slit drum

slit drum

      percussion instrument formed by hollowing a tree trunk through a lengthwise slit and sounded by the players' stamping feet or by beating with sticks; the edges of the slit are usually of different thicknesses, so as to produce different pitches. Unlike membrane drums, which are classified as membranophones, slit drums are idiophones, or resonant solids.

      Slit drums are found in Asia, the Americas, Africa, and Oceania. They vary in size from huge tree trunks (20 feet [6 m] or more in length and 7 feet [2.1 m] or more in width) enclosed in huts and played by several men to small bamboo instruments used in Malaysia by watchmen. Large slit drums are sometimes less precisely called slit gongs.

      Slit drums are frequently ritual instruments that are regarded as possessing magical attributes and are often associated with water and with death and resurrection. Because of their great carrying power and resonance, they are often also used as signaling instruments, in some places transmitting messages by reproducing the inflections of human speech. Frequently, slit drums are carved as elaborately stylized animals. Among the Aztecs (as the teponaztli) and earlier Mesoamerican peoples, the slit drum was hollowed through an H-shaped slit, the two tongues of which produced different pitches; several instruments are believed to have been combined in order to play melodies.

      Two smaller, Chinese offshoots of the slit drum are the wood block and the wooden fish (Chinese mu yü; also known as temple block), carved in the shape of a mythical fish and lacquered red. Both were used in religious ritual, and the former was also in Chinese opera orchestras. Producing a clear, penetrating sound, they were adopted into the Western orchestra in the 20th century.

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Universalium. 2010.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • slit-drum — /slit drum /, n. a hollowed out log with a long, narrow slit, beaten with a stick or stamped upon to produce a drumming sound, found in many cultures since ancient times. Also, slit drum. [1955 60] * * * …   Universalium

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  • slit-drum — ˈ ̷ ̷ˌ ̷ ̷ noun : a primitive drum originally consisting of a tree trunk hollowed out like a boat and played by stamping * * * /slit drum /, n. a hollowed out log with a long, narrow slit, beaten with a stick or stamped upon to produce a drumming …   Useful english dictionary

  • slit drum — /ˈslɪt drʌm/ (say slit drum) noun a percussion instrument comprising a piece of bamboo or wood into which one or more slits have been carved, causing it to produce a resonant sound when struck with a stick or stamped on …  

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  • Drum (communication) — For other kinds of drums, see drum (disambiguation). Developed from hollow tree trunks, and used by cultures living in deforested areas, drums served as an early form of long distance communication, and were used during ceremonial and religious… …   Wikipedia

  • Tank drum — A tank drum or hank drum is a round steel slit/tongue drum originally fashioned from a propane tank. Contents 1 Description 2 History 3 References 4 External links …   Wikipedia

  • HAPI drum — imagestack HAPI Drum (Hand Activated Percussion Instrument) is one brand of a commercially produced melodic percussion instrument closely related to the centuries old African log slit drum. It uses metal tongues, rather than wood as in the log… …   Wikipedia

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