Playing River Rocks As An Instrument – Hawaiian `ili`ile

There’s a special kind of hula, called hula ‘ili’ili, that’s done with the dancer tapping smooth river stones together as part of the rhythm and the dance.

Hula is a rich and beautiful tradition from Hawaii that actually originated with the Polynesian people who first settled in this region.  Hula can be done sitting or standing and can be accompanied by chants or song.  And it incorporates many unique and wonderfully simple instruments – such as pu’ili (bamboo sticks cut to sound as rattles) or ‘ili’ili, smooth stones held in the hand in a manner similar to castanets.  You can read more about pu’ili in the posts below.  Here’s more about the river rocks.

‘Ili’ili are two smooth stones, approximately the same size, that are held in a dancer’s hand.  The hand movements tap the stones together for the percussion sound and that becomes part of the overall arm movements incorporated into the dance.  If that sounds too complicted, here’s a short video by Kuma (Kuma is a respectful title meaning teacher or source of knowledge) Rachel that shows how to master the basics of playing ‘ili’ili.

What kind of stones are used as ‘iliili?  Most seem to be the dense smooth stones that come from volcanic rock and have been worn perfectly smooth by water.  They are often dark in color and are the same type of stones (basalt) used in hot stone massage therapy. A set of 4 rocks is required to play ‘ili’ile.

Can you try this at home if you don’t live in the Hawaiian islands?  Absolutely.  Choose four smooth rocks and practice the techniques above to create your own version of this perfectly natural percussion instrument!

Resources And Related Posts

Make Your Own Pu’ili Rhythm Sticks
http://www.tinytappingtoes.com/classroom-music/make-your-own-puili-hawaiian-rhythm-sticks/

The Ukulele – Four Strings and Jumping Fleas

https://makingmulticulturalmusic.wordpress.com/2014/02/05/the-ukelele-4-strings-and-jumping-fleas/

Ka `Imi Na`auao O Hawai`i Nei – Website Exploring Traditional Hawaiian Culture

http://www.kaimi.org/

Kuma Rachel’s Hula Information And Tutorials
http://www.hulajustforyou.com/

Hawaiian English Concordance of Hula-Related Terms
http://www.trussel2.com/haw/haw-hula.htm

 

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Make Your Own Tingsha Handbells

Most historians believe that about 4,000 years ago, craftspeople in the region around China began experimenting with metal and bronze. Although the region around China, Tibet, Nepal and Southern Asia is quite diverse, these countries share a common history of discovering and creating unique musical instruments made from metal such as gongs, bells, singing bowls and handbells known as tinghsa. Tingsha (also, ting-sha) are two small, rather heavy cymbals that are attached to a rope or piece of rawhide. They are usually about 2.5 to 4 inches in diameter and can be plain or have decorative images on them. Some have symbols such as dragons that are considered lucky or they may have mantras or other words or phrases that are a part of prayer or devotional practices.

Tingsha can be played in two different ways. Either the string is held and the two bells are allowed to strike each other or both cymbals are held and tapped together to make them ring out. Because the sound of tingsha bells is so beautiful and relaxing, they are often heard in the United States as part of

yoga or meditation practices.

MAKE YOUR OWN TINGSHA BELLS

Want to make your own version? Here is an easy project to create your own tingsha bells out of recycled materials.

SUPPLIES

Two matching bottle caps – “Snapple” caps work perfectly

String or yarn

Paint, textured paint or glitter and glue for decorating the handbells.

To make the hole in the bottlecaps:

A piece of wood (as a work area)

Hammer and nail or hammer and awl

Start by creating a hole in the center of each of the bottlecaps. You can do this by putting the bottlecap; outer side up, on a work surface (such as a spare piece of wood) and tapping it gently with a hammer and nail or use a hammer and awl.

Once you’ve created the hole, it’s a good idea to turn the cap over and tap it with a hammer to flatten the sharp edges around the hole. This makes it safer to handle when adding the string.

To decorate your two “cymbals”, you can paint or add textured fabric paint. You can also apply glue and glitter. When you’re done and they are dry, you are ready to string them together.

Thread the strong or yarn through each side and make a knot to hold it into place. Check that you like the length of your tinghsa and adjust the knots accordingly.

Play and have fun!

Crafting An Authentic Native American Style Turtle Rattle

Have you ever seen a Native American rattle made from the shell of a turtle? It’s used by a variety of tribes and it’s quiet sound is perfect for accompanying singing or special ceremonies.

These turtle rattles were made by craftsman, Ron Poole who actually started making drum beaters before he created these unique instruments. His story and comments below will tell you more about his background as a craftsperson as well as what it takes to make a traditional rattle such as the ones pictured here.

“As a young boy, I remember watching my grandfather and father create pieces of art out of materials found in nature. I was amazed at their creations and hoped I too someday would follow in their footsteps. It was not until a trip out west that the spark was lit and I began to infuse native imagery into my own work.

My carving is an effort to further the family tradition and explore the connection between cultures, myth and music.

I started out making Native inspired drum sticks also referred to as beaters which led to learning how to make Turtle Rattles. I began making the beaters after being gifted from my girlfriend a hand drum and beater making kit from Noc Bay Trading Company. They included a small black and white instruction on how to create a beater from a wooden dowel, piece of deer hide, artificial sinew, yarn and glue.

When I began making my first beater, I looked at the dowel and decided that I wanted to find wood from the forest behind my home. I enjoy trying to keep the beaters as close to their natural state as possible often leaving the bark on the beater.

When making the turtle rattles I use a power hand drill to drill out the holes and attach the leather using a thick needle and artificial sinew.  I fill the turtle rattle with sea shells that creates the percussion.  I handburn the rattles with a Nisburner hand burner. Hand burning; called pyrography, is one of my favorite parts of creating art. Burning yourself can be a bit painful but kind of comes with the territory.



Here is some of the information I include with my turtle rattles:



Legend says when Native Americans first moved into North America they called it Turtle Island. The turtle provided food and bowls. When the belly of the shell was split it gave them sharp tools and weapons. They later realized that the turtle lived a very long time. They believed it had a special spirit of longevity, strength, and wisdom. The turtles became revered and honored, and were made into rattles and hangers and decoration for use in ceremonies. Ceremonial drums were also made from larger species. This is the meaning of the Turtle Rattle.”

Links

You can view Ron’s artwork and hand-crafted items for sale at:
http://www.etsy.com/shop/RPooleDesigns

You can find a kid’s craft version of a turtle rattle made from recycled take-out containers here: http://www.dariamusic.com/docs/TurtleRattleInstructions.pdf
You can enter to win one of Ron’s beautiful turtle rattles until November 25, 2012 here: http://www.dariamusic.com/monthly_song.php

Make Your Own African-Style Tongue Rattle

The beautiful, wide and diverse continent of Africa has some truly amazing and clever musical creations. One of my favorites is a small percussion instrument called a tongue rattle.  Generally made from carved wood, the rattle is shaken quickly back and forth and a “tongue” within the two carved sides makes a noise like a person who just can’t stop talking.

It’s loud, funny, clever and a great way to allow kids to explore making rhythms and creating music.

A Few Simple Supplies

To make a homemade version of a tongue rattle, you need two (same size) plastic or styrofoam cups, tape, two twist-ties, yarn or string and some small items for making noise inside the cups. Beads, paper clips, buttons or metal washers all work perfectly for this craft.

Assemble Your Rattle

To make your cups work like a tongue rattle, turn them over and poke two holes in the top.  Next, fold a small twist-tie in half. Then, take a small string or a piece of embroidery thread and string beads, buttons or other noise-makers onto it and tie it into a circle.  Slip the string circle with the noise-makers onto the twist tie and twist that into place, attaching it inside the cup.  Adjust your string for size so that it will rattle about an inch or so from the far end of the cup. Here’s a picture of what that might look like.

Once you’ve assembled both cups, place them together and tape them up.  Now you’re set to move your hand back and forth and get the same kind of sound that’s made by one of these unusual African instruments.

Different Sounds From Different Materials

If you want to make several rattles you can compare how different ones might sound.  A rattle made with two plastic cups using heavier beads or metal washers as noise-makers may be rather loud.  A rattle made with two styrofoam cups and plastic paper clips may be a bit quieter.  You may want to experiment with what’s inside that creates sound or what’s on the outside as decoration for your musical creation.

Play Your Tongue Rattle

To play a tongue rattle, flick your wrist back and forth while holding it.  Play it slowly.  Play it quickly.  Or try something tricky like starting slowly, going faster and faster and then come to a complete stop. Sounds cool – doesn’t it?

After you’ve discovered some of the sounds your rattle can make, put on some of your favorite music and play along.  See if you can play in time with the beat or match the rhythm you’re hearing.  You might be surprised at how this simple instrument can really speak to you!

Win a Carved African Tongue Rattle

During October 2012 we’re giving away a really cool tongue rattle plus two other African instruments.  You can learn more and enter here:

http://www.dariamusic.com/monthly_song.php

More Crafty Musical Fun From Africa And Around The World

Explore a shekere made from a dried gourd or a recycled milk jug.  Turn bobby pins into a working mbira thumb piano.  Make the type of ceremonial instruments found in the hieroglyphics of Ancient Egypt. Find all this and more at:

http://www.dariamusic.com/crafts.php

More About Ancient Egyptian Music from Popular Children’s Author, Kristin Butcher

Hi, everyone. My name is Kristin Butcher, and before I do anything else, I would like to thank Daria for inviting me to visit her blog. I wrote a book called Pharaohs and Foot Soldiers which is about all the jobs people did in Ancient Egypt. That includes musicians, dancers and singers.

Music was an important aspect of daily life in Ancient Egypt. Not only was it part of religious ceremonies, festivals, and private parties, but it was also used to boost morale and set the work pace in farmers’ fields and craftspeople’s workshops. It was found on battlefields and in tombs too.

Egyptian musicians played drums, bells, flutes, harps, rattles, and trumpets. The sistrum—a sort of metal rattle—was the featured instrument in religious ceremonies. Music was often accompanied by rhythmic clapping, singing, and dancing.

Both men and women were musicians, though only women were permitted to perform in the temples. These priestess musicians held a lofty place in society. Musicians to the Pharaoh and other royalty were also admired by society. Unfortunately singers, dancers, and musicians who entertained at parties and festivals did not share this high status.

Ancient Egyptian musicians didn’t write their music down, and since they lived long before tapes and CD’s, modern people have no way of knowing what their music sounded like. We can only guess.

To find out more about me and my books, please visit my website: www.kristinbutcher.com

Check out our review of Kristin’s wonderful book – Pharaohs and Foot Soldiers: One Hundred Ancient Egyptian Jobs You Might Have Desired or Dreaded
http://favoritemulticulturalbooks.com/?p=1308

Read more about the sistrum here:
https://makingmulticulturalmusic.wordpress.com/2012/02/17/the-sistrum-an-instrument-that-dates-back-to-ancient-egypt/

Color a sistrum:
http://www.dariamusic.com/images/SistrumColoringPage.pdf

Get a cool Egyptian mini-poster:
http://www.dariamusic.com/images/SistrumFullColorPoster.pdf

Download Instructions – How To Make a Recycled Sistrum (With a Clothes Hanger)
http://www.dariamusic.com/images/SistrumMYORecycle.pdf

Download Instructions – How To Make a Natural Sistrum (With a Tree Branch)
http://www.dariamusic.com/images/SistrumMYONatural.pdf

The Sistrum – An Instrument That Dates Back To Ancient Egypt

Illustration by Madcow Designs (www.madcow-designs.com)

Almost every culture in the world has created some form of instrument that will either shake, rattle or roll.  Ancient Egypt is no exception.

If you could travel back in time to the days of the pyramids and pharaohs you might see a special kind of hand-held rattle called a sistrum.  Played mainly by women, it was moved from side to side and the bangles would rock back and forth creating a unique sound and a distinctive rhythm.

What exactly did a sistrum look like?  We’ve created a coloring page based on many of the hieroglyphics and historical data that we’ve found. We’ve also come up with some fun ways that you can make your own sistrum at home.  You can either start with a wire coat hanger or you can take a nature walk and look for a branch shaped like the letter “Y”.  And your bangles?  They can be jingle bells, pop-top tabs, metal washers or even buttons beads or seeds.  Whatever you use, you’re sure to create an amazing sounding instrument that’s both old and new at the same time!

Download – A Sistrum Coloring Page

Download Instructions – How To Make a Recycled Sistrum (With a Clothes Hanger)

Download Instructions – How To Make a Natural Sistrum (With a Tree Branch)

THE CULTURAL VALUE OF THE SEKERE

A musical instrument like the sekere (also written as shekere) carries with it the music and tradition of it’s country and its culture. This month we have gourds and gourd instruments as part of our website features so we are pleased to have a special guest column from sekere maker; Sara ‘Fabunmi, a true master craftswoman and tradition bearer of African culture.

Thanks to Sara for sharing her insight into her artwork and how this instrument promotes culture and creative expression. 

THE CULTURAL VALUE OF THE SEKERE
If I were ever asked to choose my most valuable and fulfilling creative activity, handicrafts would have to be my first choice. Since childhood, I have pursued many forms of creative expression, but, as an adult, one of my favorite crafting pleasures has been making the sekere.  I also take much pleasure in teaching others the craft, history and use of the instrument.  The flexibility of the sekere provides an easy and enjoyable way for participants to develop creative independence.

The making and playing of the sekere is an energizing experience for me that establishes a spiritual connection to my ancestors’ strength and genius. That connection is important to me because it guides me toward a better understanding of my inherent potential.  It keeps me aware of the rich cultural responsibilities passed on to me and the abundant cultural possibilities I leave to those who follow me.

My involvement with the sekere also connects me to a worldwide community of musicians and crafters, further enriching my creative spirit. Sharing techniques, supporting each other, developing musical and creative bonds, brings us closer together, strengthening the fabric of the culture for future generations. I am very proud to have the ability to take part in the preservation and promotion of the traditions of African music and crafts.

Join us at SEKERE.COM to share information, to learn more about sekere or to ask questions.

SEKERE.COM – A Beautiful African Heritage http://www.sekere.com

Some Beautiful Samples of Sara's Work

LINKS:
Sara’s wonderful and informative site: http://www.sekere.com
Color a sekere/shekere: http://www.dariamusic.com/color_Shekere.php
Hear a sekere/shekere: http://www.dariamusic.com/shekere.php
Make a real sekere – instructions from Sara Fabunmi: http://www.sekere.com/SEKERE%20TIPS.htm
Kids Project – Make a recycled sekere/shekere pdf: http://www.dariamusic.com/make_Shekere.php
Make a Sticker Sekere – a great activity for young children: https://makingmulticulturalmusic.wordpress.com/2011/07/30/make-a-sticker-shekere/
Daria’s version of the South African Song:  Here Come Our Mothers – with shekere: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AMnd7kCSRmI

The Cajita – A Little Box That Is An Instrument

Two wooden cajitas

As you travel around the world you’ll find musical instruments made from unusual items.  For instance, in Peru there is an instrument called the cajita.  That’s the Spanish word for a little box.   A traditional cajita is made from wooden donation boxes used to collect offerings of money in churches.  The box was generally worn around the neck and the top was opened and closed to receive the donations.

Then, when this clever little box was transformed into an instrument, a stick was added that could be used to tap the sides, front or top of the box at the same time the lid was being opened and closed.  In addition to tapping the outside of the box and lifting or closing the lid for sound, you might also see players opening the lid and rapping the stick on the inside walls of the box with a movement that looks like stirring soup.  Sounds confusing?  Once you watch it a time or two – you’ll see exactly how they turned a plain little wooden box into a remarkably fun and clever percussion instrument.

You can check out my simple cajita jam here:

DARIA’S CAJITA JAM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C7yazCMk4o8

A HOMEMADE CAJITA
Can you make a cajita at home without a small scale woodworking project?  Sure!  You just start with a few simple supplies such as a sturdy box with a lid (cigar boxes are perfect), two dowels or small sticks, a small kitchen cabinet or dresser drawer knob and materials to decorate your spunky little instrument.  A complete supply list is located below.

Once you’ve gotten a hold of a box you can use for this project, begin by decorating it.  Paint it, decoupage it, add stickers, construction paper or glue and yarn and make it unique.   Next, add the knob so you can lift the cajita’s lid up and down.  To do this, get an adult to assist you in hammering a small nail or using an awl to pierce a hole in the lid of the box.  Position that hole in the exact center of the box, about an inch or so away from the edge of the lid that opens up. Once you’ve created the hole, insert your knob in the top of the box with the screw beneath and tighten it into place. Now you should be able to open and close the lid of the box easily.

Next, cut two wooden dowels.  One will weigh down your box so you can play your instrument without the cajita bouncing up and down.  The other will be the playing stick that you use to tap and play your instrument.  If possible, cut the first dowel to a length just a bit short of the inner width of the box.  Glue the dowel in place in the inner front of the box and leave it to dry.  In the meantime, cut and decorate your second dowel. This one can be any length that you find comfortable to hold in your hand when you play.

Once it’s all done –  you can begin to jam!  If you like, make several cajitas and you can play them along with each other or along with other instruments.

SOME CAJITA PLAYING TIPS
If you think you’re ready to dive right in and start playing – then skip this section.   If you want some good starter suggestions, these hints may be helpful in getting the hang of how the cajita is played.

Begin to learn the instrument by tapping the sides and the front and making a pattern.  Notice how the two sounds are different.  Try something like “front, front, side.  Front, front side.” Try something similar with the sides and the top.  Later, add the sound of the lid opening and closing.  Since this can sometimes seem like rubbing your stomach and patting your head, it’s best to start with simpler patterns and then work up to more complicated ones.  If working with younger children, sometimes it’s good to let them explore the instrument so they become familiar with the sounds the cajita can make before asking them to play specific patterns. That way, they are more focused on exploration and discovery and are not so nervous about playing rhythms or beats until they are ready to do so.

After you begin getting the hang of creating rhythms with your cajita, you may want to have one person play a very simple pattern – such as opening and closing the lid. The next person can add another sound, the third and forth, add their own simple parts. This can be a fun way of building rhythm in a group or classroom so each child hears how his/her part makes up part of the overall beat.  If you check out this jam, you’ll see how the rhythm starts on one instrument called a quijana (a donkeys jawbone), the cajita is added next and finally, a large cajón (or box drum) joins in.  How cool!

QUIJANA, CAJITA AND CAJON JAM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMKKpuSd6_8

DARIA’s HOMEMADE CAJITA PICTURES
Check out some of my homemade cajitas here.

Homemade Cajita

Inside of the Homemade Cajita

SUPPLIES FOR A HOMEMADE CAJITA
Cigar box
Small knob and matching screw (knobs from kitchen cabinets or small dressers work perfectly)
Hammer and nail or awl tool (to make a hole for the knob to be inserted in lid)
Two dowels or sticks – about 8” in length
Materials for decorating such as paint, construction paper, stickers, yarn and glue