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An iconographic topic popular since the Renaissance, often satirical, in which an imaginary keyboard instrument is depicted with closely confined cats (or other animals) replacing the usual sounding elements. In place of a normal keyboard, the player pulls the animals’ tails, presses their paws or manipulates other body parts to activate the instrument, resulting in cacophony. Such depictions are commonly accompanied by a moralizing poem, aphorism, or other sententious literary device (e.g. ...

Article

Sally Sanford

Technique of body percussion. Known as peh dada on the island of Aceh (the northernmost province of Indonesia), it involves beating one’s hands or fists rhythmically against one’s upper ribs. Early 18th-century sources associate chest beating in Aceh with laments (phô) and royal mourning rituals that are now also found in other Shi’a areas, such as Iran and Iraq. Kartomi indicates that it is generally considered to be a ‘centuries-old tradition essentially native to Aceh’, but chest beating is a widespread mode of acoustic communication, practised by gorillas as well as humans....

Article

Sally Sanford

Technique of body percussion. A one-hand snap is produced when the pad of the middle finger with a stiffened distal interphalangeal joint is pressed firmly against the tip of the thumb and the thumb is then suddenly moved outwards, causing the pressing finger to snap against the ball of the thumb (the thenar eminence). In two-handed snapping, the thumb and third finger of one hand grasp the top and bottom of the tip of an inwardly pressing finger of the other hand and then suddenly pull away, causing the released finger to snap downwards. The loudest finger snap has been measured at 108 dB. Rhythmic finger snapping occurs in many genres including folk, theatrical, rock, jazz, modern, and non-Western musics, often to accompany singing or dancing. Bernstein called for finger snapping in ...

Article

Laurence Libin

Apart from the dangers (cuts, burns, eye and muscle injury, dust inhalation, chemical toxicity, etc.) inherent in making instruments, playing and maintaining them also pose risks that belie the benign associations of music-making. When these risks are ignored, users and instrument technicians can suffer serious consequences. Musicians’ unions have drawn attention to health problems arising from performance conditions, and some medical doctors specialize in issues of concern to musicians; the Performing Arts Medical Association represents their interests in the USA. Physical therapists employ Alexander and Feldenkrais techniques among other corrective exercises aimed at improving performance functions. This article cites some typical occupational hazards, which range in severity from minor muscle strain to tooth displacement to permanently disabling accidents. For example, crushing injuries can result from unsafe moving of pianos, and a piano technician can lose an eye if a string breaks during restringing or tuning. Pipe organ technicians often work high within an organ’s case where, in old organs particularly, ladders, access boards, and pipe racks can give way, causing falls....

Article

Carole Pegg

[throat-singing, chant biphonique, chant diphonique, höömii]

A vocal style in which a single performer produces more than one clearly audible note simultaneously. In melodic overtone-singing styles, a drone is produced on the first harmonic or fundamental and a flute-like melody created from a series of upper harmonics or overtones. In non-melodic styles, overtones may occur because of the pitch of the fundamental drone combined with the vocal sounds being enunciated, for instance when Mongols sing the bass overtone-singing style harhiraa höömii or Tibetan dge lugs pa monks in Gyume and Gyütö monasteries chant using a profound bass in the chest register. Overtone-singing may also comprise a rich tapestry of harmonics without the presence of a drone.

Myths of origin vary. Tuvans believe that overtone-singing originates in lullabies sung by women dating back to the time when humans first inhabited the earth, or that it originates in the environment; Khalkha Mongols cite musical communications between natural phenomena and the effects of such sounds on humans. Both Tuvans and Mongols generally refute connections posited by Europeans of its relationship with Shamanism, Buddhism or the jew's harp. Given their beliefs about the spirits of nature, however, overtone-singing may traditionally have been linked to folk-religious practices....

Article

Sally Sanford

(Ger. patsch, ‘smack’)

Technique of body percussion. The palm of the hand rhythmically strikes the thigh, normally close to the knee. Usually both thighs are lightly struck simultaneously, but patsching can also alternate between the thighs. It can be done while seated or standing and on bare flesh or clothing. Patsching is used in many styles of body percussion, for example in Tyrolean folk dancing, where other parts of the body may also be struck, and is often used by music educators in teaching rhythm to children....

Article

Sally Sanford

Playing tunes or creating sound effects using the player’s teeth.

(1) Depending on the technique used, the teeth act as concussion or percussion idiophones. In the concussion paradigm, the player clicks the upper and lower teeth together while adjusting the shape of the mouth and the vocal tract to vary the pitch and tone. Malocclusion can make this technique challenging. In the percussion paradigm, the player uses a one-, two-, or multi-finger technique, striking a tooth (usually one of the upper central incisors) with a fingernail either by flicking the nail off the edge of the thumb or by brushing it against the edge of the tooth. The two-finger technique (using a finger from each hand striking both central incisors) and the multi-finger technique (using both hands) are usually better for faster tempos. Pitch changes are achieved both by striking the tooth at different contact loci, including the front of the tooth and the bottom, as well as varying the mouth opening and vocal tract. Tooth size will also affect the pitch range and timbre. A skilled teeth player can reach two octaves or more, though most amateurs usually have a range of an octave or less....

Article

Sally Sanford

Technique for producing sound by pressing the tip of the tongue against the superior alveolar ridge with the mouth open and bringing the tongue down, thus creating a click. Pitch can be varied by adjusting the length of the phonatory tube by pursing the lips, by lifting the palate, and by making other small opening and closing adjustments in the mouth. Recognizable tunes can be clicked. Dynamics can also vary, principally due to the amount of pressure in the tongue tip and the forcefulness with which it is pulled away from the alveolar ridge. Tongue clicks occur in many African languages, Mongolian shamanism, and various pop, jazz, and scat styles associated, for example, with singers such as Al Jarreau, Janet Lawson, and Miriam Makeba. Karlheinz Stockhausen called for tongue-clicking in Refrain (1959).

Some beat boxers use a different technique, where one side of the tongue is tightened and the other side is loose while air is expelled from the mouth. It is usually microphone-dependent to be sufficiently audible. Another type of click can be made by tightening one side of the tongue and pressing it against the side of the palate and then releasing it quickly....

Article

Sally Sanford

[megolokwanekaklakuyuyuololugeologymusitaltakulavaiulu-uliuruli]

Vocal technique of high-pitched sustained wailing or howling with a trilling aspect involving rapid movement of the tongue and uvula. Ululation is practised usually by women in many Arab, African, and Asian cultures. It is associated with celebrations such as weddings, and with grieving. It is used in worship in Eritrean and Ethiopian Orthodox churches. Ululation is also part of audience participation in music of the Shona in Zimbabwe. Western singers such as Joan La Barbera have incorporated ululation into their extended vocal techniques. See ...

Article

Sally Sanford

Unvoiced vocalization technique involving a slight adduction of the vocal folds but not enough to create pitch, while still using the articulation of normal speech. Activity in the abductor muscles (the posterior cricoarytenoid) is increased in order to prevent vocal fold vibration. There is a smaller supralaryngeal aperture than in speech, creating constriction in the larynx.

Stage whispering is a louder form of whispering that has been a part of theatrical technique at least since the mid-19th century. Quiet whispering uses about twice the airflow rate of normal speech and loud whispering uses about three times the airflow. The activity in the thryopharyngeous muscles is two times greater in stage whispering than in quiet whispering, with even greater constriction in the supralaryngeal aperture. For many actors and singers, stage whispering, which is intended to be heard by the audience, can also involve some soft phonation.

Other types of unvoiced vocalization without pitch include gasping, panting, and sighing. Gasping involves a strong, sudden intake of breath through the mouth with sufficient adduction of the vocal folds so that the inhalation is audible. In panting, both inhalation and exhalation are audible during rapid, shallow, short breaths. Sighing is an audible exhalation with a slow, gentle release of the breath....

Article

Sally Sanford

A form of foot percussion involving rapid stamping and tapping of the heels and toes (shod in a flamenco shoe) in a rhythmic fashion associated with flamenco. The feet are relaxed and most of the work is done by the lower leg, which initiates the movement with a backswing of the foot by bending the knee almost 90° off the floor before dropping the foot down adjacent to the instep of the standing foot. Digs and stamps allow the dancer forward and lateral movement. Digs are executed with a backswing of the foot landing on the ball of the foot slightly behind the standing foot. The stamp (golpe) also begins with a backswing, landing with forward movement as the heel strikes the floor. Modern flamenco shoes (zapatos for women and botas for men) have thick soles and small tacks on both the toe and heel. The heel of the shoe is elevated. Female dancers face the added challenge of executing rapid footwork while wearing a heavy dress with a long train (...