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date: 17 October 2019


  • James Blades
  •  and Robert Anderson


Concussion idiophones consisting of two or more objects in the form of sticks, plaques or vessels of wood, bone, ivory, nutshells, marine shells, etc. (For details of the Hornbostel-Sachs classification see Idiophone.) They may be hinged together at one end, or two may be hinged to a central piece. Specimens from prehistoric times onwards differ little from those still used by certain tribal groups. Among the few instruments of the Australian aborigines are clappers in the form of clapsticks and boomerangs. This suggests the early use of weapons and missiles as clappers and possibly (with the rattle) as the first substitute for such pre-instrumental music as stamping, hand-clapping and body slapping.

Prehistoric rock drawings of dancing figures and pottery of the 4th millennium in Egypt may depict clappers with curved blades held in one hand. Actual instruments, decorated with animal heads or bearded human heads, survive from Dynasty I (...

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J. Blades: Percussion Instruments and their History (London, 1970, 2/1974)