Crude and Curious Inventions at the Centennial Exhibition
A MAGAZINE OF LITERATURE, SCIENCE, ART, AND POLITICS.
THE Centennial Exhibition at Philadelphia afforded a good field for study of crude and curious inventions, and all the illustrations in the following articles are drawn therefrom.
They will be so associated by their uses or degrees of development as to permit ready comparison, the instruments of various nations being brought into juxtaposition.
The large material within the limited range described in the title will make apparent two things: the really great variety of articles presented at the Centennial; and the expediency of looking at a collection with a special object in view, rather than in a desultory manner. The limitation prescribed will also account for the absence of figures of articles, crude and curious enough, but not included here because not represented in the Centennial collection.
The primitive and peculiar instruments and machines of a people are largely the result of their special necessities and opportunities, and consequently we find widely-separated tribes, whose surroundings are similar, in possession of substantially the same contrivances, though no communication between them can be assumed with any degree of probability.
In most cases, however, the possession by different tribes or nations of peculiarly constructed implements and utensils is a distinct mark of consanguinity or conquest, and such data become important as proofs of relationship, or indications of the direction of migrations of people. Indeed, the crude mechanisms of the nations of the world, besides illustrating the degrees of civilization, are among the most authentic tokens of the common or the diverse origin of their respective owners, and ethnologists estimate them collaterally with those afforded by the language, traditions, or physical development of the peoples under comparison.
The different objects will be brought into groups for facility of statement and study, and a commencement will be made with Musical Instruments, divided into three sections, of which section one shall be Instruments of Percussion.
I. MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS.
(1.) Instruments of Percussion. The earliest instrumental music, if entitled indeed to that name, is the rhythmical sound produced by the clapping of the hands or by beating pieces of wood together. Even these sounds are capable of modulation in pitch by the condition or shape of the hands, or by the size and character of the wooden sticks. The idea of keeping time in the dance or on the march may be presumed to have been the original motive, and there are many tribes yet existing where the music, such as it is, is merely ceremonial, the maces and rattles being the accompaniment of the song, the dance, or the recitation of the historic legends of the tribe or the praises of the chief. The bard of the tribe or the rude orchestra of the festival gives such grace as he or it may to the occasion, or governs it by a system of rhythmical beatings which prevent its degeneration into mere discord.
Copyright, 1877, by H. 0. HOUGHTON & Co.
Even here it seems that, the rude instruments are insufficient, and the clapping of hands is an almost invariable accompaniment, as African travelers especially have mentioned; and this we may see for ourselves, in the pages of Lepsius, Wilkinson, and Rawlinson, to have been just as common in ancient Egypt and Assyria as now in Africa. The clapping of hands in timing or applause evidently began early in the history of our race, and was doubtless practiced by the troglodytes of Europe once as by the African tribes now. The applause of a débutante at Milan or a conqueror at Berlin is much the same as in the times when Helen appeared and the Trojans
And cry'd ‘ Inestimable.'' ”
It must early have forced itself upon the attention of the performer that not alone was a difference of sound (volume) producible in respect of its loudness, due to the violence of the blow, but that another difference (pitch) was obtained by varying the size of the sticks, and this without change in the material; and it would necessarily follow that a third difference (quality or timbre) would force itself upon his notice, referable to the material of which the percussive instruments were made.
In the rude orchestras, for instance, of the African tribes, the trumpets and drums are of various sizes to give varying pitch: the drums are of wood and of skin to give different qualities of sound. That these are not harmoniously blended is not to the present purpose, seeing that the savages do understand how to vary the pitch, and strive to maintain that of even these rude instruments, for in their nocturnal concerts a fire is always kept burning in order to dry the drum-heads from time to time, as they become relaxed by the dews of the night and thus give a graver tone than the musician considers appropriate to the place of Ids instrument in the orchestra. This is rude orchestration, true enough, and just as rude as the instrumentation; but the idea seems truly developed in the performer’s mind that in allowing the head of his little bowl drum to become relaxed he is trespassing upon the part of the score belonging to his neighbor with a barrel drum, and so he tunes up by holding his drum to the fire for a while, and then falls in again, at “ concert pitch,” let us hope.
Another illustration of both pitch and quality, even in the rude instruments exhibited in Philadelphia, is found in the rattles, which are large or small gourds, wooden cylinders or boxes, jingling bones, bars, sticks, shells, stones, and what not, whose size and material confer upon them specific differences in sound, and secure the variety of tone desired. Even their wicker rattles, the favorite time instrument alike of the Monbuttoos of Africa and of some tribes of our own Pacific slope, have been ascertained by their owners to give sounds which may be varied in pitch and quality by selection in the size and nature of the shells, pebbles, or nuts which are placed within them.
The bell is another illustration afforded by the same collection. The Niamniam of the Upper Nile has a sheet-iron bell for his own use, but a wooden one for his dog, in order that the latter may not be lost in the tall grass. Each has its clapper.
Other illustrations need not be cited, for the simple idea of music beyond mere rhythmical beating is modulation and expression, and there is no instrument— percussion, wind, stringed, or compound — but has its own capacity, either in itself or by the variation of size in instruments of the same character.
To begin with the simplest instruments, we may assume that a pair of sticks beaten together is a sufficiently primitive form. The wretched Australian has his dances with the accompaniment of the clashing kattas (digging sticks) and wirris (clubs), and the sharp rattling of the nulla-nullas (small sticks) in the hands of the females; absolutely nothing but the striking of sticks and clubs — but these in most excellent time — to the stamping of the feet and the rustling of green leaves tied in bunches round the knees and held in the hands. No special provision of instruments is made, but he is content with his yam stick and his club.
The Fijian selects his material, and his musical mace is a large stick of dry, sonorous wood struck with a smaller one, and used in giving time to the dancers in that most punctilious and ceremonious island.
The persistence of types is noticeable in musical instruments as in other lines of observation; and so the rattle sticks of the savage long ago developed into the maces of the more courtly Egyptian and Greek.
i he krolala of the Greeks was a mace with a sonorous metallic head, and the name survives in the karatula or steel rattles of India. These round-headed pegs were held between the fingers of the dancers in the festivities, and used after the manner of the modern bones by rattling in the hand. The Egyptian maces were held one in each hand, the knobs representing human heads, which were struck together in rhythmic accordance with the measure. They are generally shown in connection with the dance, and were doubtless a little more musical than the wooden clappers (pata) still used by the colored Christian population of Santo Domingo in the cathedral ceremonies on Easter Eve. As the darkness of the church is dispelled by the admission of light, the transported Africans commence rattling with their clappers and dancing about the church, enacting Guinea over again.
The Chinese clappers (Figure 1) are 10 1/4 X 2 1/4 inches, three in a set, fastened loosely with a cord. The pieces are of three different thicknesses, the thickest in the middle. One of the outside pieces is hollowed on the inside, and all are narrowed at the waist. They are played like the bones of the negro minstrels. The Chinese beggars use them as a means of extorting money from shopkeepers, who pay the rogues to “ move on.”
The Japanese clapper consists of two sticks fastened together by a thong; not strung closely like the Chinese. Nothing easier than to rap two marrow-bones together, and so the game goes on. Bottom says: —
Let’s have the tongs and the bones.”
The name “bones ” is justified by the fact that this material is a favorite for the purpose. Bones of different animals vary in their adaptability to this use, and indeed different bones of the same animal. The hard will give a sharper sound than the spongy, and noise is the principal object.
The ancients, and indeed modern savages, distinguish the particular qualities of bones for given instruments. The tibia of the man, the ass, and the crane have been favorite materials for flutes and whistles in remote and recent times; in fact, the name of the “ leg-bone ” and that of the “ flute ” are synonymous in several languages, as we shall have occasion to mention in place. There is a twofold reason for this: sentiment and efficiency. Man has no exemption; and just as the Carib honors the martial importance of his human enemy, and the Auraucanian the savage courage of the jaguar, by making flutes of their bones, so the human skin, for martial reasons, and the skin of the snake, for fetich reasons, have come to be honored, that is, distinguished by selection for the purpose of keeping time in the dance, or stimulating the warrior in the attack.
The Chinese clapper (tchoung-tou) consists of twelve slips of bamboo strung together at one end like a fan, and is used for rhythmical beating. It is stated that before the invention of paper, writing slips were made thus, like our tablets, and resembling also the Singhalese books of talipot leaves written upon with a style.
Siebold, in his Nippon, shows the same device in Japan. We need not, however, go so far for the idea, for the scybalum of the Middle Ages had in one form a number of metallic plates suspended in cords so that they could be clashed together simultaneously, and in another form a number of bells similarly suspended. This is but the " multitudinous tongue” of music, and is mere African clangor, having nothing but rhythmic effect, —
A singular modification of the rattle idea is found in one of the devices of the Mohave Indians of the western portion of the United States. Their dance rattle is a carefully notched piece of hard wood, about two feet long, which is held in one hand, while with the other the smaller stick is moved back and forth over the knobs to make a rapid rattling Sound.
From the cluster of sticks strung together and shaken as an accompaniment to the dance, the transition is easy to either of three somewhat diverse methods, which will be considered in order. They are: the basket or gourd rattle; the string of shells and other miscellanea; the row of wooden slabs beaten with a mallet. The latter is by far the most scientific, and in it we find an instrument designed to give regular successions of musical tones.
The gourd, containing some dry seeds or a few pebbles, is a complete calabash rattle. It affords an evident and easy method of making a noise, and the cucurbitaeeic are fortunately widely spread upon the earth. The sacred rattle (marakka) of the Guianian tribes is the investiture of their sorcerers, and is a hollow calabash eight inches in diameter, and containing some white stones. It is transfixed by a stick which forms a handle, and is crowned with a bunch of feathers at its top. In another form a small gourd rattle is suspended from a frame of three hoops, from which depend a multitude of beetles’ wing-cases. The Uaupé Indians of the Amazon have a similar instrument. Gourds with stones at the ends of long rods are used in the Arawak (Guiana) dance, the wrists and legs of the performers having rattling ornaments of beetles’ wing-cases and hard seeds. The negro porters of Rio de Janeiro carry rattle boxes to accompany the wild ditties which they sing as they run.
Passing to Africa, we find that dry gourds with stones are the common rattles of the Bongos of the Upper Nile, the women and children with these adding their quota to the din of the trumpets, drums, and horns which go to make the festival music, —
The rattle used as a bâton by Munza, the Monbuttoochief, is a hollow sphere of basket work, inclosing a number of pebbles and shells and attached to a stick. The same is used on the Gaboon coast.
Again crossing the Atlantic, but to North America this time, we find abundance of calabash rattles in the warmer regions on the Pacific coast, but farther north, in British Columbia and Alaska, a much more ornate style is used. Figure 3 shows the rattle of the Haidah Indians of the Prince of Wales Archipelago, Alaska. It is used in the ta-ma-na-wa, a ceremonial dance, as an adjunct to the recitation of mythological stories and the traditions of the tribe. It is likewise used as an accompaniment to music and in exorcising demons. The emblematical figures represent the mythical frog-tamer and the stork. It is of wood, painted with blue and red colors obtained by Ilaidah Indian ingenuity from Hattie. Alaska. earths, etc.
The Haidah rattle (Figure 4) is of pine wood, painted blue and red, and made in the semblance of the, Russian two-headed eagle, which has been long familiar to the Indians of that coast, the Russians being the first whites with whom they became acquainted. It lias a number of pebbles inside, and is used in the ceremonial dances and historic recitations of the tribe.
The rattle (ajacaxtli) of the Mexicans, before the Spanish conquest, was a round or oval gourd inclosing some pebbles and having a wooden handle. Another kind was of terra cotta, also inclosing balls and perforated. The balls are supposed to have been lightly attached inside before burning, and afterward broken loose by a rod passed through the holes. A Trojan terra-cotta rattle, made in two pieces and still having balls of metal inside to ring when shaken, was found by Dr. Scliliemann at a depth of sixteen feet in the excavations of the lull of Hissarlik. Figure h is a Mohave rattle of terra cotta,
The Sikkim rattle used in their temples is formed of the crowns of two human skulls cemented back to back. Each face is then covered with parchment and incloses some pebbles.
The rattles we have already described are mostly intended to be held in the hand like those in the demoniac dance of Herne the Hunter, when goblins
With rounds of waxen tapers on their heads,
And rattles in their hands,”
pinched the fat Sir John, who was masquerading as a Windsor stag.
The rattle in the shape of a necklace, or leg or arm band, is perhaps as widespread as the hand rattle.
In Africa, the Bosjesmans attach their dancing rattles to their legs just above the ankles. They are little bags made of the ears of the springboks, sewed up, and inclosing pieces of ostrich-egg shell. The Manganjas of the Zambesi have rattles of nutshells, emptied, polished, and hung upon their persons in bunches. The Niam-niams of the Upper Nile use empty nutshells attached by iron rings to belts of rhinoceros hide.
The Fijians have rattles of white shells suspended from bands. The North American Indians use rattles of antelope hoofs; and the Amazon Indians, rattles of nuthulls.
The cracking of whips to the measure of the dance or the march is common among some races of savages, was practiced by the ancient Assyrians, and is not unknown in German Whitsuntide frolics at the present day. It has been revived by Jullien in his sleigh music and by the sable harmonists in their noisy performances.
The instrument in which pieces of sonorous wood are laid upon strings and beaten with mallets is so simple in its conception that it may be assumed to he a very early invention, and is employed at the present time throughout Africa, excepting the Mediterranean countries, and also in the Malay Archipelago, Siam, and China, In Java it has attained its most improved form.
We start in our description with the wood harmonicon, because all the percussive instruments of music of this class at the Centennial Exhibition had wood for the sonorous object; but many other materials have been and are yet used, such as stone, bone, metal, terra cotta, and glass: and the earliest instrument of which we have any record is the stone harmonicon (Chinese, king) which dates back to the time of Kung-fu-tse; we shall have occasion to describe it presently.
The wood harmonicons at the Centennial Exhibition were four in number: one from Angola in the Portuguese colonies collection; one from Central Africa in the Egyptian collection: two of somewhat varying shape in the Siamese collection. The African instruments are rude, and the Asiatic much more elegant. The former are adapted to he carried and used out-of-doors, the latter to be played in-doors, being finished like furniture. In the African instruments each sonorous bar has a sounding calabash or can beneath it, the size of the gourd or other vessel being proportioned to the note emitted by the bar; the sound chamher of the Siamese instruments is a trough with sides of sonorous wood, and the bars are suspended upon two catenary cords from the ends of the frame, as will be seen by future reference to them.
With all its rudeness this instrument is the result of considerable thought and care, and the tones of the bar are never merely hap-liazard. The musician, who is probably his own instrument builder, has adopted in some cases the diatonic scale and in others the pentatonic: in still others, a scale not exactly agreeing with either. The diatonic is that usual with us, having seven intervals in the octave, two of them semitones, and having eight notes in the complete octave. The pentatonic has but five intervals, omitting the fourth and seventh, the semitones of the diatonic. By playing on the piano-forte the scale of C major the diatonic scale will be heard; now play it over again, omitting the fourth and seventh notes; this is the pentatonic scale. Or strike the black keys from F-sharp in regular succession, up or down, and this will give the pentatonic scale which prevails over Asia and Malaysia generally. The result of three score of centuries of culture in a region embracing one third of the inhabitants of the world cannot he a matter of indifference to the other two thirds.
There is no absolute reason why the diatonic scale should be preferred to all other possible Scales of intervals, and no lover of the old Scotch music dare say a word against the pentatonic scale, for in that the music is written. Even the very fingering of the black keys from F-sharp up or down, one octave, by a person who does not know how to play a tune gives that undefinable charm which hangs around so much of the Scotch music, and indicates that the pleasing effect is due not alone to the air but in part to the order of intervals. The same has been noticed of the Malay airs by Sir Stamford Raffles, Tradeseant Lay, and others who had musical ability and were fortunate in being able to travel in Malay lands.
As we have said, the wood harmonicon, known more generally by its Portuguese appellation of marimba than by any other name, was not the outcome of a day or a century. Its radical is the log beaten with a stick, and some tribes have not yet advanced beyond this. The single sounding stick, resting on two other sticks and beaten with a mallet, is used by the Ashango tribes; and among the Camma the boys beat with sticks upon hollow blocks of wood as an aid to the noise of the drums and trumpets. At this point the marimba touches upon the drum. The war drum of the Dôr and Niam-niams, and of the Fijis, is a channeled log, a trough in fact. It will be considered farther along, when we are treating of drums.
Figure 6 shows a marimba from Angola, the Portuguese colony on the west bars themselves are twelve inches long, and are separated in pairs by rods, which are notched to hold the lashings of rawhide by which the bars are suspended
The bars on the left are narrower than those on the right, the increase in size toward the latter being gradual but not quite regular. The gradation of notes, coast of Africa. It consists of ten sonorous bars of rosewood, suspended in a frame Or yoke which is about thirty inches in width and eighteen in depth. The so as to leave them free to vibrate when struck with a light mallet. A twist of the string separates the bais from each other.
however, from the highest on the left to the gravest on the right, is tolerably uniform. The tuning is done by shaping, besides the difference in size. Those on the left are thick in the middle and thinner toward the ends; the graver bars on the right are thinner at their midleng this and thicker toward their ends.
Back of the row of sonorous bars is a wide wooden rail running across the frame, and having a square hole behind each of the musical bars to allow the sound to pass into and be intensified in a calabash, which is secured by wax to the wooden rail. These calabashes are graduated in size, and singularly anticipate the late discovery of Helmholtz in a frame which is carried by the bow. It is usually laid horizontally, and often has legs to support it on the ground. It is sometimes, however, attached to a hoop, by which it is held out from the person and is hung from t he shoulders so as to be played by the performer while marching. One, not in the Exhibition but observed elsewhere, lias a frame bent round like a wheel, anti the bars assume a nearly radial position to the person carrying the instrument.
The Central African instrument, shown in Figures 8 and 9, is twenty-six inches long and has ten sounding bars with as many tin cases in the rear, similar to his “ sonorous spheres.” Each little globe is of one calabash, a hole being made in its side to fit against the hole in the rail, its own natural opening being turned upward and a neck attached to it with wax. The rear view of the marimba shows these features, and represents the instrument in the condition it really presented; one calabash has fallen off, and several others have lost their necks.
The wood harmonicon of Central Africa, like that of Congo, is suspended in rocket cases and taking the places of the calabashes in the marimba from Angola. These are painted red, and are from five to six inches long and about two inches in diameter; their variation in size would hardly seem to be in accordance with the compass of the notes, but this is quite limited. We need not look for accuracy here, or even that approximation to it which we may find in the more carefully made instruments of this class in Java and Siam. The sticks in the instrument under consideration, which was declared to be from Soudan, are sixteen inches long, two inches wide, from one fourth to one half inch thick, and are suspended by rawhide strings from pieces attached to the cross-rail which has the tin cases inserted in it, corresponding holes in the rail and cases allowing the sound of the bars to pass to the interior of the sounders. The tapering sticks of sonorous wood are hollowed out or left solid in the back so as to vary the tone, but the series is not as well tuned as the Angola ward each end. The instrument of the Zambesi tribes is similar. The Mandingoes, and other tribes of Senegambia, know the instrument as the balofo, and with them it has the diatonic scale. It is called handja by the Fans of the Gaboon River and its vicinity. It has, with them, seven notes, and each gourd has a hole in it covered with a spider’s web, —like the holes in the Balondo drums, as we shall see. The handja is on a slight frame which is laid upon the knees, and the mallets are hard and soft; one of bare wood, the other covered so as to give a soft effect.
Before leaving the African portion of the subject it may be well to state that an instrument represented on one of the Egyptian monuments is perhaps a marimba, but it is not distinct enough to be determined with certainty.
The wood harmonicon of Guatemala and Yucatan is called by the Maya Indians malimba, a name evidently derived from the Spanish and Portuguese marimba, and suggesting that the instrument and its name are negro importations; instrument, nor do the gradations of tone run regularly from either end.
Many African travelers have referred to the marimba. That of the Balondo and Botaka tribes has a semicircular frame to which the keys and attendant calabashes are fastened. The keys are sixteen in number, larger at the midlength of the frame and diminishing tothe change of an “ r ” to an I ” being very common in the domestication of foreign names in some languages. The Yucatan malimba observed by the writer has twenty-three wooden plates in a regular series and is tuned to the diatonic scale. The bars rest on rushes on a rail, and they are preserved in their places by cords which are strung through them; they are beaten with mallets having gum knobs to mellow the sound. The instrument is mounted on four legs, which raise it sufficiently for the player to kneel before it or to sit on a low stool. It is one instrument of the sarabanda (band) of the Tactic Indians of Yucatan, the others consisting of drums — their snakeskin heads possessing the genuine negro flavor — and guitars with five strings and six frets, an undoubted modification of the Spanish instrument.
Some have regarded the possession of the wood harmonieon by the Indians of Yucatan and the Malays as another proof of the prehistoric settlement of America from Asia, but the other supposition is much the more likely one, that the instrument or at least the knowledge of it was brought to America with the negro in the Spanish slavers. We know of the importation of Africans; the Asiatic migration we can but hesitatingly assume.
It should be mentioned that beneath each bar in the Yucatanese instrument is a gourd of much greater length than thickness, the range being from two inches long under the bar of highest note to eighteen inches long under that of the gravest note. The instrument does not appear to have exactly the diatonic or pentatonic scale, but to lack the seventh note of the former.
Another instrument, also known as the marimba in the Portuguese possessions in Africa, has a row or rows of steel tongues, and is of entirely different character from the wood harmonicon. Its alliances are rather with the Jew’s-harp and the music it greatly, preferring the clashing to the softer and more subdued style of music, their taste running to metallic instruments rather than to those of wood . We therefore find but little notice of it in Chinese annals or museums, while it, is a great favorite in Malaysia, where it lias attained its best form, having many modifications of material and of size. The Chinese instrument has the notes of the pentatonic scale, lacking the fourth and seventh, — the two semitones of our diatonic scale. A musical authority has remarked, however, that in some instruments there are two minor thirds which in our diatonic scale do not occur, from the third to the fifth, and from the sixth to the seventh, in this respect resembox. It will be figured and shown along with stringed instruments, the members of its class not being sufficiently numerous to form a group by themselves. It is known from Congo to Natal; the Kafirs call it sansa, and it has been carried to Brazil in the slave ships, where it is yet used by the negro population. This fact adds importance to the former suggestion of the Guatemala marimba having a negro origin.
The Chinese, Siamese, and Javanese instruments of this class are the best. The Chinese wood harmonicon is known to them under the name of fang-hiang, and one form of it has sixteen wooden slabs of an oblong shape suspended in a frame, with a trough - shaped sounding box beneath, in the manner of the Siamese and Javanese instruments to be shown and described hereafter. The Chinese, however, do not seem to prize bling one scale of the Inca and Aztec music. As none of the ancient nations seem to have written their music, it is all the greater pleasure to the competent musician to learn from such an instrument as the reed syrinx (huayra puhura) of the ancient Peruvians, that, the Incas used the pentatonic scale, though, as another instrument indicates, not exclusively.
Passing to Siam, we find the wood harmonicon agreeing with the Chinese in respect of its being a structure with a trough-shaped body and a foot Two such were shown at the Centennial Exhibition in the navy department of the Government Building. The one known locally as the ra-naht-ake is shown at Figure 10. It has twenty-two wooden keyson two catenary twisted cords. The bars on the left are shorter, narrower, and thinner than the basser bars on the right. The difference in the thickness of the bars at their ends is not apparent, but the high-note bars, are thick in the middle and vibrate more quickly than the low-note bars which are thin in the middle. The instrument is about four
feet long. The other instrument in the same collection differs from the former principally in the finish and some variation in shape. The wooden bars are made from the eashoo-nut-tree, and vary in size from 6X1 to 14X2 inches. Batons are used in each hand, the knob ends usually being of pith, or else covered with an elastic gum, such as caoutchouc or gutta-percha.
Coming now to Java, we find the instrument in either its crude or finished forms. It is known in Java and Borneo as the gambang. In the Sunda districts of Java, and elsewhere in the archipelago, it is made of bamboos of different lengths, bound together with iron wires, or supported on strings.
The term gambang is generic in Java, being applied to instruments with either wooden or metallic bars, of which a number are made, varying in size, compass, and range of notes. The gambang kayu is die instrument with wooden plates. The compass is two octaves and a major third, the intermediate sounds from the lowest being a second, third, fifth, and sixth. In other words, it is the pentatonic scale, lacking the fourth and seventh of the diatonic. The gambang gangsa has metallic bars, and several other similar instruments have specific names and a smaller compass, with from five to seven keys, so to call them. The gender has thin metallic bars, but a different form. They are very elaborately mounted on stools, tables, or cases; and no one who has seen the cabinet work of the Siamese can doubt their power of elaborate ornamentation.
The gambang is the principal instrument in the Javanese gamelan (band). Different gamelans have a greater number or variety of instruments, or some peculiar instrument not present in other gamelans, and each band has a name indicative of its peculiar group of instruments.
The most perfect is the gamelan salindr o, which has six kinds of harinonicons, wood and metal, live gongs in different arrangements, a double pair of cymbals, two drums, a flute, a harp, and a twostringed fiddle (rebab), the latter of which is used by the leader of the band; we shall have occasion to speak of it in a future article. The word is Persian, and the instrument is very widely distributed.
Other gamelans have louder instruments, are used in processions, or are the special appanage of royalty, or of the priesthood for the temple service.
The musical bars are struck with mallets padded either with cloth or elastic gum.
When the pieces of metal assume a rounded shape they may be considered as gongs. Such an instrument (k’âungwong), with tuned gongs in an oval arrangement around the performer, was shown in the Siamese exhibit, and will be described farther on.
The sonorous quality of some kinds of stones must have attracted attention even in primitive times, and among the earliest notices of Chinese art we find the mention of the use of such, as rhythmical instruments. Such a stone is there known as tse-king, and ten sonorous drum-shaped stones are yet shown in the out-buildings of an ancient temple near Pekin, and are asserted to have been hewn three thousand years ago. Many stones have this ringing quality, some in eminent degree. Glass and well-burnt pottery, especially the superior kind known as porcelain, have remarkable sharpness and sweetness of tone. Terra cotta of fine quality, indeed, has entered into the musical lists in more ways than one, as a series of bars mounted on a frame like the marimba or gambang, as the sounding chamber of drums or guitars, as bells, flutes, pandean pipes, and otherwise.
It was the stone harmonicon made of slabs of sonorous stone and known as the king which so enraptured the great Chinese philosopher Kung-fu-tse, who lived about 500 B. C. The Chinese claim to have possessed this instrument at a period two thousand years before the Christian era. The most famous stone for this purpose, known as yu, is found in certain mountainous portions of the country, and is believed to be a species of agate. It is very hard, heavy, and sonorous, and is of different colors. The king is regarded as a sacred instrument, and in more modern times the stones have been fashioned into various shapes and suspended in rows. Whether laid upon cords, bamboos, or cylindrical bunches of straw, or, as in the pien-king, suspended by a cord from a horizontal bar, the different stones forming the instrument are of such graduated sizes as, when struck, to emit tones according to a musical scale. While the quality will depend upon the character of the stone, the pitch will be determined by its size. The Chinese pien-king is said to be tuned to the intervals called lu, of which there are twelve in the compass of an octave. Other instruments of the same class have the same intervals, but they vary in pitch ; the soung-king, for instance, is four intervals lower than the pien-king.
Asia is not alone, however, in the fancy for sonorous stones. One is preserved in Cuzco, in Peru: a green slab, one and a half feet long, an inch and a half wide, pointed at the ends, arched and sharpened at the back. It is suspended by a string and struck by a mallet, giving a sweet, musical sound. Humboldt mentions the metallic sound of the Amazon stone, which is cut into a thin plate, perforated in the centre, hung by a string, and gives a clear, ringing sound when struck.
It is within the recollection of the writer that about thirty years ago, in Europe, a stone harmonicon with large and smaller slabs of what seemed to be a sort of schistose stone was exhibited and played to public audiences from place to place. It was bulky, clumsy, and crude, but the sweetness of tone was undeniable.
The change from stone to metal, assuming the lithie to have preceded the metallic, was made very early in China. Whether flat plates preceded the true bell is perhaps not material, but is quite probable. Specimens in the collection of Colonel Lane Fox in England, showing the steps in the invention of the bell, would indicate that the flat plate was bent over like the two parts of a bivalve; and that it gradually assumed the conical, dome-shaped, and other forms. The ancient Chinese bell is quadrangular, a sort of flattened, elevated pyramid, and is struck with a mallet on the outside, and not with a clapper within. The Chinese word for bell is tchung, and the instrument with a number of bells tuned to a regular succession of intervals is called pien-tchung, the musical scale of which is the same as the pien-king of sonorous stones.
The hiuen-tchung was an ancient oval bell with a crescent-shaped mouth, and was also struck with a mallet from without. It is included in the traditional antique instruments of the time of Kungfu-tse, and became popular B. C. 200200 A. D. the period of the Han dynasty.
We have about finished with this branch of our subject and may now pass to the jingling and clashing family, the cymbal, castanet, triangle, gong, and bell ; but before closing with the wood or stone harmonicon, it may be well to state that the instrument, although now occasionally heard in Europe, was better known there two centuries ago. Its European name was regal or rigols, and it consisted of several sticks strung together and only separated by beads. An authority of the day states that “it makes a tolerable harmony, being well struck with a ball at the end of a stick.” Under the name of Xylophone it has been again introduced, and many of us have heard it played as a curiosity in concert halls. The little dulcimer with slips of glass on tapes, and beaten with mallets having cork heads, is familiar to all as a child’s toy, and does not differ in principle from the instruments we have been describing.
Edward H. Knight.