Name: Malunga.
Type: Chordophones > Bows > Idiochords > Percussive.
Hornbostel Sachs No#: 311.121.21
Country: India.
Region: South Asia.

Description: The Malunga is a single stringed musical bow that is played by the Siddi people of India. The Siddi people are the descendants of East African immigrants. This instrument produces two tones an octave apart.

Playing Techniques: This instrument produces two tones an octave apart. The knuckle of the hand supporting the instrument an also maybe pressed against the string to vary the pitch. Similar to the berimbau of Brazil it is struck with a stick and held in a similar manner during playing. A rattle called the Mai Misra is placed along the string it also varies the pitch. Although it is becoming scarce the malunga one that can still be encountered in Siddi music.

Construction: The malunga is constructed from a single solid core bamboo and the string is made of three twisted strands of gut. The gourd resonator is made from a coconut shell and is a mobile part of the instrument. The gourd resonator amplifies the instrument when it is played.

Citations: Bibliography: Projeto Sidi Malunga ISBN 1-880519-28-3 ; Websites:


Name: Berimbau.
Type: Chordophones > Bows > Idiochords > Percussive.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 311.121.21
Country: Brazil.
Region: South America.

Description: The berimbau [Portuguese pronunciation in IPA: beɾĩˈbaw] is a single-string percussion instrument. A musical bow from Brazil. Originally from Africa where it receives different names. The berimbau was eventually incorporated into the practice of the Afro-Brazilian martial art capoeira. The berimbau “the soul of capoeira” leads the capoeiristas movement in the roda.

The faster the berimbau is playing the faster the capoeirista moves in the game. The instrument is known for being the subject matter of a popular song by Brazilian guitarist Baden Powell, with lyrics by Vinicius de Moraes. The instrument is also a part of Candomblé-de-caboclo tradition.

History: The origins of the berimbau have yet been fully researched. Though the consensus of its origins point to Africa as there are no known musical bows played among the Indigenous, Brazilians and Europeans. By the twentieth century, the instrument was with the jogo de capoeira [game of capoeira] which had come to be known as the berimbau, a Portuguese misnomer. The Portuguese used this word for their musical instrument the guimbarde also known as a jaw-harp.

As the jaw-harp and hungu shared some similarities where the latter was held in the mouth, akin to how the African lamellophone came to be known in English as the “hand piano” or “thumb piano.” The smaller type of the African bow in which the performer’s mouth is used as a resonator was called the “berimbau de boca” [mouth guimbarde] whereas the gourd-resonating type became the “berimbau de barriga” [belly guimbarde].

Playing Techniques: The berimbau and the m’bulumbumba of southwest Angola are made and played are very similar, as well as the tuning and basic patterns performed on these instruments. The assimilation of this African instrument into the Brazilian capoeira is evident also in other Bantu terms used for musical bows in Brazilian Portuguese, including urucungo and madimba lungungu.

For playing the berimbau, one holds it in their left hand by wrapping the two middle fingers around the verga and the little finger under the cabaça’s string loop [the “anel”] and balancing the weight there. A small stone or coin a pedra or dobrão is held between the index and thumb of the same hand that holds the berimbau.

The cabaça is rested against the abdomen. In the left hand one holds a playing stick or baqueta or “vaqueta” usually the playing sticks are carved of wood. Although rarely made of metal and a caxixi [shaker] is held in the same hand, during performance.

One strikes the arame with the baqueta to produce the sound. The caxixi accompanies the baqueta. The dobrão is moved back and forth from the arame to change the pitch produced by the berimbau. The sound can also be altered by moving the cabaça back and forth from the abdomen, producing a wah-like sound.

Construction: The berimbau consists of a wooden bow, a verga – traditionally made from biribá wood [Rollinia deliciosa] which grows in Brazil, about 4 to 5 feet or 1.2 to 1.5 metres in length, with a steel string [in Portuguese: arame] – often pulled from the inside of an automobile tire tightly strung and secured from one end of the verga to the other.

Cabaça: it should be pointed out that the cabaca comes often a fruit of a species that is unrelated to the gourd [family Cucurbitaceae]. The gourd used in the construction of it is the fruit of an unrelated species, the tree Crescentia cujete [family Bignoniaceae] known in Brazil as calabaça, cueira and cuia or cabaceira. Traditional berimbaus or those of high quality are usually plain. Decorative berimbaus came about in lue of tourism since the 1950s.

Caxixi: A small woven rattle with filler that could be of seeds, or lead shot is filled to a small amount. When played with the berimbau the caxixi accentuates the rhythm in performance.

Arame [wire]: The main playing wire attached to the berimbau from end to end.

Pedra or Dobrão: Small stone or coin pressed against the arame to change the tone of the berimbau Baqueta: small stick struck against the arame to produce the sound Caxixí: small rattle that optionally accompanies the baqueta in the same hand ; Capoeiristas split berimbaus in three categories:

Berra-boi or Gunga: Lowest tone Médio [others say viola]: medium tone Viola [violinha if the medium tone is viola]: highest tone These categories relate to sound, not to size. The berimbau’s quality does not depend on the length of the verga or the size of the gourd, rather on the diameter and hardness of the verga’s wood and the quality of the gourd.

Verga [Bow]: The verga forms the main component of the berimbau biribá wood [Rollinia deliciosa] which grows in Brazil, about 4 to 5 feet or 1.2 to 1.5 metres in length.

Citations: Bibliography: Royal Museum for Central Africa, Belgium Retrieved 2015-04-11. Funso S. Afọlayan 2004 – Culture and Customs of South Africa. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-313-32018-7 ; Obi, T. J. Desch 2008 – Fighting for Honor: The History of African Martial Art Traditions in the Atlantic World – Columbia, South Carolina, USA: University of South Carolina Press. p. 184. ISBN 9781570037184 ; O Estado de S. Paulo, 6–12 April 2011 Suplemento Agrícola, page 2 ; Houaiss Dictionary ;


Name: Kawayawaya.
Type: Chordophones > Bow > Idiochords > Percussive > Scraped.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 311.121.21
Country: South Eastern Angola.
Region: Africa.

Description: The kawayawaya is a scraped unbraced mouth bow of the Mbwela and neighbouring peoples of South Eastern Angola. It is similar to the Xizambi of the Tsonga, but it is sounded with a plain stick not with the use of a rattle across the notches in the stave.

Citations: Bibliography: Gerhard Kubik; Musica traditional e acultrada dos! Kung de Angola [Lisbon, 1970, 33 pll, 14/15 ; Stanley Sadie ~ New Grove Dictionary of Music, Book G to O page 366 ;

Villa Paatu

Name: Villu Paatu.
Type: Chordophones > Bows > Idiochords > Percussive.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 311.121.21
Country: India.
Region: South Asia.

Description: Villu Paatu [in Tamil: வில்லுப்பாட்டு and English: Bow Song] another alternative name of the villu paatu is [in Tamil: வில்லடிச்சம்பாடு Villadichampaatu], is an ancient form of musical story-telling in India where narration is interspersed with music, an art of southern state of Kerala and Thovalai in Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu.

This art form is popular among Nadar and Chettiar castes of erstwhile Travancore kingdom. Simple tunes and verses make the story to be followed easily. The villu [bow] likely having its origins from the bow as used by warriors. This paradoxically lends itself to be used as a primary musical instrument for the Villu Paatu artists.

Repertoire: Throughout Tamil villages, performers narrate stories ranging from mythological to social. The main storyteller narrates the story striking the bow. The bow rests on a clay pot kept facing downwards. A co-performer beats the pot while singing. There is usually another co-singer who acts as active listener to the narration, uttering appropriate oral responses. The local government sometime utilize this as a vehicle for social messages and propaganda.

When the villu paatu is being played, in accompaniment with Udukku [In Tamil: உடுக்கை], Kudam [In Tamil: குடம்], Thala, Kattai [In Tamil: கட்டை], which are used as supplementary instruments in performances. Udukku is a small drum with a slender middle portion which is held in the left hand and played by the fingers of the right hand. Occasionally, the Villu Pattu team divides itself into two groups, each trying to prove opposite points-of-view of a subject.

This is called Lavani Pattu. The songs used by the Villu Pattu artists are mostly traditional folk-songs. They are played during occasions of temple festivals in villages. The songs sung mostly in Villu Paatu praise a god or tell a story. These days the number of artists performing Villu Paatu is tremendously reduced as the income earned from it is never enough for running one’s life.


Citations: Bibliography: Websites


Name: Onavillu.
Type: Chordophones > Bows > Idiochords > Percussive.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 311.121.21
Country: India.
Region: South Asia.

Description: The Onavillu is a simple, short, bow-shaped musical instrument. Its name may come from Onam, a festival in Kerala where the instrument is used in dances, and villu, which means ‘bow’ in Malayalam and several other South Indian languages. Although still regularly used in rural art forms, use of the onavillu is on the decline.

The ceremonial onavillu, which is not a musical instrument, is made from a flat piece of wood 1.27 cm or 1/2 inch thick, tapering on both sides. Sizes may range from 106.6 cm / 3.5 feet in length by 10.16 cm / 4 inches in width; 137.1 cm by 4.5 feet. The wood of kadambu, maruthu, jack fruit tree and aanjili trees are preferred [See List of Indian timber trees].

The wood is cut to the required dimension before being decorated with miniature paintings of Anantha Sayanam [reclining pose of Lord Vishnu] and avatars Dasavatharam, Shri Rama Pattabhishekam and Shri Krishna Leela. Ashari family residing near Pujapura Trivandrum are the right to make the red tassels used to adorn the bows; The making of the ceremonial bows is the preserve of a local family.

Ceremonial Usage: On Thiruvonam day, the birthday of Lord Maha Vishnu, large number of devotees visit the Sri Padmanabha Swamy temple in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India to take part in the onavillu charthal, the dedication ceremony of the colourful bows. The temple is one of the 108 sacred temples dedicated to Lord Mahavishnu.

The bows are first offered to the family deity at the Vilayil Veedu, Karamana for three days. They are then taken to Sri Padmanabha Swamy temple on Thiru Onam day and displayed at the Natakasala before being offered to the deity.

The Anantha Sayanam version of the villu is consecrated to Lord Padmanabha [Vishnu]; the one with the Dasavathram painting is offered to Lord Narasimha; the one showing the Krishna-leela is dedicated to Lord Krishna; the one with the painting of Shri Rama Pattabhishekam is consecrated to the idol of Shri Rama. The onavillu are removed on the third day. The Temple Trust distributes the onavillu to devotees, who consider them a symbol of prosperity.

Citations: Bibliography: Websites: YouTube Video / Onavillu Family In Malappuram


Name: Rajao.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.322.5
Courses: Four / Five Strings.
Country: Madeira Portugal.
Region: Iberian Peninsula > Western Europe.

Description: The rajão [in Portuguese: machete de rajão] is a 5-stringed instrument from Madeira, Portugal. The instrument traces back to the country’s regional folk music, where it is used in folklore dances of Portugal in addition to other stringed instruments from the same region.

History: There is little information of the origins of the rajão, but it is often associated with traditional folklore dance of Madeira and the origins of the ukulele of Hawaii. In 1879 Portuguese immigrants who also owned business in musical instruments brought the rajão, viola and raga to Hawaii. Where the rajao was given the nickname “tarro patch fiddle”.

Tuning: The instrument is about 70 cm about 2 feet and 3 inches in length. The rajão is tuned to D4 / G4 / C4 / E4 / A4, a re-entrant tuning with the third string the lowest pitch. When it has 6 strings, the tuning becomes D4 / G4 / C4 / E4 / A4 / A4. The rajão also comes with all five courses doubled, though these are less common.

Rajao Tunings
Names Tunings
Five String D G C E A
Six String D G C E A A

Citations: Bibliography: Websites:


Name: Timple.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.322.5
Tuning: G C E A D
Courses: Four / Five Strings.
Country: Canary Islands.
Region: West Africa & Atlantic Ocean.

Description: The timple is a five-stringed lute of the Canary Islands. In La Palma island and in the north of the island of Tenerife, many timple players omit the fifth [D] string. Prior to the addition of the D string the Timple had only four strings. There is a debate among musicians as to the use of the D or the omission of the D string.

Advocates state they are playing timple in the old-fashioned way. The fifth string being introduced during the 19th or early 20th century. Timple players [timplistas] of note are Benito Cabrera from Lanzarote, José Antonio Ramos, Totoyo Millares, and Germán López from Gran Canaria and Pedro Izquierdo from Tenerife.

Tuning: The G / C / E / A / D tuning as used on the timple is very similar to the charango tuning the use of the tuning although the fifth string was added in the 19th to 20th century. The tuning G / C / E / A / E can be attested, on instruments such as the charango date much earlier. There is no direct contact between the two tunings despite them being similar at least by a difference from a single note on the bottom string.



Name: Cavaquinho.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.322.5
Courses: Four Strings.
Country: Portugal & Many.
Region: Iberian Peninsula, Western Europe, Africa & South & America.

Description: The cavaquinho [pronounced as: kɐvɐˈkiɲu] in Portuguese] is a small Portuguese string instrument in the European guitar family, with four wire or nylon strings. It is found in Portugal and its respective territories and former colonies namely Brazil, Angola, Mozambique and Madeira, Azores and Capo Verde. More broadly, cavaquinho is the name of a four-stringed subdivision of the lute family of instruments. A cavaquinho player is called a cavaquista.

The Cavaquinho is featured throughout many different genres of music as a lead instrument of ensembles or bands owing to its small size and portability. It can be used as a soloists instrument but typically accompanied by others such as a guitar and electric bass. The

Etymology: The word “cavaquinho” alone usually refers to the Portuguese cavaquinho. The instrument’s name cavaquinho means “little wood splinter” in Portuguese.

Cavaquinho Tunings
Name Nomenclature Tuning *
C 6 C G A D Portugal
Ancient Tuning D A B E by Júlio Pereira [B].
G 6 D G B E Brazil
Cuk G G B D Indonesia
Mandolin G D A E Brazil
Ukulele G C E A

Varieties: There are several forms of cavaquinho used in different regions and for different styles of music. Separate varieties are named for Portugal, Braga [braguinha] Minho [minhoto], Lisbon, Madeira, Brazil and Cape-Verde. Other forms are the braguinha, ‘cavacolele’, cavaco, machete and ukulele. The Venezuelan concert cuatro is very nearly the same instrument, but somewhat larger.

a.] The Brazilian cavaquinho is slightly larger than the Portuguese cavaquinho, resembling a small classical guitar. Its neck is raised above the level of the sound box, and the sound hole is usually round, like cavaquinhos from Lisbon and Madeira.

b.] The Venezuelan concert cuatro is very nearly the same size and shape, but has its neck laid level with the sound box, like the Portuguese cavaquinho.

c.] The cavaco is a smaller version of the Brazilian cavaquinho, similar in size to the Portuguese cavaquinho. The cavaco is the lead instrument of the samba ensemble. The name cavaco means “wood splinter” in Portuguese – probably back-formed from the original name cavaquinho [“little wood splinter”].

d.] The cavaco is found in Indonesia since the introduction of the ukulele in the form of cavaco was changed the first instrument having only thee strings plays the first downward beat. In a Keronchong ensemble the cak [three stringed] and suk [four stringed] are two lead instruments. The two instruments played together provide a rhythmical accent when performing the melody.

e] The ukulele as found in Hawaii and the South Pacific was introduced by Portuguese settlers when they arrived to Hawaii. The tuning we use and associate the ukulele with, has its origins in the baroque guitar tradition, called “Temple Nuevo” or “New Tuning”.



Name: Charango.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes > Guitars > Guitarillos.
Hornbostel & Sachs No#: 321.322.5
Specimens: 3 in collection.
Country: Bolivia, Peru, N. Chile, N. W. Argentina & Ecuador.
Region: South America.

Description: The charango is a 10-stringed 5 course lute whose some strings may very up to 14 strings 8 courses. Having a small body and short neck. It is a lead instrument in ensembles from both Bolivia, Peru, North Western Argentina and Northern Chile.

History: The charango was conceived by Indigenous peoples during the first contacts when they were forbidden by the conquistadors to play their own traditional instruments. It has been suggested the charango was the a creation of the first successful attempt at building a small enough lute that could be concealed under the poncho.

Origins: The Bolivian charanguista, composer and musician Ernesto Cavour presents evidence from murals and sculptures in Bolivia from as long ago as 1744. Citing an example being the Church of San Lorenzo in the city of Potosi. The facade of the church depicts two mermaids playing what he believes to be a charango.

The first published historic information on the charango may be that gathered by Vega, going back to 1814, when a cleric from Tupiza documented that “the Indigenous used with much enthusiasm the guitarillos mui fuis… around here in the Andes of Bolivia they called them Charangos”.

Turino mentions that he found carved sirens representing playing charangos in some Colonial churches in the highlands of Bolivia. One of the churches to which Turino refers may well be that mentioned by Cavour. The construction on the San Lorenzo edifice began in 1547 and wasn’t completed until 1744.

Charango Tunings
Name Nomenclature Tuning
Am7 C G E A E
AmBb7 B F Eb Ab Eb
Balitzar, Peru A Major G C# E A E
E Minor C G E G E
2nd Kimsa E G# E A E
Runa G D E A E
Jalq’a F# A C# B E
Easter F# B E A E
False E G C A E
Sucre Noº2 A D G C E
Tuning Noº4 G A C# A E
Small & Large D G E A E
Small Noº2 A D F# B F#
Small Noº3 C F A D A
En Fa / In F G C F A F

The cuatro tunings aka. the four tunings is a tuning for the charango devised by Victor Mena.

Distribution: Although is a provenance for the the origins of the charango to point to what is today Potosi, Bolivia. This region was once apart of the Royal Audiencia of Charkas which included its neighbours, Peru, North Western Argentina and Northern Chile. Several varieties of the charango exist from region to region.

Varieties: There are several varieties of charango that exist in Bolivia and it’s neighbours. Including the Charango De Caja having 6 paired courses of double strings. The arrangement of the strings of the charango de caja is no different than the 12 string guitar. Accept the charango de caja is tuned three octaves above the guitar.

Charango De Caja Tunings
Names Tunings
Standard E A D G B E
Comuncha G B D G B E
Diablo G Bb D G C E
Arpa F# A D F# B E

Construction: The charango was originally built with the use of armadillo shells from the 9 banded Armadillo. A neck and head stock were added during the assembly process. The body of this particular type of charango was boiled to remove the remaining hair and while still warm.

The body is then moulded into shape by a mallet around a wooden mould. Today it is common place to find the charango whose body and neck are carved from the same piece of wood [as featured on my Bolivian made charango for example].

The bracing, perfloring and sound board are glued into place than the basic shape of the instrument forming its over all profile. Once the basic body-shape is established, the fingerboard and frets are then installed. Machine gears are installed to the left and right sides of the head stock.

The typical amount of strings usually nylon are added on the charango near the last phase of the build. The result is a portable instrument with a small vaulted-backed instrument that can produce quite a tonal projection despite its size.

Citations: Biography: Ernesto Cavour, Turino, Stanley Sadie – New Grove Dictionary Of Music @ Vol  1, Book A to C, Page ; Garland Encyclopedia of World Music, South America ; [now archived by the waybackmachine]


Name: Chillador.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes > Guitars > Guitarillos > Charango.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.322.6
Tuning: G C E A E
Country: Many, Peru, Bolivia.
Region: South America.

Description: A flat backed guitar like lute in the same size, size and scale length of the charango. The chillador has 10, 12 or up to 14 strings in total. Each string course is doubled or paired.  The chillador shares the same tuning and can use the same alternate tunings as charango.



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