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Instrument Description

Instrument Description

Names and descriptions of musical instruments featured in recordings listed from oldest to most recent.

Ireland and Britain

1. Wicklow pipes, 4,150 years old.  Set of six hand carved cylindrical pipes made from yew wood, ranging in length from 30cm to 60cm and 2cm in diameter.  Resembling a set of large pan pipes it is believed they are a musically related number of harmonic flutes similar to individuals that still occur in Scandinavia.  

2. Dord íseal (DOORD EESHAL), 2,800 years old.  Large bass cast bronze horn made in three pieces which fit together, originally from the South and West of Ireland.  Length 150cm, mouthpiece 2cm open.

3. Dord ard (DOORD AARD), 3,000 years old. Medium range cast bronze horn mainly from central and Northern Ireland.  Length, 75cm, mouthpiece 1.5cm open.

4. Sussex horn, 2,700 years old.  Our reproduction is fashioned from an accurate drawing which was made of an original found at Battle in Sussex, England in the late 18th Century AD. While the horn is since missing, the drawing closely resembles the Dord Ard.  Length 75cm, mouthpiece 1.5cm.  Note:  Battle is the site where the famous battle of Sussex took place in 1066AD.  Perhaps the horn had been recovered and then played on the day!

5.  Adharc A (AYARK), 2,800 years old.  This unusual cast bronze horn had the mouthpiece set into the side.  Conical with a large knop at the closed end.  60cm long, mouthpiece 3cm x 2cm open.

North Germany and Scandinavia

6.  Lur, 3,000 years old.  Curved cast bronze horn in two parts.  Decorated circular plate at the end of bell.  Average length 150cm, choke mouthpiece. (Trumpet).

7.  Ard Brinn trumpet (trumpa fada).  Reproduction of original Ard Brinn trumpet. This horn is in good condition and has been recorded on one occasion by Ancient Music Ireland. .  Length 220cm.  Mouthpiece 1.5cm open.

8. Loughnashade Trumpet (trumpa créda) (TRUMPA CRAYA), 2,100 years old.  This reproduction is of a famous original (Loughnashade trumpet) on display in The National Museum of Ireland.  Made of sheet bronze in two parts which fit together into a centre knop join with a distinctive decorated circular plate at the bell end.  Length 200cm, mouthpiece 2cm open.

9. Psalter horn, 1,300 years old.  Made of yew wood and banded with strips of sheet bronze, some decorated.  So called because two examples are shown being played in an 8th Century AD illumination from a book of Psalms called The Canterbury Psalter.  See books  'Ancient Music of Ireland by Simon O'Dwyer or Scotland's Music by John Purser.  Length 50cm, conical overall, mouthpiece 1.5cm open.  The original is on display in the Enniskillen Museum, Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland.

10. Mayophone, 1,300 years old.  Named after County Mayo in Ireland where the original instrument was recovered from a bog in 1792.  Made of yew wood with a sheet bronze ribbon spiralling down its length.  A beating reed (bassoon) is fitted at the top to play notes.  Overall length 196cm.  No finger holes.

11.  Didgeridoo (YIDAKI)  A number of didgeridoos are played in these recordings.  The oldest made of bloodwood (now an extinct tree species) belonged to Alan Dargin and examples from Catherine, Arnhem Land and Cape York are played by Phillip Conyngham.  The first didgeridoo in Ireland was made in 1982.  Known by Aboriginal players as a 'split didj' which refers to the way it was fabricated in two parts which were then glued together.  Designed and carved by Simon O'Dwyer.

12. Bodhrán (BOWRAWN).  Irish single skin frame drum.  Average 50cm diameter - played sideways with a swinging two ended stick or with the centre finger of the back of the hand.

13.  Tubby drum, (Irish slit drum).  Moulded plastic body with wooden front or skin.  The skin has a continuous waving line cut through it to allow for different tones to be played by striking certain areas of the wood.  130cm diameter.  Held sideways and played in a swinging motion with a two ends of a stick. (similar to bodhrán playing technique).  The tubby drum was invented in 1990 by Brian Howard.

14.  Clap sticks and boomerang sticks.  Two solid hard wooden sticks, average 25cm lengths or in the shape of boomerangs.  One is struck on the other to produce a steady beat or sometimes fast rattling.  These are traditional Aboriginal Australian instruments. 

Naturally occurring musical instruments

15.  Animal horns:  Cow, goat, ram, buffalo horns with the mouthpiece at the end or cut into the side.  The tuning and tone of the instrument is dependent on the length and width of the original horn - Universal.

16.  Shells: Small, medium and large sea snail shells.  (Triton conch). The mouthpiece may be at the pointed end or inserted in the side of one of the spirals.  Sounds range from a high note (small shell) to a deep booming tone (large shell).

17. Sea stones (flute stones):  In certain places small stones may be found on the sea shore with deep narrow holes drilled into them by shellfish.  Sometimes these may be interconnected inside.  While rare and hard to find, a good example may allow for several notes to be played by blowing across one hole whilst opening and closing the others with the fingers.

18.  Trumpet stone:  Made from flint, length 12cm.  Mouthpiece diameter 1cm.  This remarkable naturally occurring flint stone tube from an island in the Baltic Sea produces an evocative wailing sound when played as a trumpet.

19. Click stones: Made of sea rounded green hard volcanic stone.  Any pair of small stones may be struck together repeatedly to form rhythm.  The pair featured in these recordings appear to be from the same volcanic source yet one was found at the most Westerly point of Europe or the 'Old World' (Valentia Island, Co. Kerry), while the other came off the beach in the most Easterly side of North America or the 'New World' (St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada).  It is possible that they were once a part of the same rock.  Bringing the old and new Worlds together again.

20.  Crotal: 3,000 years old.  Hand held cast bronze bell - approximately the size and shape of a pear.  Hollow with a pebble inside which moves freely thus creating swinging rhythmic ringing as it rolls around inside.


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