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Charles Beare

revised by Margaret Campbell

English family of violin dealers and restorers. John Beare (1847–1928) became an instrument dealer in 1865. He was a friend of Elgar and published some of his early music in the 1880s. In 1892 he divided his business into two parts: Beare & Son, with his elder son Walter, at 32 Rathbone Place, London, and Beare, Goodwin & Co. at 186 Wardour Street. Beare & Son, later came under the direction of Walter’s son Richard Barrington Beare (b 20 July 1908), and moved to Dunstable. They are wholesalers of new instruments and accessories. Beare, Goodwin & Co. specialized in early instruments of the violin family, becoming John & Arthur Beare shortly after the turn of the century.

Arthur Beare (b Norbury, 14 Feb 1875; d Watford, 23 Aug 1945), the younger son of John Beare, trained as a violinist in Leipzig before joining the business (...


Laurence Libin

(Delmetia )

(b Coleman County, TX, March 18, 1899; d at sea nr Los Angeles, CA, March 30, 1941). American inventor of musical instruments. He was co-founder of the National Stringed Instrument Corporation and the Rickenbacker guitar company. He played the violin and the lap steel (‘Hawaiian’) guitar in vaudeville before settling in Los Angeles, where he worked with John and Rudy Dopyera to develop an acoustically amplified guitar, probably inspired by Stroh models. An early model with a Victrola horn failed, but trials using conical aluminium resonators within a metal guitar body (a prototype of the three-cone Dobro guitar) proved successful and attracted investors. Production of metal-body guitars under the name National soon involved Adolph Rickenbacker’s nearby tool and die shop.

From the mid-1920s Beauchamp also experimented with electrical amplification of guitars (including lap steel and bass guitars) and violins of unconventional shape, without normal resonators but using simple phonograph pickups. After his collaboration with the Dopyeras ended, in ...


Charles Beare

revised by Philip J. Kass

American family of violin makers. Carl G. Becker (b Chicago, Sept 20, 1887; d Chicago, Aug 6, 1975) was the son of a prominent violinist and teacher, and his maternal grandfather, Herman Macklett, had been a violin maker. He began as a craftsman in 1901, and a year later joined the firm of Lyon & Healy, where he worked under John Hornsteiner until 1908. When Hornsteiner left to start his own business Becker went with him, staying as an assistant until 1923. By 1924 he had become an outstanding violin maker, repairer and connoisseur, and he took a position with William Lewis & Son, another Chicago firm; before 1924 he had already made about 100 violins in his spare time. After he joined Lewis he spent at least three summer months doing new work at Pickerel, Wisconsin; from 1925 to 1947 he made 389 new violins, violas and cellos, each with its serial number (100–488). For the rest of each year he supervised the repair workshop of Lewis & Son, or accompanied the president of the firm on his journeys in search of old instruments....


Kenneth Sparr

(Sueno, Svenno )

(b Askersund, Sweden, 1717; d Stockholm, Sweden, 1763). Swedish luthier, active in Stockholm from 1736. He made bowed and plucked instruments and was inspired by Guersan and the old Parisian school, as was his apprentice Johan Öberg. Some of his instruments are stamped ‘S. BECKMAN’ and numbered. In 1736–41 Beckman was apprenticed to Johan Fredrik Weidemann, who had a violin factory. Beckman cared for the instruments of the Royal Court Orchestra in 1737–8 and was a journeyman in Königsberg about 1739. In 1741 he received his license as a musical instrument maker, and in 1756 he was appointed musical instrument maker at the Swedish court. One exceptional instrument by Beckman is a guitar-cittern, dated 1757 (now in GB.L.cm). Several bowed as well as a few plucked instruments are preserved elsewhere. His instruments seem to be of varying quality.

B. Nilsson: Svensk fiolbyggarkonst (Malmö, 1998), 11–14.

See also...



Catherine Ingram and Wu Zhicheng

Lute of the Kam (Dong) minority people of southwest China. Names vary with dialect and instrument size; examples from Sanlong region, Southeast Guizhou province, are beeba ning (‘small beeba’; c68 to 92 cm long, c11 to 20 cm wide at the soundbox) and beeba lao (‘large beeba’; more than 114 cm long, 25 cm wide at the soundbox). The name beeba might be a loanword of the Han Chinese pipa. The pegbox, neck, and thick oval- or heart-shaped soundbox bowl are carved from one piece of fir or other locally available wood. Five or more soundholes pierce the thin wooden soundtable. The instrument is sometimes painted and/or decorated. The Sanlong beeba has four strings (commonly banhu strings) attached to lateral wooden tuning pegs and hitched to the tail by looped wires. Nut and bridge are about 5 mm tall. The fingerboard is fretted with two or three inset lengths of wire. ...



Ronald Lah

revised by Stéphanie Weisser

[bagana, bägänna, begenna]

Lyre of the Christian Amhara of central and northern Ethiopia. The most carefully crafted of Amhara string instruments, the beganna is noteworthy for its ornately sculpted crossbar and engraved arms. Its soundbox (gebeti) is either a square-face wooden bowl or an open box shaped as a truncated square pyramid, made of plywood in recent instruments. The open face is covered with untanned cattle skin sewn at the back of the soundbox. The ten sheep- or cattle-gut strings are bound with tuning levers and twisted around the crossbar. Their opposite ends are attached to a tailpiece held by two leather strips inserted through incisions in the skin head and fastened inside the soundbox. A hole, often shaped as a cross, pierces the back of the soundbox. The beganna is typically about 120 cm tall and the crossbar is about 45 cm wide.

Small U-shaped bits of leather (enzirotch...



Regis Stella

Term for both an idioglot bamboo jew’s harp (susap) and a musical bow of the Banoni people, Papua New Guinea. As elsewhere in Bougainville, the jew’s harp is a men’s instrument, the mouth bow a women’s. Men apply love magic to the jew’s harp to attract women. It is activated by jerking a string so that the player’s thumb strikes the base of the tongue. In a story a man named Marere learned to play it from a wild man. Women were so attracted to the sound that they would have sex with Marere instead of going fishing. Trying to escape from the women’s husbands, Marere dropped the instrument and turned into a stone; now other men can play the bekuru. The women’s musical bow, now obsolete, consisted of a string stretched between two ends of a strip of bamboo, about 45 cm long.

R. Stella: Forms and Styles of Traditional Banoni Music...



Obsolete bamboo jews harp of the Chamorro people of Guam in the Mariana Islands, Federated States of Micronesia. It took the form of a bamboo stick in which a tongue was cut. The instrument was placed in the half-open mouth and its tongue set in motion by a finger.

G. Fritz...


Raymond F. Kennedy

[belémban-túyan, belenbaotuyan]

Musical bow of the Chamorro of the Mariana Islands, Micronesia. It is especially important on the island of Guam where it has become a symbol of early Chamorro culture. The bent stick of the belembau tuyan, made of a supple native wood (usually hibiscus), is about 2 metres long. A string made from wild pineapple fibre (wire in later forms) is stretched along the stick and fastened to it at both ends. A half gourd (or two half coconut-shells, one inside the other) is attached, opening outward, part way between the ends of the stick on the side opposite the string. The player reclines or sits, the gourd resting against his stomach, and fingers the string with his left hand while striking it with a piece of sword-grass held in his right hand (see illustration). When a wire string is used, protective cylinders are worn on the fingers of the left hand. Freely translated, ...



Gini Gorlinski

Lute of the Iban people of Sarawak, Malaysia, and the Maloh group of peoples in West Kalimantan, Indonesia. It was rare in the late 19th century and virtually unknown by the 21st. The resonator and integral, unfretted neck are carved from a single block of wood. The neck constitutes up to nearly two-thirds of the instrument’s total length of roughly 80 to 90 cm. The resonator is hollowed from the top and covered with a thin wood soundtable, perforated with several small soundholes. The end of the neck is often ornamented with the carved head—sometimes including the preserved beak—of a hornbill, a bird emblematic of Iban culture.

The belikan has two strings, made of rattan, that pass through small holes in the neck to two tuning pegs, which pierce the neck laterally. At the other end, the strings are affixed to two small pieces of wood that are inserted into a wooden block raised from the soundtable. The left hand fingered a melody against the neck of the instrument, while the fingers of the right hand plucked or strummed the strings....


David Kettlewell

(Ger. Schwungzither)

A type of wire-strung psaltery characteristically swung while being played. It is classified as a box zither. Examples were produced in the early 18th century by John Simcock of Bath, who may have invented the instrument (fig.1). A modern form, known as ‘fairy bells’, was played by English and French street musicians in the late 19th century and early 20th, and as a domestic and convivial instrument in England (see Coker). The player holds the instrument in both hands, the left thumb plucking the longer strings and the right thumb, with a plectrum, the shorter ones. At the same time he swings the instrument about at arm's length, a technique that produces an evocative, undulating sound. 18th-century bell harps were about half a metre high and had between 14 and 24 triple or quadruple courses tuned diatonically, 16 being the most common number. Many instruments had wooden lugs projecting from the sides, on which the player could rest his wrists and thus help control the momentum of the swing. Modern ‘fairy bells’ are somewhat larger and have between eight and 16 single courses, tuned diatonically....


Philip J. Kass

(b Naples, Italy, Feb 24, 1907; d Naples, Italy, 1979). Italian violin maker. He was the son of Riccardo Bellarosa, a professor of violin at the Naples Conservatory, and initially studied under Vito Vitantonio in Rotello. In the late 1920s he studied briefly in Mittenwald, and later in Rome under Rodolfo Fredi. About 1930 he re-established himself in Naples. Bellarosa’s work is classically Neapolitan. His work strikingly resembles that of earlier makers such as the Gaglianos, whose names often appear in his instruments in place of his own. During the 1940s and early 1950s he appears to have been associated with Giovanni Pistucci (1864–1955), finishing and varnishing a number of Pistucci’s instruments after his death. Also in the early 1950s he attempted a model closer in character to Stradivari’s; these instruments often bear his sea-horses brand on either side of the end button. Bellarosa’s varnish is typical of classic Neapolitan varnishes and varies from golden orange to deep red, the latter often coloured with dragon’s blood....



David D. Boyden

[table, soundtable, soundboard, top plate] (Fr. table; Ger. Decke; It. tavola)

The upper surface of the body of a string instrument. It is normally made of a species of pine or spruce of fairly fine and even grain, which runs along the length of the instrument. In bowed string instruments (viols and violins), the belly is arched (see Violin, fig.2); in plucked string instruments (lutes and guitars), the belly is flat. Folk instruments of the fiddle and lute families often have a skin soundtable (for example ...



Laurence Libin

(b Bronx, NY, Oct 22, 1946). American luthier, notable for handmade archtop jazz guitars. In childhood he learned woodworking from his father, a skilled cabinetmaker, and music from an uncle, a violinist; his grandfather had worked for Steinway & Sons. A visit to the Gretsch guitar factory in Brooklyn fueled his interest in the instrument; he played a Chet Atkins model 6120 guitar from 1960 to 1968. Upon discharge from the US Air Force in 1968 he started to make his first guitar and began repairing Gibson, D’Angelico, and New York Epiphone instruments. At the time he was the youngest and least experienced archtop maker of a group that included William Barker, Carl Barney, Roger Borys, James D’Aquisto, Sam Koontz, and Philip Petillo. In the 1970s jazz guitarists such as Bucky Pizzarelli, Chuck Wayne, and Martin Taylor began to use and endorse Benedetto’s instruments. He incorporated his business as Benedetto Guitars, Inc., but in ...



Ferdinand J. de Hen



K.A. Gourlay

revised by Gavin Webb

Mouth bow of the Asante (Ashanti) and Akan people of Ghana. The instrument was first noted by Bowdich in 1817 and described as a stick bent in the form of a bow with a thin piece of split cane fastened across it as a string. This was held between the lips at one end and the string struck with a small stick whilst being stopped by a thick stick, the mouth acting as a resonator....



Jernej Weiss

[Emerich, Emerih]

(b Brno, Czech Republic, Oct 17, 1868; d Ljubljana, Slovenia, March 11, 1940). Czech composer, cellist, and music educator. Immigrated to Slovenia in 1898. After playing the cello at the Secondary School of Music of the Music Society in Brno (1884–85), he began in 1885 to study at the Organ School in Brno, where he attended composition and instrumentation classes under Leoš Janáček. He graduated with honours in 1888 and passed the national examination in Vienna in 1892. From 1889 to 1890 he was a cellist in the opera orchestra of the City Theatre in Brno. From 1890 to 1898 he taught music at the Czech Men’s College of Education in Brno and was a teaching assistant at the Brno Organ School. In 1897 he appeared before the general public in Brno (where he wrote the majority of his compositions) for the first time as a composer; he achieved his first major success as a composer with ...


Jaak Liivoja-Lorius

(fl Como, Italy, c1758–89). Italian violin maker. According to his labels he was a pupil of Giuseppe Guadagnini (spelt Guadagnino on Beretta’s early instruments). Certainly his work follows the Guadagnini school and his better instruments share many similarities with the violins of Giuseppe Guadagnini, though the varnish, varying from brown to yellow, is markedly inferior. Some scrolls, possibly the earlier ones, have rather open turns and are not especially graceful. The workmanship, although adequate, shows a lack of finish. His instruments of the 1780s are usually valued the highest and are good tonally....