MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS - online book

The History And Development Of Musical Instruments From The Earliest Times.

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MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS.
of embellishing their musical instruments is sometimes as character­istic as it is singular. The negroes in several districts of western Africa affix to their drums human skulls. A war-trumpet of the king of Ashantee which was brought to England is surrounded by human jawbones. The Maories in New Zealand carve around the mouth-hole of their trumpets a figure intended, it is said, to represent female lips. The materials for ornamentation chiefly employed by savages are bright colours, beads, shells, grasses, the bark of trees, feathers, stones, gilding, pieces of looking-glass inlaid like mosaic, &c. Uncivilized nations are sure to consider anything which is bright and glittering ornamental, especially if it is also scarce. Captain Tuckey saw in Congo a negro instrument which was ornamented with part of the broken frame of a looking-glass, to which were affixed in a semicircle a number of brass buttons with the head of Louis XVI. on them,—perhaps a relic of some French sailor drowned near the coast years ago.
Again, musical instruments are not unfrequently formed in the shape of certain animals. Thus, a kind of harmonicon of the Chinese represents the figure of a crouching tiger. The Burmese possess a stringed instrument in the shape of an alligator. Even more grotesque are the imitations of various beasts adopted by the Javanese. The natives of New Guinea have a singularly shaped drum, terminating in the head of a reptile. A wooden rattle like a bird is a favourite instrument of the Indians of Nootka Sound. In short, not only the inner construction of the instruments and their peculiar quality of sound exhibit in most nations certain distinctive characteristics, but it is also in great measure true as to their outward appearance.
An arrangement of the various kinds of musical instruments in a regular order, beginning with that kind which is the most uni­versally known and progressing gradually to the least usual, gives the following results. Instruments of percussion of indefinite sonorousness or, in other words, pulsatile instruments which have not a sound of a fixed pitch, as the drum, rattle, castanets, &c,
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