Folk & Traditional Music of the Western Continents

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AFRICAN MUSIC SOUTH OF THE SAHARA 139
piano accompaniments of certain Western popular songs. The tun­ing of both xylophone and sansa varies greatly. The keys of the sansa may be tuned by moving them forward or backward in relationship to the bridge, or by adding some pitch to them in order to increase their weight.
Other idiophones include rattles, bells, and the misnamed log drums. There are many types of rattles—pebbles enclosed in small woven containers (West Africa) and in antelope ears (the Hotten­tots) ; rattles made of fruits, nuts, reeds, or cocoons strung together (South Africa); and so on. Sometimes they are tied to the ankles of dancers. One characteristic of these idiophones is the importance evidently placed on distinctions in pitch. Rattles and bells (there are both metal and wooden bells) often appear in pairs, with one smaller than the other so that two pitches can be distinguished. This is also characteristic in the playing of the log drum idiophone, a hollowed log with one or two slits, which is most frequently used for signal­ing. Thus, while the rhythmic element seems to be pronounced in the melodic aspects of music and its instruments, we may also say that the melodic aspects of music are developed in that music and those instruments whose main function is rhythm.
There are several types of true drums, that is, drums with skin heads. The most common kinds have one head and are relatively tall; they are usually closed at the bottom. Two-headed drums and drums with an open end are also found. The drums are beaten with sticks, or with the hands, or both. Hand beating is characteristic, however, and the complex rhythms are often the results of intricate manipula­tion and alternation of fingers, thumb, and heel of the hand. Tech­niques somewhat similar to those of Africa are found in India, and there is a possibility that the rhythmic intricacies of India and Africa have a common origin. Typically drums are played in groups of three or more. They may stand on the ground, hang from a strap around the player's shoulder, be held in the player's arm or between his legs, or be sat upoq when they are played.
The types of drums and of drumming may be intimately asso­ciated with different activities. Among the Yoruba of Nigeria, dif­ferent types of drums are used for the various cults associated with the numerous gocjs in the Yoruba pantheon. For example, the igbin drums are upright drums with a single head, open-ended, with small wooden legs; dundun are kettle-drums with the skin stretched across







E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III