Tag Archives: Idiophones



Name: Pattala.
Type: Idiophones > Percussion > Xylophones.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#:
Country: Myanmar.
Region: South East Asia.

Description: The Pattala [in Burmese: ပတ္တလား in IPA: patta.la: Burmese pronunciation: [pattəlá] in Karen: paw ku[1]; in Mon: ဗာတ် ကလာ; is a Burmese xylophone, consisting of 24 bamboo bars [called ywet / ရွက် or asan အဆံ] suspended over a boat-shaped resonating chamber. It is played with two padded mallets.

The pattala is tuned similar to the diatonic scale. The earliest historical mention of the pattala is in the Kalyani Inscriptions and dates to CE 1479. The pattala is similar to other mainland Southeast Asian instruments, including the ranat ek and the Cambodian roneat ek.

A Pattala being played – Myanmar 19th Century

In pre-colonial Burma, the pattala was used in royal court music. In fact, when the piano was first introduced to the Burmese court in the late 1800s. It was tuned to the scale of the pattala.

In modern days, classical Burmese chamber music is accompanied by either the pattala or the saung gauk [the Burmese harp], both of which are capable of performing a harmonic countermelody. The pattala is also a key instrument in the Burmese ensemble orchestra, the hsaing waing. The pattala is also prominently featured in Burmese drama, anyeint.

Construction: The bamboo slats are typically made from the wood of giant bamboo [Dendrocalamus giganteus], which is durable and produces a stable sound. Slats are occasionally made from brass or iron. The mallets are made from hardwoods such as teak, padauk, black cutch, yindaik, or pyinkado. The resonance box is made from teak and decorated with inlaid glass or gold leaf.

Citations: Bibliography: Cooler, Richard M. 1995. The Karen Bronze Drums of Burma. BRILL. p. 29. ISBN 9789004099333 ; 簡約雍容狂野. 國立傳統藝術中心. 2006. pp. 112–113. ISBN 9789860059182 ; Description of the Burmese Empire. Oriental Translation Fund of Great Britain and Ireland. 1833. pp. 128 ; Parakilas, James; E. Douglas Bomberger 2002. Piano Roles: A New History of the Piano. Yale University Press. ISBN 9780300093063. Rice, Timothy 2011. Ethnomusicological Encounters with Music and Musicians. Ashgate Publishing. p. 185. ISBN 9781409434023. Brandon, James R. 2009. Theatre in Southeast Asia. Harvard University Press. p. 127. ISBN 9780674028746 ; Websites:


Name: Bhusayah.
Type: Idiophones > Percussion > Metallaphones > Cymbals.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#:
Culture: Newari.
Area: Kathmandu valley.
Country: Nepal.

Description: The bhusayah are cymbals that are played by the Newari people in Nepal. In the Kathmandu valley the term designates a category of large-bossed cymbals made in three sizes. The largest of the bhusayah is is mainly users in the instrument ensemble it is called the dhime baja.

Citations: Bibliography: S. Wiehler-Schneider and H. Wiehler: ‘A Classification of the Traditional Musical Instruments of the Nevars ; Websites: Grove Music / Bhusayah article ;


Name: Abongboya.
Type: Idiophones > Lamellophones > Combs.
Hornbostel Sachs No#: 122.1
Country: Congo DRC,
Region: Africa.

Description: The abongboya is a plucked lamellaphone of the Rubi-Haut-Uele area of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It has a box-shaped bark resonator and six to eight wooden tongues fastened to the soundboard by raffia fibre.

Citations: Bibliography: Websites:


Home: Mbira.
Gallery: Idiophones > Lamellaphones > Combs.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 122.1
Country: Zimbabwe.
Region: Africa.

Mbira, Lamellaphone, Shona, Zimbabwe @ Horniman Museum, London, UK 2019

Description: The mbira [in Shona: pronounced as; m-BEER-ra , IPA (ə)mˈbɪəɾə)]; is a plucked lamellaphone in the Idiophones family of musical instruments. Lamellaphones of this type have a wide arch in distribution from Central African Republic, Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa, Namibia. The mbira is traditional to the Shona people of Zimbabwe and furthest west from Nigeria to Sierra Leone.

Construction: It consists of body that is carved to form a box resonator fitted inside a gourd. It is fitted with keys that have been hammered and forged to form shape and achieve the desired tuning. Tines, bottle caps and other objects are attached to function as rattles or buzzers on the instrument. They also provide aesthetic and ornamentation.

Citations: Bibliography: The Soul Of Mbira by Paul F. Berliner: Music and traditions of the Shona People of Zimbabwe, with an appendix: Building and Playing A Shona Mbira ISBN: 0-520-04268-9     Berkeley 94720 ;


Name: Ata.
Type: Idiophones > Lamellophones > Heteroglot > Frames > Jawharps.
Hornbostel Sachs No#: 121.22
Region: Golden Triangle Area.
Country: Thailand.
Region: South East Asia.

Description: Ata are bamboo jawharps of the Lahu people of Southern China and northern South East Asia, in the Golden Triangle area. Ata are played in pairs. Ata are then attached to a carrying ata by way of a string.

Usage: Ata were traditionally used for courting, in two different tunings. Ata are tuned a fifth apart were used for intimate conversations between young people, and taken up after the couple used the naw or hulusheng mouth organ to get acquainted. Ata tuned a fourth apart were used by older people to rekindle the feelings of youth, and for divorced or widowed people to attract a new mate.

The higher pitched of the pair is considered the female instrument and the lower a male. Ata performed a musical code with each note corresponding to a spoken syllable. Unfortunately these practices have disappeared and now these instruments are made primarily for tourists.

Citations: Bibliography: Websites: Randy Raine-Reusch @ asza.com / Ata ;