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Bachi  

Plectrum of the Japanese shamisen and biwa (plucked lutes). Good shamisen plectra are of ivory or ivory-tipped wood, although tortoise-shell is used when playing certain chamber and folk music. Practice plectra are made of plastic or of three weights of wood to provide balance and to supply a thin point. ...

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Martin Elste

A keyboard instrument of the harpsichord type designed and built by the Munich instrument-making firm of Maendler-Schramm in the 1920s. Its mechanism was designed to allow dynamic gradation: a pad was fitted diagonally between the back key lever and the adjustable screw of a specially sprung jack, so that the length of the plectrum could be regulated by touch (patented ...

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R. Conway Morris

Turkish long-necked lute of the Ṭanbūr family (for illustration see Kurdish music). The pear-shaped bowl resonator is carved (oyma) or carvel-built (yapraklı). The soundtable is of wood, usually coniferous. The neck has a variable number of movable frets. Traditionally these were made of sheepgut or copper wire but nylon line is now used. The instrument’s name, dating from the 17th century, derives from these ‘tied’ frets (bağ: ‘fret’, ‘knot’; bağlamak: ‘to tie, knot’). The movability of the frets allows the setting of scales to include microtones. There are three double courses of metal strings tuned with wooden pegs. The bağlama is generally played with a cherry-bark plectrum, though formerly the fingertips were widely used. The melody is commonly played on the first double course of strings, while the remaining courses are struck open as drones. Sometimes, however, the second and third courses are also fingered. The second finger of the plectrum hand is often used to strike the soundtable to add a percussive element to the melody....

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Bailol  

Jeremy Montagu

Mouth bow of the Fula and Tukulor peoples of Senegal and the Gambia. The left hand presses the string with a small stick to alter the pitch of the fundamental, while the right hand taps the string with a second stick. Overtones are selected by altering the shape of the mouth....

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Ramón Hernández

Twelve-string instrument sharing some similarities with an acoustic guitar. Although its exact origins are unclear, the bajo sexto appeared in Mexico during the late 1800s and has gained popularity since that time. The instrument is tuned lower than a typical acoustic guitar, hence the bajo part of the name; the sexto, or six, refers to the original number of strings. Changes to the instrument were made to increase its volume, including an expansion of the body (to around 30% larger than an acoustic guitar), a larger bridge, a widened neck, an increase to seven frets, and the doubling of strings to 12, or six double courses. The highest three strings are typically tuned in unison; the lower three strings in octaves, which offers great resonance and depth. The husky, hoarse sound of the refashioned bajo sexto is capable of both bass rhythm and harmony, allowing greater flexibility for other instruments, such as the accordion, in various ensembles. Once it gained popularity, the ...

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Andrew C. McGraw

A bamboo ensemble of the eastern Sumenep region of Madura, Indonesia. Bak beng specifically refers to an idiochord tube zither made from a length of bamboo two and a half internodes long (about 145 cm), from which four ‘strings’, two per internode, are raised from the epidermis by small wooden bridges. The pitches of the front two strings are lowered by small wooden tongues placed in the middle of the strings above a small resonance hole. The instrument is placed horizontally in front of the player on a short wooden stand, the right end closed by a natural node and the left end covered with a leather skin, which the performer beats with his left hand (bak) while striking the four strings with a wooden stick in his right hand (beng), alternating between the internodes. Meanwhile two bamboo tubes, the dak, about 55 cm long, and the ...

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Baka  

Mouth bow of the Gbande people of Liberia. The player taps the string with a stick in his right hand while regulating the vibrating length with a stick in his left. The string passes between his lips; by altering the shape of the oral cavity he can produce different overtones. ...

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Ardian Ahmedaja

Three-stringed lute of southeastern Albania (Korçë area). Its half-pear-shaped body is assembled from thin ribs of wood. The slightly curved soundboard of fir is edged with mulberry or cherry wood and often has a thin piece of walnut as a plectrum guard. The 11 to 14 tied frets, formerly of gut, are nowadays made of synethetic material. The plectrum is made from cherry bark or turkey quill. The strings are of wire, the first two tuned a 4th, 5th, or major 2nd apart. The third string is tuned either in unison with or an octave lower than the second. The melody is played as a rule on the first string, rarely on the second. The third string is played as a drone. The bakllama was used until the mid-20th century mostly as a solo instrument and as part of small ensembles. Nowadays it is rare, since its role has been superseded as a rule by the Llautë....

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Baku  

Ferdinand J. de Hen

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Martin Kiszko

A long-necked chordophone with a triangular body and three strings. The soundboard is usually constructed from four strips of Russian spruce or silver fir and the slightly arched belly of seven pieces of maple. The instrument has a small soundhole, a fretted neck and strings of gut or steel. The balalaika is related to the dömbra, a variant of the long-necked lute played by peoples of Central Asia. The earliest mention in literature appeared in 1688 and Peter the Great used balalaikas in his grand orchestral procession of 1715. The instrument may have been a new arrival or a natural development of the 17th-century domra. The skomorokhis (minstrels) gave it a primary role in accompanying dance.

A public performance in 1886 began the balalaika's elevation from a peasant’s instrument to one of artistic stature. The success of the balalaika is attributed to Vasily Vasil'yevich Andreyev (1861–1918) who, assisted by the instrument makers V. Ivanov, F. Paserbsky and S. Nalimov, produced a metal-fretted chromatic version in a family of sizes: prime (...

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Bambaro  

Jeremy Montagu

[bamboro]

Metal jew’s harp of European pattern played by young men of the Songhay in Niger and the Zamfara Hausa in Nigeria. It has become a part of the local instrumentarium, replacing the indigenous bamboo zagada. Children still make substitutes from halved guinea-corn stalks, loosening a strip of cortex as the tongue and digging out a segment of the pith as a small resonating chamber....

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Jonathan McCollum

[bambirn, pandïr, pandïrn]

Plucked chordophone of medieval Armenia. It was used by gusanner (entertainers) in theatrical performances, weddings, funerals, and other rites and feasts. The Armenian historian Movses Khorenatsi refers to the bambir in his History of Armenia (474 ce). Some modern scholars believe the bambir might have been a concussion idiophone, similar to castanets....

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Robert At’ayan

Type of Armenian cello, invented in the early 1950s and named after the ancient Armenian instrument. The body is hollowed from a single piece of wood and covered by a wooden soundtable. The large bambir has two crescent soundholes (7 cm long and 2.5 cm wide) in the soundtable and a thin animal membrane, with several soundholes (about 5 mm in diameter), stretched underneath. This membrane under the soundtable gives the instrument its distinctive timbre—a clean tone, reminiscent of a muted cello, but related to the sound of the k’amancha and other folk instruments. The body is 54 cm long, and the width varies from 29 cm at the base to 13 cm in the middle and 24 cm at the top. The bambir is strung and tuned like the cello, and the sounding length of the strings is 63 cm (from head to bridge).

The small bambir has no membrane and only one soundhole in the belly. Its measurements are: body length 40 cm, width 24 cm at the base, 12.5 cm in the middle, and 19 cm at the top; sounding string length 39 cm. It is tuned like the violin but an octave lower. When ...

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Bana  

Geneviève Dournon

[vana]

Three-string fiddle of Madhya Pradesh (Mandla district), India. About 70 cm long, it is made up of a squarish soundbox of mango wood with incurved sides, covered with a soundtable of calf’s stomach membrane, and a bamboo neck. The three horsehair strings are tuned by lateral wooden pegs and played with a bow to which are attached little pellet-bells. In the central Mandla province, bana is the instrument used by the Pardhan to accompany their repertory of epic religious ballads. The Pardhan are the genealogist bards of the Gond, who were once sovereigns of the powerful kingdom of Gondwana and now make up the largest tribal population of India. Other fiddles of the same type but with a less sophisticated construction, called kikir or kingiri, are occasionally found among the Muria Gond, who live in the hilly hinterland of Bastar. Gogia bana is a misnomer for the Pardhan bow harp....

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Banam  

Carol M. Babiracki

[bānām, bānom]

Term for single-string fiddles, without frets and with a skin-covered soundbox, played by tribal groups in central India. At least two general varieties have been described in written sources on Indian folk instruments: an inverted fiddle (held upwards) with either a tortoise-shell or a wooden body, and a waisted upright fiddle (held downwards) resembling the sārindā. The inverted fiddle type is particularly associated with the Muṇḍā, Santāl, and related tribal groups of southern Bihar. However, it is possible that for some of these groups banam is a generic term for any bowed chordophone.

Among the Muṇḍā, the banam is considered an instrument of the giti ʔoro ʔ (youth dormitory), and in traditional song texts it is often paired with the rutu (side-blown bamboo flute). It is normally played by men to accompany their own singing as they sit or walk. The Muṇḍāri banam repertory includes communal dancing-songs, but the instrument is seldom accompanied by either drumming or dancing. It has retained a position of respect and symbolic importance in Muṇḍāri villages, even though ...

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Natalie M. Webber

Name once used in Sri Lanka for the mandolin. It probably was imported by the Portuguese, absorbed by the artisans of Ceylonese-Portuguese extraction, and used to play their characteristic dance music. The name is now obsolete, but a flat-backed mandolin with four double strings, known in Sri Lanka as the ‘English mandolin’, is still used as the melody instrument for ...

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Bandola  

A flat-backed lute of South and Central America, descended from the Bandurria (see also Mandore). The modern bandola of Colombia has a tear-drop shape, with a flat or concave back. It has six courses of strings, three steel strings in each of the four upper courses, and two copper-wound strings in each of the two lower courses, tuned f ♯–b–e′–a′–d″–g″. It is played with a plectrum and, as in mandolin playing, a note may be sustained by a tremolo. In the Colombian Andes it plays in the murga ensemble to accompany dancing and the singing of coplas; the murga is sometimes augmented by a second bandola, the two playing in characteristic parallel 3rds and 6ths. The bandola is used in Chilean Andean music, where it accompanies solo shepherd songs, and in the Guatemalan zarabanda ensemble (see Guatemala, §II, 2). There are two types of Venezuelan bandola...