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Article

Mervyn McLean

(‘ground bamboo’)

Stamping tube set of the ‘Are’are people of Malaita, Solomon Islands. Among the neighbouring Kwarekwareo they are called ‘au ni wado. A set consists of ten bamboo tubes 13 to 46 cm long, closed by a node at the lower end. Unlike the kiro stamping tubes which accompany singing, they are carefully tuned to a pentatonic scale. A single musician sits on the ground or on a low seat, legs spread. On the ground between his thighs he places a stone against which he strikes the tubes of his choice, held four in each hand. Between the two largest toes of each foot he wedges one of the two remaining tubes, which he strikes on smaller stones, one by each foot. Alternatively the tubes may be shared among two or three musicians, in which case the ensemble may increase to 12 with each player holding two tubes in each hand. The simultaneous and alternate striking of the tubes produces a sound like a xylophone....

Article

Bekuru  

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...

Article

[belémban-bátchot]

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...

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

Article

Bora  

Bullroarer of the Borli people, Northern Province, Papua New Guinea. It is used during initiations and is represented to women and the uninitiated as the voice of evil spirits.

E.W. Chinnery: ‘Notes on the Natives of South Bougainville and Mortlock (Tahu)’, Territory of New Guinea Anthropological Report (1931) no.5, pp.115–7....

Article

Botgef  

Raymond Ammann

Panpipe of the island of Espíritu Santo in Vanuatu. It has six to eight graduated bamboo tubes and is used in ensemble for polyphonic performance. The names of the tubes correspond to the members of a family. For example, in the Morouas language the longest tube is called tinan (mother), the second longest ...

Article

Brere  

Raymond Ammann

Bundle panpipe of Vanuatu. It is called brere in the Fimele language on Santo island, bepwe sangawulu in Wailapa, nehr in several languages in northwest Malakula, and nimbucan in Nahai’i on Tomman Island. There is no formal difference between the Santo and Malakula bundle panpipes. In both cases the upper end of the bamboo tubes are half-open (the node is pierced only in the centre) and completely open at the bottom, the distal end being cut above the node. All the instruments have a fixed order of tubes arranged according to length. The tubes can number from six to ten. For example, in Brenwei village in northwest Malakula the instrument consists of six bamboo tubes. The longest are named un in and mit unin, the middle ones are called mit and sar mitn, and the two shortest are called sar in and sar in mitn.

The instrument is not set at the lip, as is a raft panpipe, but held about 10 cm away from the mouth. The musician blows in a finely directed stream, as in whistling. While playing, the instrument is not moved but the musician moves his head to direct the air into the desired tube....

Article

Raymond Ammann

Transverse flute of the northern Pentecost Island, Vanuatu. In central Pentecost it is called bua bangro. Codrington was the first to mention the instrument and it was probably he who gave it the name ‘double flute’. He refers to the island of Ambae, where the instrument is called waru. Speiser adds Ambrym as another island where the same flute type is known. Nowadays, in the north of Ambrym it is called bao bolbol or bao melau or bao lusur, where it is decorated with black triangle patterns. This unique flute has two embouchures into which the musician blows simultaneously. The middle part of the flute is held to the mouth, from which air escapes from the left and right sides directly into the two embouchure holes, striking the edges as in a notched flute. Codrington describes the instrument from Ambae and the method of playing it: ‘The waru, double flute … consists of two lengths of slender bamboo with the knot between them; on either side of the knot on the upper side is a hole, and at both ends two holes above and below. When the instrument is played, the knot with its two holes goes into the performer’s mouth, his outstretched hands support the bamboo, and he modulates the sound with his fingers and thumbs on the holes at the ends. The bamboo used is not more than two-thirds of an inch in diameter, for a strong sound is not liked; the music of the ...

Article

Bue  

Raymond Ammann

Idiophone of Vanuatu. It is a bundle of dried bamboo struckto accompanydance. Bue in many languages of Vanuatu means‘bamboo’, and the term is often part of the name of panpipes and slit drums made from bamboo. On many islands several bamboo stalks 3 to 4 metres long lie on the flooror are set in forked sticks; in the latter case, the musicians can stand while striking the ...

Article

Raymond Ammann

Raft panpipe of Ambae in Vanuatu. Bue means ‘bamboo’ and balabala means ‘arranging in a line’. The name of the raft panpipe on the neighbouring island, Pentecost, with a very similar culture and language as northeast Ambae, is buabava. R.H. Codrington: The Melanesians: Studies in their Anthropology and Folk-Lore (Oxford, ...

Article

Bui  

Article

Bulbing  

Margaret Gummow

Percussion idiophone of Australia, so called in the Bundjalung area and played by women throughout the southeast, as well as north along the Queensland coast and as far west as Adelaide in South Australia. It comprised apossum skin turned inside out, stuffed with feathers or rags, and struck with the hand or a stick. It was held on the lap and beaten constantly throughout a song. In some regions, such as the Murawari area of western New South Wales, the pillow was made of kangaroo skin and stuffed with possum fur, and several people beat it simultaneously with their hands. The skin pillow was still being used in the early 1990s; later, as it became difficult to obtain possum skins, substitutions such as a rolled-up blanket were made. In the Ngarrindjeri area near Adelaide, the pillow was still being used by women in 1951 on Hindmarsh Island during a re-enactment of the journeys of the explorer Charles Stuart....

Article

Raymond Ammann

Term in Fwài, Nemi, Jawe, and Pije for bark clappers of New Caledonia. These are the most typical idiophones on the Grande Terre (main island), evidently popular in past times, nowadays conspicuously in use in the centre and the north; the instrument has even been adopted by kaneka bands (a local popular music inspired by reggae). Nothing quite comparable to the bwan-jep is found outside the Grande Terre, and it symbolizes the music of the Melanesian population (Kanak) of New Caledonia.

While its names vary in different languages and regions (dööbwe in Xârâcùù; pédawa in Ajië; jepa in Paicî; bwajep or bwajé in Cèmuhî; duba in Nyâlayu), the instrument is consistent in form, size, and construction. One instrument consists of two clappers, often of different sizes but both shaped like elongated isosceles triangles and held at the pointed end. The larger of a pair can have a perpendicular length of up to 50 cm and at the extremity a breadth of up to 30 cm, whereas the smaller might measure 40 by 25 cm....

Article

Steven Knopoff

Wooden drone pipe played with varying techniques in a number of Australian Aboriginal cultures. Often regarded as a pan-Aboriginal instrument, the didjeridu is probably indigenous only to certain cultural areas lying along the north coast of Australia, especially in Arnhem Land and other areas in the ‘Top End’ of the Northern Territory. A number of didjeridu-playing cultures in immediately adjacent areas (e.g. the Kimberleys) have received didjeridu-accompanied song genres from their Top End neighbours.

Aboriginal mythology regards the didjeridu as a Dreamtime creation, while the historical origin of the instrument is uncertain. The earliest known depictions of the instrument in rock art suggest that its use might date back only to about 1000 ce, though some of the song genres which the didjeridu now accompanies clearly originate from a much earlier period.

The didjeridu is called by different names in the various cultures that use the instrument. One name for the instrument coined by the Yolngu people of northeast Arnhem Land, ...

Article

Dulali  

Raymond Ammann

[bitu ni vakatagi, bitu ucu, duvu vatagi]

Nose flute of Fiji. The instrument, known locally by many names, ranges from 35 to 70 cm long and 3 to 6 cm in diameter. It is made of a single internode of bamboo, closed at both ends by the nodes, and has four to nine finger holes evenly spaced along the length and often three additional holes evenly spaced around the midpoint. It is probable that it functions as a vessel flute. Some examples in museums show burned-in decorations. Fijian nose flutes are now almost obsolete. Formerly, they accompanied certain meke dances and women singing—entertainment for chiefs—and it is said that the music had the power to attract women. Music recorded in 1972 was based on a three-tone scale, but it must have been possible to play more notes. Nose flutes also existed on Tahiti, Samoa, Tonga, and other Pacific islands.

P. Crowe: ‘Nose Flute Music of Fiji’, Domodomo: Fiji Museum Quarterly...

Article

Lali  

Chris Thompson Saumaiwai, Mervyn McLean and Jeremy Montagu

Slit drum of Fiji and Western Polynesia. It is believed to have originated in Fiji, where it is the only form of slit drum, and to have spread from there as part of the normal equipment of the sea-going double canoe. In Fiji, large instruments of hardwood up to 1.8 or even 2.7 metres are used. They have a characteristic trough or canoe shape and are beaten with two sticks (i uaua) for signalling. Formerly they were played to signal events of social significance such as wars, victories, births, and death; each signal had its proper name. Nowadays they are used to call people together for church services or other meetings. Generally a pair of instruments is used, one larger than the other, and they are played either by two players or by one person standing between them. Lali manufacture is a specialized craft passed to a son within the family. In earlier years the drums were kept in the men’s house,; nowadays they are outside, but they are often protected by a roof....

Article

Nafa  

Mervyn McLean

Drums of Polynesia.

(1) Slit drum of western Polynesia. It was present in Tonga in pre-Contact times, and in 1784 Captain Cook reported it as between 90 and 120 cm long, twice as thick as a man and entirely hollowed with an 8 cm slit running its full length. It was beaten to accompany dance with two sticks about 30 cm long and ‘as thick as the wrist’. It produced a powerful sound and different notes were obtained by beating the drum in the middle or near the end. By the 1970s the nafa was used only to accompany the me’etu’upaki dance; for other purposes it has been displaced by the lali. In Samoa it was rare by 1897 and is now obsolete; it is thought to have been a medium-sized drum played with two sticks like the Tongan nafa. In other places the nafa resembles those of Tonga and Samoa. In Tikopia it is a short trough of carved wood, beaten as a sounding board to mark the rhythm of the dance. In Tuvalu it is a rectangular slit drum about 120 cm long with a narrow slot. It is beaten, like the smaller ...

Article

Mervyn McLean

revised by Raymond Ammann

Slit drum of the ‘Are‘are people, Malaita, Solomon Islands. This horizontal slit drum is used solo exclusively to send signals. The approximately 12 known signals include the announcement of a death, a forthcoming feast, the upbraiding of a pig thief, and so on. In the north of Malaita (To’abaita people, Fataleka people) these signals are struck with a single stick, and in the middle of the islands (‘Are‘are people) they are struck with two sticks in the same way as in the slit drum ensemble ...

Article

Ove