The Oxford Companion to Musical Instruments
Book format: An electronic version of a printed book that can be read on a computer or handheld device designed specifically for this purpose.
Publisher: Date:11/11/1992 - Oxford University Press
By: Anthony C. Baines
From panpipes, to the agogo bell, to the tuba, musical instruments have formed an integral part of the cultures of the world. Their range and diversity--including the simplest of spoons as well as the complex pressure systems of a pipe organ--have inspired the skill and genius of maker, composer, and player. Now, in The Oxford Companion to Musical Instruments, Anthony C. Baines provides a comprehensive guide to the astonishing variety of Western and non-Western musical instruments. Each entry in this lavishly illustrated book offers a concise description of the instrument, as well as a wealth of information on such subjects as playing techniques, harmonics and circular breathing, the sound of an instrument, acoustics, pitch, an instrument's use within the orchestral repertoire or, for ethnomusicological instruments, within ritual, and significant developments in its history. Baines covers a vast array of instruments, from the common cowbell, to the Red-hot fountain pen (a novelty instrument of the 1930s), to the Celtic harp. For instance, he discusses how the bladder pipe (a relative of the bagpipe) uses a pig's bladder, and tells how it is deodorized (with ammonia) and kept pliable (with brine). And in his entry on Antonio Stradivari's violins, he attributes the success of these prized instruments, not to age, or to choice of materials, but to good fortune. (Stradivari arched the body of his violins less than was common at the time, and when he later altered their necks, the Strads luckily responded well to the change.) Baines also includes general articles on the instruments of specific periods, such as the Renaissance or Baroque, as well as the instruments of individual continents. We learn, for example, that the countries from Burma through Thailand, Kampuchea, and Vietnam, to the Philippines, North Borneo, and Indonesia, are grouped musically as gong-chime cultures from the variety of gongs and gong chimes used over most of the area. And we even find separate entries on fakes and forgeries, walking stick instruments, and scrapers such as the domestic washboard. With numerous illustrations, musical examples, an appendix of makers mentioned within the text, and full bibliographical details, The Oxford Companion to Musical Instruments is an invaluable source on the splendid variety of musical instruments, based on a lifetime of scholarship.