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The idiophone is one peculiar instrument that contributes to and connects to the art of western traditional music. Concussion stones, clappers, cymbals, and castanets are some of the mechanisms that make up the contraption. The idiophones are a substantial subset of non-sonorous strikers that range from pots, gongs, hit gourds, steel drums, kettle bells, and musical cups to basic percussion sticks and triangles (Bestle et.al 189). On the other hand, the shaken idiophones have basketry, hollow-ring rattles, and jars filled with gourds (a rattling substance). The essay is purposed to elaborate more on the history of the idiophones and its relation to the Western culture.
The idiophones became popular after the Middle Ages because of the Jew harps instruments that were used as part of the musical stock trade in the 17th century (Mark 398). When these instruments were combined in single frames, they gained a lot of popularity. The plucked idiophone was then created through the miniaturization of the musical clocks, thus providing the metal-comb mechanism. The idiophones were very popular in homesteads, espessialy when there was the repertoire of folk songs, opera arias, the waltzes and the popular tunes of the day. In the 19th century, the plucked idiophone was transformed to the free-reed aerophone through the substitution of the reeds for the metal comb (Bestle et al. 247).
During that time, several frictional idiophones were created, among them being the nail violin which had tunes that were nailed by the violin bow. The other categories of the idiophones included the comprising scrappers, the scraped idiophones, and the cog rattles. The split idiophones, on the other hand, were made of the split hollow cane that included the chopstick and the tuning fork idiophones. The plucked idiophones such as the mbira, Jew’s harp, and the music box were known as frictional idiophones because of their combined friction sticks.
The Relationship with the Western Culture
In the European antiquity, many dancers and clappers knew the idiophones, when they held pairwise in the female participation of the Dionysian rites (also known as the hands of maenads). More often, the female dancers stressed the rhythm by accompanying the old reed pipes from Greek (auloi) (Shenna et.al 749). The chorus leaders used the time-beating foot clappers attached to the legs like sandals especially when using the idiophones. The European culture also used other idiophones instruments like the cymbals, bells, the identified echeion and the chalkos (known as the bronze). The idiophones were also used to possess the evil spirit in the western Christian churches because they believed that the demons and ghosts fled because of the sound of the metals. The power of the sounds also protected the association of the divine cult mainly practiced in baptism.
The archaeological evidence of the jingle bells was that evil spirits were cast out from dying persons. Mostly, the European churches liked using the idiophones, particularly when they worshiped by sounding the bell alarms of the instruments, as well as broadcasting information concerning peace. In the secular music, the handballs were mixed with other tools to elevate the quality of music. In the traditional ceremonies of the western culture, one of the idiophone instrument called the mbira was known to communicate to the spiritual world especially when people needed to be advised. The instrument formed a compelling relationship between the facilitating and supernatural spirit possession which demonstrated the beliefs about the Balkan people during their musical functions. (Bestle et.al 278).
The fact that instruments could be indispensable and form the central part of spiritual life shows the relationship between religion and music. A common notion may be seen in the Gorkha Darba temple in Nepal where the idiophone instrument called the kettle drum was respected and sacred (Mark 412). On normal circumstances, the instrument is played by untouchable professional musicians who must purify themselves before playing. Flower and red powder offerings were then given to the festival as a symbol of winning the evil spirit. In many rituals, the instrument represented the dismembered body that existed as an old instrument. Instruments have clear insights into the music world.
Instruments play a significant role in many cultures not only as a source of music but also as ritual objects that are imbued with technological masterpieces and religious. By studying the cultural views, one often gets thoughts of how the instruments reflect the essential characteristics of the western culture through the physical features of the idiophone. In essence, the classification of instruments is a creative way of organizing and reasoning about the consistency of musical tools and the social influences of the western culture. By tapping this information, we gain the understanding of the western cultural idea regarding the contrast between the classification of the instruments and the empirical western musical culture.
Bestle, Pascal, Peter Eberhard, and Michael Hanss. “Musical instruments – Sound synthesis of virtual idiophones.” Journal of Sound and Vibration, vol. 395, 2017, pp. 187-400.
Mark, Jeffrey. “The Song-Cycle in England: Some Early 17th-Century Examples.” The Musical Times, vol. 66, no.986, 2012, pp. 325-477.
Steele, James, Marina Gkiasta, and Stephen Shennan. “The Neolithic Transition and European Population History – a Response.” Antiquity, vol. 78, no.301, 2014, pp. 711-813.
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