’ period, for reasons that are not always clear or convincing. However, this article focuses on six basic agents of deterioration, which normally work in combination.

During repair and restoration these effects of ageing are addressed by treatments such as consolidation, cleaning, adjustment, or replacement.

Mass-produced and synthetic materials dating from 19th-century industrialization are highly prone to deterioration because their long-term properties were insufficiently understood at the time of their development. For example, ebonite, a substitute for ebony in woodwind instruments, is a highly vulcanized natural rubber that emits sulphuric acid upon degradation. Other materials prone to rapid deterioration include celluloid and artificial leathers. Plastics, such as used in modern harpsichord jacks, can warp and their polymers break down, causing brittleness....


David P. McAllester

revised by J. Richard Haefer

Term used by the Navajo of the southwestern USA for various rattles. It can also denote the decorated stick carried in the Enemyway ceremony, representing the power of Changing Woman and Enemy Slayer. ‘Aghááł nímaazígíí is the name for a wild gourd rattle, ndilkal ‘aghááł that for the Peyote rattle, which is made from a small wild gourd. The ‘adee ‘aghááł vessel rattle is made from a bottle gourd about 16 cm tall, with a wooden handle (usually of cottonwood root) attached through the open end. The gourd is normally painted in ritual designs and may have a small eagle plume attached to the end of the handle that protrudes through the blossom end of the gourd. The feather represents rain clouds and the power of the eagle; the gourd itself connotes plant growth and fertility. The rattle is carried in the yeibichai (‘grandfathers of the gods’) dance of the Nightway ceremony. Masked and painted dancers, the ...


Alastair Dick


A Sanskrit term found in the older, Vedic literature of India (c1500–500 bce). It has often been translated ‘cymbals’, probably by association with the distinct word āghāta (‘percussion’; from han: ‘strike’); the root of āghā ṭá might connect better with gha ṭṭ, suggesting rubbing, friction. The Ṛgveda...



J. Richard Haefer

Single-headed cylindrical drum of Suriname. It is played with the tumao and apinti drums and is the lowest sounding of the three. It is made from a hollow log commonly 2 to 3 metres long and about 15 to 20 cm in diameter, though drums vary in size. The head is fastened by cords with tuning wedges. The drum is laid on the ground, the performer kneeling beside it and playing with one stick and one hand. A steady beat is played against which the other two drums improvise. Two tones are achieved by striking either the centre or edge of the head. The ...


K.A. Gourlay

revised by Amanda Villepastour

Lamellaphone of the Ọ̀yọ́ Yorùbá in Nigeria. It has diffused to the Nago peoples of Benin and Lucumí people in Cuba, where it is known as the marímbula. Five adjustable metal tongues are mounted on a large wooden box resonator, which can be 45 cm by 60 cm and 22 cm deep or larger. The instrument is played on the lap, suspended from the neck at waist level so that the tongues can be plucked with the fingers of either hand, or resting on the floor with the player seated. The agídígbo is usually used as part of secular instrumental ensembles such as sákárà, mambo, jùjú, and àpàlà. The Yorùbá instrument has given its name to the Gwari and Fon gidigbo and to the Gwari agijigbo, both five-tongued with box (or old kerosene tin) resonators, and to the agidigo used by some Hausa musicians, notably Audu Karen Gusau, who used instruments of this type either solo or with the hourglass drums (...



James Holland

[Agogo bells]

(from Afro-Brazilian agogô). Percussion instrument. It consists of two conical bells mounted on a sprung steel hoop (it is classified as a percussion idiophone) and is used in samba bands. The player holds the instrument in one hand and strikes the bells with a wooden or metal stick held in the other. A variety of sounds and rhythmic patterns is produced by striking the bells in different spots and squeezing them together. There are also variations on the original, in the form of triple and quattro agogos and a blade agogo, which has a small metal blade between the two bells. There are also wooden agogos: in this case the ‘bells’ are side by side and not on a sprung steel hoop....



Ferdinand J. de Hen


End-blown gourd trumpet of the Logo people of the northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. About 90 cm long, it consists of three hollow calabashes joined in a line and adhered together with clay. The Logo call the instrument also by other vernacular names such as akoti, aori, and kanga...





Martha Novak Clinkscale

A device invented and patented by Sébastien Erard as part of his first repetition action of 1808, which replaced the nut (wrest-plank bridge) and nut-pin (bridge-pin) arrangement of earlier pianos. Érard’s early agraffe resembled a small brass staple with a concave top. One agraffe for each note was attached at a vertical angle to the front edge of the wrest plank, and the strings were passed underneath. Agraffes define one end of the strings’ speaking length and keep them in place by assuring downward bearing on the strings as the hammers strike. An Érard grand piano of 1812 with agraffes of the original type is now in the Musée de la musique, Paris. Later agraffes have separate holes through which each individual string is passed; each agraffe contains as many holes as there are strings for each unison. Pierre Érard’s improvement, the barre harmonique, which he patented in 1838, still serves as the model for agraffes on the modern grand piano. The agraffe should not be confused with the ...



Gini Gorlinski

Bronze bossed gong of Minangkabau communities in western Sumatra, Indonesia. It varies in size and pitch but typically measures about 50 cm in diameter and provides a low-pitched rhythmic foundation for various ensembles, particularly the talempong duduak (‘sitting talempong’) gong chime ensemble. Depending on local tradition, the aguang may be suspended from a rack and struck with a wooden or metal beater, or placed on the ground or on the thigh of its seated player and struck with a stick. Its sound commonly marks the initiation of various rituals (often signalling that a water buffalo has been slaughtered) and other formal events. The ...





José Maceda

[ageng, agong, egong, egung, gong]

Suspended bossed gong of Mindanao, Sulu, Palawan, Mindoro, Sarawak, Sabah, Brunei, peninsular Malaysia, Kalimantan and other parts of Indonesia. There are various sizes. Larger gongs measure approximately 60 cm in diameter, with a boss about 8 cm high and a rim about 24 cm wide. The degree to which the rim is turned in also varies, as do the instrument’s profile, weight and thickness. The smallest agung are those of the Tiruray people of Mindanao; they have a diameter of about 27 cm and rims about 4 cm wide.

Among several cultural groups in insular South-east Asia instruments of the agung type are important in rituals of possession. The Magindanaon people of Mindanao and the Modang of east Kalimantan use it in curing ceremonies, and in Palawan island it is played in wine-drinking rituals. The Iban of Sarawak use the agung at feasts (gawai) related to rice cultivation, at weddings, at the making of a new house and in curing the sick. In east Kalimantan the gong is a semi-sacred object and a symbol of honour and prestige....



Peter Cooke

Sets of side-blown trumpets formerly of the Alur people of northwestern Uganda. Ranging in length from 50 to 200 cm, they are made by splitting a wooden branch lengthwise and carving each half into a gently conical wooden trough. The halves are then glued together and sewn into a cowskin cover. Used in hocketing sets of up to eight different-size trumpets for dancing and other festivities, they were formerly played only by men but in 2006 members of an Alur women’s club adopted them. In Kampala, male university students blow them while processing around their campuses during electioneering rallies and other festivities. Similar trumpets used by other peoples of northern Uganda include the Acholi tuum, the Madi turi or ture turungule, the generally shorter gwara me akuta of Lango, and the arupepe of the Teso and Karimojong peoples in the northeast.

The Para-nilotic word-stem gwara applied to side-blown trumpets occurs also in the terminology of Bantu peoples, hinting at the historic influence of Nilotic migrants on their culture, hence the ...