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Article

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, ...

Article

Belikan  

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....

Article

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....

Article

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....

Article

Belly  

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 ...

Article

Article

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 ...

Article

Beng  

Ferdinand J. de Hen

Article

Benta  

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....

Article

Article

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....

Article

John M. Schechter

[berimbau de barriga, urucungu, rucumba]

A Brazilian Musical bow of African origin, with a single wire string and sometimes a gourd resonator. Despite its origin, in the north and north-east it takes a Portuguese name, the berimbau or berimbau de barriga (jew’s harp of the belly), while it is called urucungu in the south. The berimbau is the principal accompanying instrument for Bahian capoeira, a stylized martial art of the region. A richly creolized product of the black world with several prototypes on both sides of the Atlantic, those in Brazil include several related to Kongo/Angolan bows. The most important found during the colonial period were the Luandan hungu and the embulumbumba of south-western Angola, brought as part of the slave trade.

The player holds a stick and a small wicker basket rattle, called caxixi in Bahia, in his right hand and percusses the string with the stick. In his left hand he holds the bow and occasionally applies a metal coin to the string; the coin serves as a bridge, giving a second fundamental pitch perhaps a semi-tone or a whole tone above that produced from the open string. It is often played held against a naked body, specifically in ...

Article

Laurence Libin

(b Madrid, Spain, July 2, 1932). Spanish guitar maker. He became interested in guitar making while studying the classical guitar with Daniel Fortea, a pupil of Tárrega. He was apprenticed in 1954 to Ramírez and rose to become head of that famous workshop, leaving in 1969 to open his own business in Madrid. In the early 1970s he began experimenting with new internal structures using at first five struts, then seven, then an innovative pattern of four struts extending from the soundhole and three fan braces of different heights and thicknesses. He also developed a novel back design, and has sometimes employed unusual woods such as pear and camphor. His instruments’ colourful, strong but sweet, sustained tone attracted professional interest, and in 1972 Bernabe completed a ten-string guitar for Narcico Yepes, who played it for the rest of his career. Two years later Bernabe won a gold medal at the International Crafts Exhibition in Munich....

Article

Charles Beare

French family of violin makers. Auguste Sebastien Philippe Bernardel (b Mirecourt, 24 Jan 1798; d Bougival, 1870), known as Bernardel père, was apprenticed as a violin maker in Mirecourt before moving to Paris to work for Lupot and Charles François Gand. He opened his own workshop in Paris in 1826, where he remained for 40 years, creating a large number of violins and cellos on the pattern of Stradivari. Occasionally he followed Guarneri or Maggini. Although overshadowed by those of his colleague J.-B. Vuillaume, Bernardel’s instruments are characterized by fine workmanship and choice materials. He was less successful with his varnish, and his violins sometimes appear rather bulky. The cellos are greatly sought after. His instruments won recognition and awards at expositions as early as 1827.

He retired in 1866 in favour of his two sons, Ernest Auguste Bernardel (b Paris, 1826; d Paris, 10 Dec 1899...

Article

Bhuang  

Carol M. Babiracki

[buang]

Single-string plucked stick zither of the Santāl people of Orissa, Bihar, and West Bengal, India. The body is a long bamboo tube with a flexible stick inserted in each of the two open ends. A hemp playing string is tied to the free ends of the sticks, arching them inwards; the string is held parallel to the tube and about 20 to 25 cm away from it. Alternatively, the playing string can be attached directly to one end of the tube and at the other end to a long stick peg affixed perpendicularly into the tube. In both versions a long bamboo basket resonator is attached to the underside of the tube at its centre, with the open end facing downwards. The basket is covered with decorative paper and streamers.

The player holds the tube in one hand and plucks the playing string with the other. The instrument adds rhythm and a drone of indefinite pitch to the instrumental ensembles accompanying Santali communal dances....

Article

Geneviève Dournon

Idiochord tube zither of Madhya Pradesh (Bastar district), India. The instrument may be designated by several terms: the Maria people call it bhuyabaja in Halbi (the lingua franca of this region), or dumir in Koya (Gondi dialect), and Grigson (1938) mentioned it as pak dhol or veddur dhol, which literally means ‘bamboo drum’.

The bhuyabaja is made of a section of bamboo, cut between two nodes, about 50 cm long and 8 cm in diameter. The outer surface of the bamboo is excised in part and cut into thin strips to provide two or three strings, raised on small movable bridges, also of bamboo. The Maria treat the zither as a string drum, striking the strings with two sticks. It is made and used during certain seasons for agrarian rites, which explains why it is rare. The tube zither, probably of Malay-Indonesian origin, is found only among a few tribal populations in India. It is used mainly in Indonesia, in the highlands of Vietnam, and also in Madagascar ...

Article

Bib  

Accessory used occasionally by cellists and double-bass players. It is a length of smooth, usually padded cloth that is draped loosely over the part of the instrument that rests against the player’s clothing, to protect the instrument’s surface from abrasion and moisture. For the same purpose violinists and violists often place a piece of cloth under the chin (over the chinrest if present) and on the shoulder. The material is small and light enough not to interfere with the sound....

Article

Term meaning ‘two strings’. In clavichords and pianos, for example, a bichord is a pair of strings sounding the same pitch and activated simultaneously by a single tangent or hammer. Many 18th-century pianos have bichord stringing throughout, but later ones often employ trichords in the treble; some early 19th-century pianos retain bichord stringing, while a few have four struck strings per note. Modern pianos generally have bichords only in a portion of the lower register, with trichords above and single strings in the extreme bass. Lutes, mandolins, and related instruments with bichord courses are often called ‘double strung’....

Article

Allison A. Alcorn

(b Elgin, IL, Dec 12, 1899; d Downey, CA, June 7, 1968). American guitar maker and inventor, known as the father of the electric solid-body guitar. Before World War I he was a patternmaker at a machine shop in Los Angeles. After the war he became a motorcycle racer known as ‘P.A.’, a nickname that carried into later life. During World War II, Bigsby designed parts for US Navy ships. As a guitarist, Bigsby played with an amateur country and western band, and in 1944, dissatisfied with commercially available guitars, he set out to make a better one. He brought his prototype lap steel guitar to Earl ‘Joaquin’ Murphy, who liked it so much that Bigsby built for Murphy his first Bigsby D-8, a double-eight-string lap steel guitar (i.e. an instrument with two necks having eight strings each). The T-8, a triple-eight-string console steel guitar (having three necks, each with eight strings) that Bigsby built for Murphy in ...

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