Bamboo plants are one of the world’s most versatile resources. Bamboo, because of its strength and flexibility, has been used for hundreds of years as a major building material in countries like Japan and China. But aside from furniture building and architecture, bamboo plants are also used for a wide array of purposes. One of the most interesting areas where bamboo is used is in the creation of instruments. Because bamboo is hallow, it makes for a natural wind instrument, and cultures from all over the world have used it to their musical advantage. Here are some of the most unique bamboo instruments in the world.
The valiha is a type of zither made with a long, bamboo tube. It’s an instrument native to Madagascar and it is played traditionally by plucking the strings. Originally these were made with strands of bamboo skin, but today they are usually made from bicycle brake cables. The cables are usually taken apart into individual strands and the strands are then used as strings.
Jegog instruments are made with treated shoots from the bamboo plant. The tradition of jegog music comes from the region of Western Bali in Indonesia. The instruments have a four note scale and most have eight bamboo keys, with certain instrument having two keys per pitch, slightly detuned.
The first ever take marimba was constructed by musician and instrument maker Makoto Yabuki in 1980. It is a multi-layered marimba with bamboo keys. It produces a beautiful, lingering sound and has typically a range of 4 octaves.
The pinjakan is native to Bali, and it is a kind of musical windmill decorated with some kind of doll or figurine. It works in such a way that when the wind turns the windmill, the figurine moves and a beautiful sound is played. It was traditionally used in rice fields to scare off sparrows, but musicians today sometimes incorporate it into their songs.
This musical instrument is made with two bamboo tubes attached to a bamboo frame. The shoots from the bamboo plant are carved in such a way as to produce a resonant pitch when struck. The player holds the base of the instrument with one hand and shakes the instrument form side to side quickly with the other hand, which produces a single, repeating note. Each performer in an angklung ensemble will thus play only one note, and together they create a melody.
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