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Ferdinand J. de Hen

Lamellaphone of the Boa people in the northern Democratic Republic of the Congo. The resonator is made of bark bent around three sticks curved in an arch and stuck in the underside of the rectangular wooden soundtable, forming a shape like a boat hull. The number of wooden tongues varies from six or eight (the usual number) to fourteen....


Klisala Harrison


Generic term for drums of the Kwakwaka’wakw and other indigenous peoples of the North American Pacific Northwest Coast, including the log drum, box drum, and frame drum. The drumming board is related.

(1) The Kwakwaka’wakw log drum is made from a hollowed red cedar log, with the sides and edges often carved and painted. The drum is a permanent fixture in a Kwakwaka’wakw ceremonial house (‘big house’). The big house Wawadit’la (at CDN.VI.rbcm) holds an example carved to represent a killer whale, painted black and red. Log drum designs are usually ‘crest animals’ of the extended family to which a big house belongs.

The log drum spans the width of a big house, leaving space on either side for dancers to enter and exit. The instrument is held off the floor by two wood blocks, one at either end, and is struck by several people using batons of split pinewood. The drum stick typically is held with the arm extended and then moved downwards and forwards. Drummers, typically males, sit on either side of the instrument. Often a bench is built on the side of the drum that is closest to the big house wall while chairs are used for the other side. Log drums are sometimes played concurrently with frame drums and box drums....



J. Richard Haefer

Mouth bow of the forest-dwelling Moré Indian culture of eastern Bolivia. It consists of a small strip of palm frond 15 to 20 cm long and 2 to 3 cm wide, with two strings of palm fibre attached. One end of the frond is put into the mouth and supported by the teeth; the other end is supported by one hand. The other hand rubs a small stick (20 cm long) on the strings, which are moistened with saliva. The instrument accompanies lovers’ songs....


(from Omaha ne’xe: ‘water vessel’; and gaku: ‘to beat’)

Water drum of the Omaha people of the central Plains area of the USA. It is made from a hollowed log partially filled with water and with a head of buffalo skin. The drum is tuned by tipping it to wet the skin, then partially drying it near a fire to produce the correct sound. As with the Ojibwa ...


Paula Conlon

[‘Doc’ Tate ]

(b Fletcher, OK, July 3, 1932; d Lawton, OK, March 5, 1996). Native American (Comanche) maker and player of juniper flutes. He attended the Fort Sill Indian School and Haskell Indian Institute. He learned flute making from the Kiowa maker Belo Cozad (1864–1950) and the Lakota maker Richard Fool Bull (1887–1976). He used the traditional method of splitting the wood, carving the channel, boring the holes, and inserting the plug, then gluing the flute back together with sap, binding it with leather thongs, and attaching the external block. His first album, Indian Flute Songs from Comanche Land (NAM 401C, n.d.), was the first commercial recording consisting entirely of music for solo Indian flute. He introduced new playing techniques, including cross-fingerings to extend the range, and extending the warbling sound on the lowest tone to all the available pitches, thus expanding the flute’s repertoire and contributing to its revival in the latter 20th century. Tate (the English name given to him) was recognized as a National Heritage Fellow in ...



Mary Riemer-Weller

(Omaha: ‘whistle’)

Bone whistle of the Omaha Indians of the central Plains of the USA. It is made from the wing bone of an eagle and is about 15 cm long, and it has a V-shaped flue opening in the centre but no fingerholes. It produces only one shrill note which, when played repeatedly, was said to imitate an eagle’s call. The whistle was played during parts of the ...



Andrew C. McGraw

A modern keyed zither of Bali, Indonesia. It resembles the Japanese taisho-goto. Four to six guitar strings are stretched across the resonator, a shallow wooden box approximately 55 cm long and 20 cm wide, often elaborately carved, painted, and gilt in the manner of many Balinese gamelan instruments. The instrument is placed on the ground before a musician sitting cross-legged. The strings are hitched at the right end of the box and cross a metal bridge over which a wooden guard is placed where the player rests his right hand, strumming all of the strings together with a guitar pick. A small soundhole pierces the soundtable to the left of the bridge. The strings then pass under a keyboard of seven to 12 metal levers with small circular touches resembling typewriter keys, which, when depressed by the fingers of the left hand, each bring a metal bar down upon all of the strings, stopping them against a narrow wooden board (equivalent to a fingerboard) glued to the top of the box. The strings then pass over a metal nut (the same shape as the bridge) and are tuned with small guitar tuners at the left end. Tuning is not standard but most players tune the first two strings to the same pitch, two more an octave above. Some players tune one or two of the strings to the fifth....


Chad Stephen Hamill

Whistle of the Salish Indians of the Columbia Plateau. 10 to 15 cm long, it can be made from various hollow dry creek weeds, cow parsnip stalk, willow or elder wood, the ulna bone of a bald eagle, or the leg or wing bone of a crane or similar wading bird. The proximal end is cut at a 45-degree angle to rest against the lower lip of the player. A wedge-shaped hole is cut on the side opposite the angled cut and partially filled with pine pitch to direct the air to the lower edge of the cut. It produces a single sound. Whistles are used by young boys and men for personal enjoyment. The term ...


Richard Moyle

Nose flute of Hawaii. It is a tube of thin-walled native Hawaiian bamboo, traditionally between 25 and 50 cm long, with a nose hole cut at an angle below the upper end, closed by a node. Two or three fingerholes penetrate the tube towards the open end. The traditional way of playing the flute was to hold it with the right thumb and forefinger and use the rest of the fingers of the same hand to cover the holes. The left thumb was used to hold the left nostril closed with the left hand cupped over or under the flute. Like the ...


J. Richard Haefer


Generic term for a bone scraper of the Aztec (Nahua) people and other central Mexican cultures. The name was derived from omitl (‘bone’) and chicahuaztli (‘power’). It was a long serrated stick or bone scraped with a smaller stick. Two types have been identified, one a long femur with deep notches and incised with images relating to Quatzalcoatl and Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli, found in the central Mexican highlands. The second type, notched but not incised, was from the Toluca and Tarascan areas. It is pictured in ...