Making Gourd Musical Instruments: Over 60 String, Wind & Percussion Instruments & How to Play Themby Ginger Summit, Jim Widess
Pluck them, bang them, shake them up, and blow into them -- these instruments from around the world produce every type of joyful noise. They range from wood temple gongs to water drums to stamping tubes, and with a variety of gourds you can have an orchestra! Best of all, there's no need for a woodworking shop or specialized equipment. Simple household tools, easy-to-find items, and even "junk" from the garage will do the trick -- but what you'll end up with aren't those toy cigar boxes with rubber bands. These instruments are the real thing. Tips on choosing your gourd, cleaning it thoroughly, sealing it, and even decorating and playing the finished instrument will assure that you're making beautiful music.
Start with basic drums: gather gourds of different sizes, turn them over, arrange them in a line to become a tuned set, and get a rhythm going. Vary the sound by holding them against your chest, or by putting metal rings on your fingers while you tap. Shake rattles that range from a Mesoamerican Indian rain stick to the popular African shekere strung with a loose-fitting net of beautifully colored beads or other hard objects. Scrape and rub: when one rough surface touches another you get the rhythms of a Caribbean guiro. The stroking of a stick against notches in the side of a hollow resonator makes the instrument's sound. How about a small piano to play with your thumb? Try the gorgeous tones of the kalimba. Tiny metal tongues on a spring produce the melody; make it big or small enough to play as you walk.
Friction drums, with a skin that vibrates, can wail or roar -- depending on how much pressure you use! A Brazilian cuica makes a series of fun-sounding squeaks and squawks, and a version from the lvory Coast is an important part of ceremonies and rituals. Plus, you can fashion a kazoo, a musical bow, an Indian sitar, harps, and more, from Central and South America and the Far East -- even the familiar banjo and guitar. In addition to learning everything from making a drumhead to tuning the instrument, you'll also delve into the history of each type of drum and see photographs of hundreds of instruments, both contemporary and ancestral -- many of them actually being played in their traditional settings.
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 8.50(w) x 9.90(h) x 0.50(d)
Meet the Author
I have always been interested in handcrafts of all types, since a young child. I drew upon this interest often in my career as a Special Education teacher. Soon after retiring in 1990, I discovered the world of gourdcraft. After a fruitless search for books on the topic, Jim Widess and I agreed that the time was right for a new book, and a whole new world opened up! Artists around the country responded with enthusiasm and creativity to our inquiries, and the resulting books reflect the tremendous potential that the gourd has provided humans since earliest times.
The great appeal of gourds to the craft world lies in their flexibility: the variety of shapes and textures of this ancient plant always suggest new possibilities to the crafter. Gourds can be embellished and adapted to work with all mediums available to artists today, and can be enjoyed for individuals with all levels of skill.
In addition to growing gourds, I have been able to explore cultures and unimagined areas of human activity, from very functional containers to highly artistic expressions of music, dance, art and culture identities. It has been a great satisfaction to participate in the great gourd world, passing on a traditiion that has been such an important part of human history.
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