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K.A. Gourlay

revised by Ferdinand J. de Hen


Ground zither of the Daka, Mamvu, Mangutu, Balese, Logo, Mayanga, and Nkundo peoples of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. A pit is dug about 25 to 30 cm deep and 20 cm in diameter, and covered with a piece of bark, which is pegged to the ground. From the centre of the bark rises a vertical stick supporting a single string that is also pegged to the ground at both ends. The two segments of the string are of different lengths and produce two different notes. The instrument is played by two boys, each with two sticks. One strikes the left segment of the string, the other the right. Other names reported for this instrument are kuzegne (Balese), kakalari (Logo), nedongu (Mangbetu), tindi de kileru, kudrugu (Kilima and Andernanza), kikilo, and dzi-dzingba.

LaurentyC, 110 B. Costermans: ‘Muziekinstrumenten van Watsa-Gombari en omstreken’, Zaïre, 1 (1947), 629–63 J.-S. Laurenty: L’Organologie du Zaïre...



John M. Schechter


Term (from Arab. ‘Ūd) for the lute, which was introduced to Spain by Arabs during the 13th century. Together with bandurria and guitars, it appears in folk ensembles known as rondallas and is used to accompany song and dance forms such as the jota (see Spain §II 4....


J. Richard Haefer


Violin of the Yoeme Yaqui Indians of Arizona and Northern Mexico. It is a variant of the European violin, made from local woods. The Yaqui and Mayo Indians originally learned violin making from missionaries in the 18th century. The instrument is used to accompany the pahko’ola (pascola) dancers. There is no standard size, but most are close in size to the modern violin. They lack a separate bass bar and are not varnished. The four strings can be either normal violin strings or made from monofilament nylon; the bridge is usually purchased. Tunings vary in patterns of 4th and 5ths between adjacent strings according to the series of songs played throughout the night, and are referred to by the names of animals. The bow is hand made and a peg is inserted in the frog end to tighten the horsehair, which might or might not be woven into strands. Two violinists play in 3rds or 6ths accompanied by the ...



Richard Keeling

Bone whistle of the Maidu and other native peoples of northern California. It is made from the leg bone of a large bird, a deer or other animal, or local cane. The whistles, from 12 to 20 cm long and 1.5 to 2 cm in diameter (the larger of cane), are usually played in pairs, hence the Kato name tulnok kleyulit (‘whistles tied together’); other names for them include xosa:ng’ay (Hupa); speryspery (Yurok); məpu (Southeastern Pomo); tōka (Patwin); and delni (Wailaki). The bones are bound together with sinew or cord near each end and plugged at one end with pitch. Each tube has a V-shaped hole at or near the centre, with a block of pitch to direct the airstream over the opening. The two whistles produce different notes but are not played melodically; rather, they mark the rhythm of dancing. In ceremonial and secular dances, several men blow them at the same time, producing a rich texture that also includes contrapuntal singing. Historically they were used in shamanistic rituals. ...


John M. Schechter and J. Richard Haefer

Notched flute, a large kena, of the Bolivian Alti Plano, also found in Tarapacá Province, Chile. Called pheta by the Chipaya people, it is made from tokoró, a local cane, with six fingerholes and a thumbhole. The instruments are played in groups to accompany dancing, particularly at the feast of Santiago (July 25) among the Chipaya of the Department of Oruro. The ...


Mary Riemer-Weller

(Creek: ‘turtle rattle’)

Vessel rattle of the Creek Indians of the southeastern USA; it is also used by the Yuchi, Cherokee, and Seminole tribes. The name was documented in the early 20th century. The rattle is made from six to ten dried terrapin shells. Holes are bored in the shells, which are filled with pebbles and attached to a piece of rawhide. Dancers wear one set on the outside of each leg, tied just below the knee. The rattle is worn only by women, in the corn and stomp dances of the Cherokee and Seminole, and in the ribbon dance which is part of the Green Corn ceremonial of the Muskogee Creek....



Mary Riemer-Weller

revised by Richard Keeling

[mawu, mawuwi]

Musical bow of the native peoples of northern California and the San Joaquin Valley. The Yokut name is ma’wo; the Maidu term mawu or mawuwi; other Maiduan groups call it pan’da, and the Kato name is cele (‘singing’). It is the only string instrument used by native peoples of California, but musical bows are also found among the Tlingit of Alaska and the Carrier of northwest Canada. Among some Maiduan groups the bow was made especially for musical purposes and used by shamans for communicating with spirits. Some authorities say the shaman’s bow was rubbed with human blood. Most cultures including the Yokuts use a normal hunting bow, but more elaborate versions with a central bridge are also found. The Yurok played a regular hunting bow for amusement. The quiet bow sound was sometimes augmented by humming.

The method of playing was similar for all types. The bow was held in the left hand with most of the instrument projecting towards the player’s right side. The wooden part of the lower end, or sometimes the string, was held between the teeth or in front of the open mouth; the string was either plucked with the fingers of the right hand, or was struck lightly with the fingernails, a twig, or a bone. The mouth cavity was used as a resonating chamber and different notes could be produced by varying its size and shape....


Mary Riemer-Weller

(Cheyenne: ‘bass drum’)

Large double-headed drum of the Cheyenne Indians of the northern Plains of the USA. The ‘big drum’, a common name used to distinguish the bass drum from the smaller handheld frame drum, is found throughout North America. It is generally broad and shallow, about 60 to 80 cm in diameter and 20 to 40 cm deep and traditionally made from a hollowed log. The heads, of untanned hide, are laced together in criss-cross fashion around the body. Although a commercial bass drum is often used nowadays, its calfskin or plastic heads may be replaced with deer hide (as among the Flathead people of Montana) or buffalo skin (as among the Dakota for use in their sun dance). The padded beaters, 35 to 45 cm long, can be of wood or fibreglass, the latter favoured for its flexibility. Drums made by the Ojibwa of the western Great Lakes have painted heads and are elaborately decorated with cloth and beadwork; they are suspended from four stakes driven into the ground....


Klisala Harrison

[kingáan, hat’awt’isk]

Terms for whistles and reed instruments of First Nations peoples of the North American Pacific Northwest, including the Kwakwa̲ka̲’wakw (ma̲dzis), Haida (kingáan), Nuuchahnulth, Tlingit, Tsimshian (hat’awt’isk), and Coast Salish. The instruments appear with and without fingerholes and can be blown by mouth or mechanically. The mouth-blown whistles appear in three forms: stopped pipes, half-stopped pipes, and open pipes. Some older literature and museum catalogues use the term sk’a’na to denote Haida (Xa’ida, Skittagetan) single- and multiple-pipe whistles. The mouth-blown reed instruments include single reeds, double reeds, retreating reeds, and ribbon reeds.

(1) Mouth-blown whistles with stopped pipes have from one to six sounding chambers and fundamental pitches. The whistles are carved from straight-grained wood, preferably red cedar or spruce. Generally the whistle is oval or cylindrical; sometimes it is pear-shaped, square (having a flat face and a rounded back), or a flattened, truncated cone. A block of wood is split lengthwise along the grain. One of the resulting halves is hollowed so that its walls are very thin. In it is carved the whistle’s sounding chamber or chambers, but a small block is left uncarved at its lower end (thus stopping the pipe), as is a larger block at the upper end (for the embouchure). The other half, which will form the top side of the whistle, is hollowed in the same way, but not so deeply. An airway for the embouchure is then carved, and sometimes a lip on the outside at the embouchure opening. A mouth with an edge like that of a recorder, commonly rectangular, or a crescent, circle, or irregular shape, is cut in the top side. The mouth, in the case of a whistle with one sounding chamber, is often near the embouchure. In whistles with more than one chamber, a mouth for each is located near the top, middle, or end of the whistle. The two halves generally fit together airtight without gluing; they are bound together in one or more places with split spruce root or shredded cedar bark, or rarely with animal sinew that is painted or left in its natural form. Modern binding materials include string, gauze, and cloth. If the wood dries and shrinks over time, the joint can be made airtight again by applying resin. Paper is applied on the sides of some modern instruments....


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....