martedì 10 gennaio 2017

MUSICA DAL MONDO


H. 6.        Flutina (Harmoniflüte), anonymous. First half of 20th century, probably Indian. This instrument is a little harmonium with free reeds; the bellows, on the back, are activated with the left hand while the right plays the keyboard. The range is from C2 to D4, the chromatic keys are made of ebony while the diatonic keys are plated with mother of pearl. The box, made of fir, measures, with closed bellows, 55 x 29 cm (21.65” x 11.4”), h 25cm (9.85”). These instruments were born in France but nowadays are widespread in India and Pakistan.

K. 4.        Gong, 18th century, Oriental make, coming from English antique trade (the drumstick is English). The instrument is entirely made of fused bronze, with diameter of 667mm (26.25”) and presents the typical central swelling, diam. 148mm (5.2”). The border is 124mm (4.9”) wide and is receding backwards with a back diameter of 609mm (23.95”) and a weight of about 11,8 Kg (26lbs).

K. 5.        Indian gong entirely made of fused bronze, diameter 41cm (16.15”), mid 19th century. The gong is supported by a rosewood structure, amazingly inlaid.

K. 6.        Gongs, (series of four), anonymous, finely made, datable to mid 20th century, entirely made of bronze. The instruments have diameters: 1) 298mm (11.75”) emitting the note F, 2) 345mm (13.6”) emitting the note Db, 3) 378mm (14.9”) emitting the note Bb, and 4) 382mm (15.05”) emitting the note A.

M. 39.    Decoy for birds of prey (falcons), globular flute of Han Chinese people, made traditionally with river terracotta, wood oven baked, and painted black. This decoy, datable to early 20th century, is a globular flute, pyriform, 67mm (2.65”) high, with four front holes and a back hole.

N. 1.        Side-blown ivory horn made out of an elephant tusk, datable to mid 19th century and coming from Zaire (now Congo). The instrument is coloured with a brown natural colourant (derived from the cooking of resins and flowers), with a rhomboidal embouchure on the upper third and the sound is produced by the vibration of the player’s lips. The instrument presents an anthropomorphic sculpture on the top while the body is smooth; it is about 2kg heavy and 741mm (29.1”) long, with bell diameter 87 x 69 mm (3.4” x 2.7”).

N. 2.        Warning and hunting horn from Congo. The side-blown instrument is made of a piece of ivory, hollow and painted dark red, covered with leather for two thirds, from the bottom till the embouchure hole. The upper third has an oval embouchure hole in relief, and the top ends with a little hole. The instrument is 334mm (13.15”) long.

N. 4.        Reed horn from Northern Africa. Folk instrument dating back to the first half of 20th century, made of a cane with a reed to be played capped (held inside the mouth) with five front holes and a bell made of ox horn.

N. 5.        Zanza from Tanzania, datable to the beginning of 20th century. The zanzas are widespread in the whole Africa; those coming from the South of the Congo Basin are made of a series of metal tongues put on a resonator with an end tied to a metal bridge and the other end free, in order to be plucked. This instrument presents 11 tongues (one is missing) and a wooden trapezoidal resonator, 265mm (10.45”) long and wide from 110mm (4.35”) to 128mm (5.05”) with some seeds inside that, when the instrument is shaken, produce a rhythmic sound.

N. 11.     Moroccan finger cymbals (karkabas). These instruments are a sort of metal castanets, consisting in two pairs of jingles that are beaten against them. The finger cymbals are very ancient rhythmic instruments, widespread all around the world, made in different shapes and with different materials.

N. 12.     Folk lute-harp (kora) from Western Africa (Senegal) made of a sound box obtained from the half of a pumpkin covered with a painted leather (antelope?). The six strings start from different heights of the thin handle and are fasten to the lower part of the sound board passing though the vertical sides of the bridge. Next to the handle, on the board, two other thin wooden pieces are fixed with some ornamental shells used by the player to hold the instrument and play the strings with the thumbs.

N. 13.     Sarangi, fidel from Northern India, made during the first half of 20th century. The instrument is made of a large pegsbox, a short and robust handle, and a soundbox made of the wooden back in a semicylindrical shape, lightly flared in the centre, and the sound board made of parchment. The instrument is richly decorated with red and green floral drawings on black background, while on the handle there is a feminine figure. There are four metal strings for the bow and nine resonance strings with the pegs fixed on the left side of the handle. The pegs are painted black with golden heads.

N. 14.     Shō (Japanese mouth organ), 19th century, coming from The estate / collection of world renowned ethnomusicologist Elisabeth Kidd. The shō is one of the most ancient Japanese instruments (first descriptions dating back to 3000 years ago) and it is made of 17 bamboo canes with fingerhole and, inside, a free reed; the player blows in a wooden air tank at the bottom of the canes and produces the sound stopping up the holes of the canes with the fingers, so he makes the corresponding reed vibrate. This instrument presents seventeen canes with various dimensions (three mute and fourteen playable), it is datable to mid 19th century and is signed by the maker with Chinese characters.

N. 15.     Indian sitar made between the end of 19th century and the beginning of 20th century. This instrument, typical of Northern India, is made of a body obtained from a pumpkin, a wooden sound board with decorations made of wood and metal, neck and pegbox made of wood, bridges and nuts made of bone, and 19 metal frets. The melody is played with five strings starting from the pegbox and two starting from the neck, connected to large round-headed pegs, arriving to a sliding bridge, passing on the metal curved frets. Under the frets there are 11 sympathetic strings, arranged in a cavity of the neck and fixed to side pegs with flat head. The instrument is 1294mm (50.95”) long, and the width of sound board is 335mm (13.2”).

N. 16.     Folk fidel datable to the second half of 19th century, made by the Gonds, a population of Central India, and it is made of a wooden body in conical-frustum shape, with a leather sound board and a long wooden handle, turned, not fingerable, with three pegs fixed on the top for the three metal strings. The instrument was played with a short and stocky bow and the strings pass inside the wooden sliding bridge. The instrument is 1009mm (39.7”) long and the diameter of the sound board is 219mm (8.6”).

N. 18.     Ethiopian boxed folk lyra (kerar), datable to the second half of 19th century. The instrument is made of a wooden semi-cylindrical box with a leather sound board with five sound holes. The structure is made of two columns fixed in the box sustaining a crosspiece on the top and a lower piece of wood as tailpiece. The six strings are fixed from the upper crosspieces to the tailpiece, and the bridge is made from the lower border of the soundbox. This instrument, played plucking or with a plectrum made of leather or animal nail, is used to accompany the singing during religious festivities and magical rituals, especially those associated to therapeutic practice.

N. 19.     Dombra, National instrument of Kazakhstan, sort of lute with narrow and long neck, similar to the Turkish saz. The instrument presents two playing strings tightened from the pegbox and fingered on the long neck divided in 20 sliding frets tied around the neck. The body, pyriform, and the painted sound board with a little sound hole in the centre, are made of fir.

N. 20.     Nepalese rebab (rabab). The rebab is an instrument widespread in North Africa and Middle East countries, it belongs to lutes family but it is played with a bow. This instrument, made in mid 20th century, has four metal strings not fingerable on the neck, fixed on a single pin at the bottom of the instrument. The rabab is made out of a single piece of hard wood, richly carved; the goat leather of the sound board covers only the distal part on which the bridge lies. The bow is made of a much curved cane on which the bow hairs are tightened. Length 475mm (18.7”), maximum width 145mm (5.7”).

N. 21.     Afghan rubab (robab), dating back to the second half of 19th century. The rubab belongs to the lutes family and it is played plucking. This is the National instrument of Aghanistan, it has six playing strings, fingered on the short neck with three gut frets around it tightened from the pegs in the pegbox, with a sort of richly carved scroll, and fixed to the lower pin. The strings are made of gut (two) and metal (four). There are also 10 sympathetic strings made of metal, tightened from the pegs on the left side of the neck, passing through a little bridge and fixed on the same lower pin. The sound board is made of goat leather tightened on the body of the instrument that is made of a single 8-shaped piece of wood, very wide and richly adorned with studs and decorations made of silver, while on the neck there are rich bone decorations. The dimensions are: length 909mm (35.8”), height of the soundbox 216mm (8.5”), breadth of the soundbox 169mm (6.65”).

N. 22.     Double clarinet, North African instrument datable to the first decades of 20th century. It is a scraped-reed instrument and, over time, it has kept unchanged in shape and materials. The instrument is made of the main parts: the reeds (made of a cleverly carved small female cane strengthened with tarred twine), the body made of two parallel pipes, each with five holes, held together with two pieces of leather, and the bell made of horn. The instrument, 338mm (13.03”) long, is played with the circular breathing technique.

N. 23.     Tibetan horn (dungchen) datable to mid 20th century, made of copper and brass, telescopic (divisible in three pieces), 1340mm (48.8”) long. This is the typical instrument during the rituals of Tibetan Buddhism, the length goes from 1m to 3m, but it can even reach 4.5 m. In order to be played, the longest instruments are usually fixed on a wooden support. The dungchens used in Himalayas and other mountain areas produce a low sound with echo effect, so that this instrument is not used for melodies but for a basic sound and, in order to get a continuing sound, the instruments are always used in couples or the players use the circular breathing. Their sound can be heard from dawn to sunset, before the rituals inviting to pray or during important processions.

N. 24.     Cameroonian marimba, difficult dating, entirely made of dark wood, probably during the first half of 20th century. It is made of two anthropomorphic side struts, finely carved, holding two boards on which there are five sounding bars; the small number of bars indicates that the instrument had not playing function but it was used to provide warnings for the inhabitants of the villages. The approximate dimensions are: length 602mm (23.7”), width 332mm (13.05”), height 304mm (11.95”).

N. 25.     Zanza from Cameroon, datable to the beginning of 20th century. It is made of a single piece of dark wood finely carved in the shape of a woman as for the head and the feet, while the body, pyriform, is carved and over it there is a leather membrane with a triangular hole. 8 wooden tongues are fixed on the membrane, between two pale wood bridges. The instrument is 671mm (26.4”) high.

N. 26.     Central African marimba made of a supporting parallelepipedic structure on which there are eight sounding bars. The structure is maintained by twines and three little emptied pumpkins are tied under the bars as resonators. On this instrument, with the notes arranged decreasing, some very rhythmic simple melodies can be played.

N. 27.     Esraj, folk bowed instrument from Northern India, datable to the first decades of 20th century, made of rosewood, 905mm (35.6”) long, with pegs made of soft wood and two brass bands on the sides of the fingerboard. This instrument is a cross between sitar and sarangi: the first for the long neck, with four playing strings and fifteen sympathetic strings fixed by pegs to a wooden band on one side of the neck; the second for the playing technique and the wooden small soundbox with a middle constriction and with the leather sound board. The esraj has the playing strings tuned in F, C, C, G while the sympathetic strings are tuned from C3 to C5 and it is used in art music as solo instrument or, in Bengal, to accompany the female singing.

N. 28.     Pipa, Chinese traditional instrument, sort of lute with pyriform sound box, flat and thin, with four strings tuned in C, F, G, C. Instrument datable to the first decades de 20th century, it presents five big frets on the neck and fourteen on the sound board that has not sound hole, the pegbox in the shape of a sickle has four long wooden pegs.

N. 29.     Yueqin (moon guitar), Chinese traditional plucked instrument, with four strings tuned by fifths two by two in C, C, A, A. Instrument datable to the first decades of 20th century. The soundbox is circular and flat, and presents two sound holes in the shape of half moons on the sides; on the thin neck there are 17 bone frets and the sickle pegbox has four long pegs made of wood and bone.

N. 30.     Pau de Chuva (Palo de lluvia, Rainstick), Chilean, made of cylinder made out of a dried cactus, length 405mm (15.95”), diameter 58mm (2.3”), closed at the ends, with inside a spiral structure made of cactus thorn nails, and filled with shell dust, seeds, and pebbles. This shaken idiophone is spread most of all in Central and South America, and Oceania; the rainstick has very ancient origins, and nowadays is not used only for music, but also for religious rituals, propitiatory for harvest and rain. Since the ancient times the Central American populations used it also to cure diseases of nervous system, landing to the relaxing sound of the instrument similar to water, thus to the instrument itself, magical powers.

N. 31.     Anthropomorphic zanza from Cameroon, datable to the first decades of 20th century. This instrument, belonging to the zanzas made in the north of Congo Basin, presents seven wooden tongues, arranged between two horizontal planks and fixed with a leather strip to the sound board made of a wooden rectangular board (181 x 155 mm – 7.1” x 6.1”). This lies on a dark wood piece, carved, sculpted, on the part corresponding to the chest of the man with the arms upwards, well-defined face and pierced earlobe, with legs and feet that allow the instrument to stand in vertical position, height 521mm (20.15”).

N. 32.     African harp, from Cameroon, datable to the first decades of 20th century. This instrument has a wooden oval soundbox (120 x 171 x 84 mm – 4.7” x 6.75” x 3.3”) covered with different leathers; the sound board, also made of leather, has two holes, and the five strings start from it. These are fixed to five wooden pegs arranged at the end of the neck made of curved wood, 465mm (18.3”) long, fixed to the soundbox, and having on the top a sculpted human face.

N. 33.     Japanese shimedaiko used in Noh () and in Shintoist rites. The Noh is a type of theatre born in Japan in 14th century and characterised by the slowness, a spartan gracefulness, and the use of characteristic masks. The Noh texts were made in order to be freely interpreted by the audience, due to the peculiarity of the language that presents numerous homophones. During some Shintoist rites, this drum is played with the fingers by the young women. This instrument is a small taiko with the leather fixed to outer rings, thus removable; it dates back to the second half of 17th century and comes from the Gifu Prefecture. The instrument is made of wood, leather, and natural fibre ropes. The diameter of the leathers is 350mm (13.75”); the diameter of the body is 255mm (10.05”), while the height is 144mm (5.65”). The drum is made out of a single carved tree trunk lacquered with urushi lacquer on which the leathers are tightened by means of ropes.

N. 34.     Japanese Yanagawa shamisen with three strings, datable to mid 19th century. This is a musical instrument of the lutes family, played with a plectrum (bachi) and used to accompany the performances of Kabuki and Bunraku and during the Buddhist tsutome (literally service, duty). The shamisen is an instrument with relative tuning, that is the pitch of the notes changes according to the preference and there are different tuning ways. The most used tunings types are: honchoshi, between the first two strings there is a perfect fourth interval and between the second and the third string there is a perfect fifth interval; niagari, with a perfect fifth interval between the first two strings and a fourth between the second and the third; sansagari, with a perfect fourth among all the strings. Although the shamisen is a chordophone, in some genres (nagauta) the bachi is beaten on a semicircular support of the soundbox (called bachigawa), and in gidayubushi the leather of the soundbox is beaten instead, so that it also works as a percussion instrument. The top of the soundbox is protected by a cover in the shape of snake skin, lacquered red, known as kake dō. The dō (body), quadrangular, 198mm (7.8”) side, is made of karin or Chinese quince and covered, on the top and on the back, with leather (cat or dog). The instrument, 995mm (39.15”), has three silk strings that, starting from the tailpiece made of natural fibre ropes, course the narrow sao (neck) without frets, made of koki, a hard wood from Himalayas, and made of three embedded pieces, to end with three elegant pegs. The bachi is made of wood, detachable in two pieces, and with a protection for the ending part; the bridge is made of bone. It is conserved in its original case.

N. 35.     Ho-ko, small Buddhist taiko. These drums are present in Buddhist temples and their sound represents the voice of Buddha, they are mostly suspended on wooden structured and beaten with a wooden drumstick. This instrument is small, for this reason it might have been used for domestic devotion ceremonies, on the leathers there is a painted red, black, and green threefold tomoe. The leathers are pinned down to the body with large nails, while the ropes are fixed to two metal rings of the body, and are used for the suspension. The diameter is 202mm (7.95”) while the height is 84mm (3.3”). The instrument is datable to mid 20th century.

N. 36.     Japanese taiko from Shintoist tradition, used to accompany the prayers to the sky. This drum is held suspended and is beaten with wooden drumsticks; it has two leathers on a wooden body tightened with large nails, and three metal rings with some suspension ropes. The instrument dates back to the last decades of 19th century. The diameter is 345mm (13.6”) while the height is 99mm (3.9”).

N. 37.     Shakuhachi, Japanese end-blown flute made of bamboo with five holes, four on the front a one on the back. It was introduced in Japan from China and used in Zen Buddhism. It was born as meditation and prayer instrument, than it was used in real expressions of Japanese music, from traditional to modern. The shakuhachi can emit all the notes of a chromatic scale, thanks to a particular technique with angulations/inclinations of the head and the partial closing/opening of the holes. This instrument, made of a single piece, is 545mm (21.45”) long and is in D being able to emit, with the five main positions, a pentatonic scale with the notes D, F, G, A, C. The instrument is anonymous and dates back to the last decades of 19th century.

N. 38.     Bullroarer, (rhombus or woomera), is a xyloaerophone consisting of a hard wooden board that, rotating around the twine it is fixed to, produces a sound like a whisper or a rumble. Once, it was rotated during the ceremonies to symbolise the voice of the Ancient Creators. The sound of the bullroarer can vary by shortening the twine or by rotating with more or less strength. This instrument has very ancient origins, some fragments dating back to 10000 B.C. were discovered in Ukraine and in France, and it is widespread all around the world. In Australia it is used together with the didgeridoo, in Africa and in Southeast Asia during religious rituals, also in Piedmont it was use as a tool to call the flocks. This instrument, Ethiopian, is made of wood with two metal studs on the lower angles, it is 726mm (28.6”) long (even if the lower part seems to have been shortened), 130mm (5.1”) wide, and 5mm (0.2”) thick, it presents a writing and it is datable to the end of 19th century.

N. 39.     Didgeridoo, Yidaki in Aboriginal language, in E, made during the first half of 20th century by Djalu Gurruwiwi in Arnhem Land (North-East of Australia), made of stringybark eucalypt wood. Djalu is the son of Monyu, famous guide of Yolŋu people, who passed him down the secrets of the make of the instruments and of the rituals of Galpu clan, in fact the instrument is painted with the typical colours of this clan: ochre base with four alternating groups of three red and black stripes. The instrument is146,5cm (57.65”) long, it has lightly conical shape, and it is sculpted, at the base, to vaguely recall the animal symbol of Galpu people, the saltwater crocodile.

N. 40.     Nose flute dating back to the first half of 20th century, made in The Philippines by Igorot people. The Igorot people now use the nose flute no more, so that it can be considered an extinct instrument. The instrument, made of cane, is 535mm (21.06”) long; the conservation status is perfect despite the signs of the use are clear, it presents three front holes and a back hole, and on the whole body geometrical motifs are carved. To play this flute, it is placed on a nostril while the other is hold with one hand, and the other hand plays, in fact the instrument has only four holes.

N. 44.     Indian tambura made in mid of 20th century, 1134mm (44.65”) long, it presents a large pumpkin as soundbox. The long neck, 96mm (37.85”), is made of wood painted red-purple, it has four strings with two pegs on the front and two at the sides of the pegbox, the sliding bridge, is made of bone. The tambura is a kind of drone lute, with sitar-like shape but without curved frets along the neck. The strings can vary from four to six; more sophisticated models can also have a series of sympathetic strings. The tuning is regulated with the pegs on the top of the neck and to refine the tuning some bone pins at the bottom of the soundboard can be used. The sound produced by the tambura is rounded and harmonic. It is usually played to create a background (drone) in instrumental pieces and most of all for the singing.

N. 45.     Indian tabla, pair of hand drums. The bhayan, played with the left hand is made of metal, while the drum for the right hand, dhayan, is made of wood. They are in the shape of barrels, with leather tightened by means of ropes. The tension of the dhayan can be modified by rotating the cylinders between the tie rods. Both the drums have a circular area made of a paste (sihai) composed of manganese, boiled rice, and tamarind juice, which gives a particularly harmonic sound. The dhayan, made at the end of 19th century, is 258mm (10.15”) high, the diameter of the drumhead is170mm (6.7”), the diameter of the sihai is 90mm (3.55”), there are eight wooden tightening cylinders measuring 70 x 32 mm (2.75” x 1.25”) and there are some traces of a decoration on the whole surface of wood. The bhayan, made later, is 277mm (10.9”) high, the diameter of the drumhead is 405mm (15.95”) and the diameter of the shiai is 85mm (3.35”).

N. 46.     Nagara, pair of Indian membranophones from Bihar state, near the Nepal border. They are two drum with a single membrane tightened on a bowl-shaped body, used to be played, with curved drumsticks, on elephant back. This type of drums is often used in pairs, being the ancestors of the modern orchestra timpani. These instruments, datable between the end of 19th century and the beginning the 20th century, are made of riveted iron layers, with at the bottom a little vent hole, and covered with a leather held by numerous leather tie rod; they have a drumhead with diameters 410mm (16.15”) and 408mm (10.5”), height 245mm (9.65”) and 244mm (9.6”); they present two side handles to hold them fixed to the elephant back.

N. 47.     Xun, black clay ocarina or globular flute of Han Chinese people, the main ethnic group of China. It is one of the most ancient instruments of China dating back to about 8000 years ago. The xun is generally egg-shaped with flat bottom, with 5-7 holes and it is played blowing in a large hole on the top. The xun range is about two octaves, with the higher notes needing a certain grade of ability to be clearly played. Used during ceremonies, the xun survives in Taiwan, but it’s almost disappeared in China. Nowadays it has been re-evaluated because of the discovery of ancient xuns in archaeological sites, and there are also some xun virtuosos in China and Hong Kong. This instrument, made by a skilful artisan whose sign is impressed on the bottom, dates back to the end of 20th century, it is 87mm (3.4”) high, the major diameter is 58mm (2.3”), and it presents six front holes and two back holes, and an elegant yellow decoration.

N. 50.     Erhu, traditional two-stringed Chinese violin, the name meaning literally “two strings”. It has a sounbox made of red sandalwood covered with python leather on which the bridge lies. In the soundbox, opened on the back, the neck is inserted, with, at the top, two pegs used to tune the strings that have a fifth interval (D4 A4) between them. It is played with a straight bow, very similar to the bow of a violin, with horsehair inserted between the strings of the instrument. The erhu is played while seating, with the sound box on the left thigh and the neck in vertical position. This instrument is 70mm (27.7”) long, the diameter of the soundbox back is 68mm (2.65”), the top covered with the leather being 47mm (1.85”), and it is 127mm (5”) wide.

N. 52.     Dramyin (sgra-snyan), long-necked Tibetan lute ending with a pegbox in the shape of a horse- or dragonhead, dating back to mid 19th century. It has five strings: two double courses and a low string, it is played with a plectrum. It was considered the main string instrument in religious music of Tibetan Buddhism but, now, it is common in profane art music. Its shape, in particular the painting technique on the dragonhead, demonstrates that it was introduced in Tubo (ancient name of Tibet) during Tang dynasty. Some sgra-snyan can be seen to be played by angels in Buddhist rock art of 7th century, but also by Hindu Gandharvas. This instrument has some traces of red and orange on the dragon head and a circular geometrical decoration on the top of the sound board. The two parts of the soundbox are sculpted with floral motifs that have traces of red, yellow, green, and blue. The whole instrument is made out of a single carved mulberry wood block: the sound box has a very pronounced 8 shape with the upper bout made of a wooden sound board continuing with a tapered neck till the pegbox, the lower bout is made of a goat kid leather on which the bridge lies. A small hard wood plectrum is fastened at the joint of the strings. The total length is 752mm (29.6”).

N. 53.     Kurdish tanbur dating back to the end of 19th century. The name comes from “pandur”, Sumerian word that indicates a long-necked lute. The tambur was already used in Sassanian period (5th-6th century A.D.). In 10th century A.D., Al-Farabi described a tambur widespread on the South and West of Baghdad, and a tanbur used in Khorasan Province, in Persia. This distinction can be the differentiation source between the modern Arabic instruments, deriving from Baghdad tanbur, and the instruments of Kurdistan, Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sindh, and Turkey, deriving from Khorasan tanbur. Later, the Kurdish tanbur was associated with music of Ahl-e Haqq, a Kurdish religious movement similar to a Sufi order. It is now the only musical instrument used in Ahl-e Haqq rites and the tanbur players venerate it as a sacred object. This tanbur has a pyriform soundbox carved in mulberry wood, a long and narrow neck that can be fingered with 14 sliding gut frets, and, on the top, three T-shaped pegs for the metal strings, two high strings tuned on unison and the low string tuned on a fifth. The soundboard has five small sound holes and a little bridge. The length is 859mm (33.8”) while the maximum width of the soundbox is 172mm (6.75”).

N. 54.     North African cymbals made of brass, with diameter 160mm (6.3”) wide, with very small crash area measuring 8mm (0.3”). The pair of cymbals is datable to mid 20th century and presents two rope loops as grip.

N. 59.     Japanese koto dating back to the first decades of 20th century. Together with the instrument there is a kurotomesode kimono belonged to the player. The koto (箏) is a chordophone musical instrument belonging to the cithara family, derived from Chinese guzheng. It was introduced in Japan during the Nara period. The body of the instrument consists of a soundbox, 182cm (71.65”) long and 24cm (9.45”) wide, made of Paulownia wood. Thirteen strings with the same diameter run along it, every string lies on a sliding bridge (ji, 柱) made of bone, the strings are played with a nail-like plectrum. The koto is compared to a lying dragon. For this reason, the parts of the instrument have names recalling the parts of the mythical animal, like for example ryūkō (dragon’s shell): is the upper part of the soundbox; ryūzu and ryūbi (dragon’s head and dragon’s tail): are the ends of the instrument. At first, for long time, the koto was only used within the Emperor’s court. This condition changed in 17th century most of all thanks to Yatsuhashi Kengyō (1614-1684) who worked to make the koto more accessible to the population. He created the hirajōshi tuning and as well as some compositions become classics of the koto literature like Rokudan and Midare. The koto is played laying it on the floor thanks to four small wooden feet. The player is seated or on his/her knees in front of the instrument and plucks the strings with three plectrums (tsume) fixed on the thumb, the index finger, and the middle finger of the right hand. There are two types of plectrum according to the two traditional learning schools of this instrument: with oval shape, used in Yamada School, and with squared shape, used in Ikuta School. The left hand is not used to play, but to produce a series of embellishments tightening the strings. Since 20th century, because of the influences of Western music determining the development of New Japanese Music, the players started to pluck also with the left hand to produce polyphonic effects. The koto is tuned by opportunely moving the bridges. There are different types of tuning, according to the musical genre, the piece to be played, or the school tradition. Some of the koto tunings are: the hirajoshi (one of the most used), the kokinjoshi, the gakujoshi, and the honkumoijoshi. The strings of the koto have a numerical name starting to the string that is farthest from the player. The names are: ichi (一 “one”), ni (ニ “two”), san (三 “three”), yon/shi (四 “four”), go (五 “five”), roku (六 “six”), shichi/nana (七 “seven”), hachi (八 “eight”), kyū (九 “nine”), jū (十 “ten”), to (“eleven”), i (“twelve”), kin (“thirteen”). The note of each string changes depending to the chosen tuning. The score for the koto is generally a tablature read from top to bottom and from right to left. Thus on the tablature there are the names of the strings to be plucked and not the notes, so that if it’s not known the type of tuning, the piece cannot be played. On the tablature there are also the signs indicating the finger to be used and the types of embellishments.
N. 61.     Kou Xian (Chinese: 口弦) datable to the second half of 20th century with its bamboo case. This is a plucked idiophone similar to Jew’s harp using the player’s mouth as soundbox. It is made of four (sometimes three or five) brass small frames with central lamella joined among them on one end. It is widespread in the whole China; in particular it is common in ethnic groups of South West China such Yunnan, Guangxi, and Guizhou. The tuning of the lamellas is given by the first tones of the minor pentatonic scale. The length is 62mm (2.45”) while the case measures 93mm (3.65”).

N. 62.     Egyptian rabab datable to the second half of 20th century. Also called rababah, it is a traditional violin of Egyptian rural folk music (sha’abi) but it is an instrument widespread all around the Arabic world. It is a viola played vertically with a bow. It probably derives from the Persian violin, the kamanjah, and from the joza, typical violin of classical Iraqi music. There are documentations since the 10th century, on Al Farabi’s works, and during the Middle Age it was so important that the word indicated any type of string instrument. The rababah has a long neck, painted black, with a green, red, and white decoration on the top, that is inserted in a body/soundbox covered with leather, and two black horsehair strings. The bow has the same horsehair. The sound box is made of a coconut (Egyptian Arabic: djoz el-hind), on which is tightened a goat leather. It is not a too loud instrument and it is very versatile, so it is suited to accompany the voice. For this reason it is the main instrument to accompany poetry: in rural Arabic folk tradition, it is typical the rababah ash-sha’er, the rababah of poet, love poetry, and epic poetry. In fact, it is used by Musicians of The Nile while singing the 10th century Taghribat Bani Hilal.

N. 63.     Shamanic ritual drum from Tibetan region and dating back to early 20th century made of a wooden frame with diameter measuring 320mm (12.6”) on which two goat leathers are attached with a stripe made of hide. The drum is installed on a richly decorated wooden handle and it is equipped with its traditional drumstick made of pale wood bent by fire.

N. 64.     Suona, (simplified Chinese: 唢呐; traditional Chinese: 嗩吶; pinyin: suǒnà); also called laba (Chinese: 喇叭; pinyin: lǎbā) or haidi (Chinese: 海笛; pinyin: hǎidí). It has a typical strong and high-pitched sound and it is often used in ensembles of Chinese traditional music. It is an important instrument for folk music of northern China, in particular the provinces of Shandong and Henan, where it has long been used for festival and military purposes. It is also common in the ritual music of Southeast China. In Taiwan, it forms an essential element of ritual music accompanying Taoist performances of both auspicious and inauspicious rites, that is those for both the living and the dead. This is a xiaosuona in C (sopranino), it is 318mm (13.5”) long, has a wooden body with seven front holes and a back hole, a movable brass bell, a brass mouthpiece made of two sphere between two disks, and on the top a tubular bocal to which a double reed is affixed. The instrument is datable to the second half of 19th century.

N. 65.     Dizi, Chinese flute made of porcelain datable to mid 20th century. This instrument shows a hole between the embouchure and the finger holes that is covered with a thin piece of rice paper producing the peculiar buzz of this instrument. It is made of white porcelain with several pictures of blue landscapes and a Chinese writing on the head; it is 529mm (20.8”) long and 22mm (0.85”) wide; it has six oval holes for the fingers besides the embouchure hole and the dizi hole.

N. 66.     Turkish kanun, or qanun, with 71 strings. It is a trapezoidal zither with 23 courses of three strings and a course of two strings tightened on the wooden soundboard ending with four rectangles (kayala) covered with fish leather (or parchment) on which the four feet of the long bridge lie. The length of the strings can be changed before playing thanks to the small metal nuts, thus changing the tuning according to the chosen scale. The strings are plucked by means of large metal plectrums put on the index fingers and the thumbs of both ends. The instrument, made of pale wood (walnut?), has the long side measuring 1101mm (43.35”), the base 408mm (16.05”), and the short side 295mm (11.6”). The instrument is datable to the first half of 20th century, but the old gut strings have recently been changed with nylon strings. On the oblique side there are the 71 pegs made of dark wood and the brass levers for the micro-tones, five for every course that, in vertical position, modify the pitch of the string for a quarter-tone. On the soundboard there are four carved sound holes, three in rounded shape on the bottom and one, in shape of a comma, on the top.

N. 67.     Surpeti (shruti box, sruti, swar pethi), traditional Indian instrument similar to a small harmonium without keyboard used as an accompaniment to other instruments and notably the flute. The sound is produced by metal reeds which are put into vibration by the air produced by some bellows, as an accordion. It is made of a varnished teak box measuring 330 x 220 x 60mm (13” x 8.65” x 2.35”). It shows on one side the bellows to be activated by the left hand, and on the other side six wooden bars covered with mother of pear arranged on three rows each one with three bars. Moving the bars the vent hole is freed and the notes are produced: E, D, C (upper row), B, A, G (lower row). The instrument is datable to mid 20th century and come from Gujarat, state in North-Western India overlooking the Arabian Sea.

N. 68.     Japanese statuettes made of white porcelain. On average 13cm (5.1”) high. Datable to mid 20th century. They represent seven musicians of Japanese traditional instruments, playing yokobue, hyoshigi, cymbals, harp, sho, koto and taiko.              


N. 70.     Guinbri (gunibri) North African built in the mid-twentieth century. This is a traditional instrument spread throughout North Africa, from Morocco to Egypt. The body is made from a piece of wood excavated or, those of best quality, by a carapace of a small turtle called Fakroun or fakrun (turtle). The soundboard is made with a thick enough skin that also serves to be struck, as a small drum. There are three nylon ropes anchored to large pegs arranged perpendicular to each other at the top of the round neck, narrow and long, black painted and engraved. the total length is mm. 515, the resonating chamber in tortoise is mm. 180 x 125 and on the skin, there are four groups of three holes and a hole for the anchoring of the ropes.

N. 71.     Erhu, a kind of two-stringed Chinese violin, built in the first half of the twentieth century in bamboo wood. In the body, cylindrical, covered with thin skin and open at the bottom, the handle is engaged, the top of which are two large paintings pegs that are used to pull the two strings tuned to a fifth interval (D4 A4). It is played with a right arch, very similar to that of our violin, with horsehair that are however inserted between the strings of the instrument. This tool is long mm. 491, the case has a diameter of mm. For a height of 45 mm. 117.

N. 72.     Popular clarinet, dating back to the mid-twentieth century, with an reed in the upper part of the body, the bag made of a coconut covered with white leather and pierced to the ends to accommodate the Insufflator and, on the other side, the top of the body with the reed. The body, in wood, has six front holes and a narrow bell. The instrument is long in total mm. 418 of which 40 of the Insufflator, 124 the coconut and 254 the body.

N. 73.     Two-pipe clarinet missing the bag and Insufflator, dating back to the mid-twentieth century. The two bodies, joined by each other and with their respective internal flanks, are in the mordant wood with cylindrical cane, have six front holes at the same height and a very narrow and slender bell. The right body is long mm. 322 while the left one has a long foot without holes for a length of mm. 605.

N. 74.     Laotian Khaen, made up of 16 bamboo canes tied together at the ends and arranged on two rows with canes of different height. In the central part they are interconnected by an oval wooden support with an insufflation opening on which the brass reed is fastened, placed on the longest pair of canes. Each cane has a hole that allows you to play the instrument. The longer the length and the lower the sound it produces. The instrument is usually played with the canes vertical. It produces sound both when the air is blown and when it is aspirated.

N. 75.     Valiha, a stringed musical instrument typical of Madagascar. It resembles a zither with the sound box made from a large piece of bamboo between two knots, beyond which a certain portion of a reed has generally been left on one side or the other. At the center there is a long and thin harmonic hole. Between the nodes and in the sense of the length they delicately detach themselves from the bark of the thin bands that serve as strings. These are not cut to the ends: the insertions are protected by a string wrapped all around and the strings, thus obtained, are held in tension by small bridges in wood, cork or pumpkin bark. The instrument can be played sitting or standing. Depending on the case, the lower end of the bamboo is narrow between the knees or feet, or is placed under the arm or resting on the stomach. Currently the strings are metal and there may be mechanical similar to those of the guitars for tuning. This instrument, datable to the first decades of the twentieth century, has 16 strings, is 775 mm long and mm. 68 in diameter.

N. 76.     Rubab from Peshawar, a city in Pakistan bordering the North-West regions of India. The Rubab, known as "the lion of the instruments", is a short neck lute made from a single piece of mulberry wood, with a goat skin membrane covering the hollow cup of the resonance chamber, on which the bridge. It has three melodic strings and a variable number of harmonic strings. This instrument, built in the early decades of the twentieth century, has three melodic metal strings, stretched from the bottom of the body to the quadrangular box of the pegs (one missing). On the neck, cable from the back, four pegs are allocated for the resonance strings. The table is made of goatskin nailed to the edges of the instrument body. This is a total of mm. 648, the case is long mm. 248 for a maximum width of mm. 134.

N. 77.     Chinese Suona soprano, anonymous, in turned wood, lacquered in black with a bone ring at the bell and a horn ring for ring-holder, dating back to the first decades of the twentieth century. The instrument has a conical internal chamber, it is played with a double reed and has seven front and one rear holes. This is one of the main instruments of Chinese folk music, built in various sizes, accompanies the popular rituals and songs.

N. 78.     Guan (Chinese ) anonymous, dating from the early decades of the twentieth century. The Chinese version of the north is called guanzi (管子) or bili ( or ) and the Cantonese version is called houguan (喉管). It is a double reed with cylindrical chamber instrument made of hardwood with seven front and one rear holes. The extremities are decorated with metal rings. It is long mm. 185 and its diameter is mm. 12. It plays an important role in the wind and percussion formations (chuida or guchui) that play in traditional festivals and celebrations and is still popular in the music of the northern Chinese band, as well as in some other Chinese regions. In the Beijing Opera Orchestra, the guan is used to perform military scenes along with the sound and other percussion instruments.



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