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Chordophones - Strings
(cumulative list, from all years' programs)

Instrument: Violin
Dance/Movement Style in PLM: Polish Mountain Dances, Sones Antiguos, Clogging and Tap, Hungarian Dance, Bharatanatyam

The violin is a wooden instrument played with a bow, having four strings tuned at intervals of a fifth, an unfretted fingerboard, and capable of great flexibility in range, tone, and dynamics. The violin is considered a chordophone since it is an instrument that produces sounds from the vibrations of strings.

Instrument: Guitar
Dance/Movement Style in PLM: Afro-Peruvian Folkloric: Festejo & Zapateo, Andean Dance, Flamenco, Sones Antiguos, Gumboot, Clogging and Tap
The guitar is a descendant of various Middle Eastern instruments including "el 'ud" - the lute - and "tar", a long-necked lute of Persia. ("tar" means "string"). Today's acoustic guitar has six steel or nylon strings stretched across a fret board and a hollow wooden body. (Mexican style guitars traditionally use nylon strings.)

Instrument: Kora
Dance/Movement Style in PLM: Mandeng and Wolof

The kora is played in the westernmost part of Africa in Mali, Gambia, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Senegal. Each region has a characteristic playing style. The kora is made from a half a gourd calabash with a hardwood post that runs through it to which the strings, made of monofilament fishing line, are attached. In the days before monofilament was available, braided antelope hide was used. Cowhide is stretched over the open side of the half calabash and then left in the sun to dry tight and hold the handposts in place. A tall bridge is mounted upright on the skin face of the instrument and separates the strings into two planes. The kora player supports the instrument with the 3rd, 4th, and 5th fingers and the notes are played with the thumbs and forefingers of both hands. A traditional kora has 21 strings but it is very common to see a 22-string kora with an extra bass string used in the style known as Yenyengo (get up and dance). In the Cassamance region of southern Senegal it is also common to see the 25 string Kora Cassamance.


Instrument: Banjo
Dance/Movement Style in PLM: Clogging and Tap
The banjo's origins are from West Africa, a distant lute family cousin of the kora. Originally, the African forerunner of the banjo was made from a gourd, with a goatskin stretched across an opening. With a fingerboard neck attached to the gourd and as few as two strings, you have a banjo in its original state. Construction of the banjo changed over time in the Southern U.S.- using wood and/or metal to create the body frame, replacing the gourd. Steel strings, and fiberglass heads instead of skin, a very recent development, have altered the sound and function of the banjo. Currently the four-string banjo is sometimes played with Irish music and with Dixieland bands. The open backed five-string banjo is typically played with old-time country music, in the claw hammer style, strumming down on the strings. Bluegrass banjos (also with five strings) are "picked" with metal fingerpicks, and have a resonator on the back of the instrument, giving it a brassier, louder sound. The fifth string (located half way up the neck) is tuned an octave higher and strummed with the thumb to provide a backbeat to the melody.

Instrument: Chinese classical instruments
Dance/Movement Style in PLM: Chinese Theatrical Dance (Wuju), DunHuang Dance, Kunqu Opera
From left: erhu, literally "2 string", a bowed fiddle where the bow-hairs are strung between the two strings -- permanently attaching the bow to the fiddle; pipa, a plucked lute-like instrument with frets and four strings; di zi, A Chinese flute with paper stuck over one of the holes with garlic juice to produce a bright, buzzing sound. (A similar flute is called dong xiao and is played straight out, not to the side); gu zheng, a Chinese zither (bottom) with 16 to 23 strings and movable bridges used to set the pitch of each of the strings.
All are plucked or bowed except the pipa.

Instrument: Oud (Arabic lute)
Dance/Movement Style in PLM: Nubian Dance
This pan-Middle Eastern short-necked lute is the ancestor of the European lute. The name comes from al-oud (branch of wood). According to some oral histories, the oud is thought to have been created by a descendent of the biblical figure Cain. Shaped like half a pear with a short fretted neck, it has five pairs of strings, each pair tuned to the same pitch, plus a single string, which is also the thickest, known as the bamteli in Turkish. The oud is played with a plectrum (often a trimmed eagle's feather) and produces a deep and mellow sound. It is the principal instrument of the Arab world, and is of secondary importance in Turkey, Iran, Armenia and Azerbaijan. It also plays an important role in north African countries, such as Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, and Sudan.

Instrument: Charango
Dance/Movement Style in PLM: Andean Dance
The Charango is a small ten-string lute, which is believed to have originated in Aymara territory ( Potosi) in the 17th century. Created after the Spanish conquest, it was influenced by the Spanish vihuela (an ancestor of the guitar). The back of the instrument is traditionally fashioned from the carapace of the armadillo, however today many of the best charangos have wooden backs instead of employing the armadillo shell.
Charango views

Instrument: Balalaika
Dance/Movement Style in PLM: Russian Dance, Romani dance forms
The balalaika is a Russian folk guitar with a triangular body shape. The back of the balalaika is slightly bowed. The balalaika has six strings, in three pairs of two. It has a small wooden body, giving it a resonant but small tone. It is usually strummed quickly as an accompaniment to other instruments.

Instrument: Ukelele
Dance/Movement Style in PLM: Maori Poi
The ukulele, a string instrument traditionally associated with Hawaii, finds its roots in music from indigenous Hawaiian communities as well as Portugal, Spain, South America, Africa and European band music! Originating in Hawaii around 1880, this portable instrument has a distinctively small guitar-like body, a relatively short neck and gut (later nylon) strings. By the 1920s and 30s, its popularity was widespread throughout North America, and its sound was closely associated with the early music of Tin Pan Alley and vaudeville music shows. Inexpensive models made from plastic were widely marketed up until the 1980s in the United States.

Instrument: Jarana
Dance/Movement Style in PLM: Veracruz Dance and Music
The jarana is a small guitar-type instrument that typically has eight strings (three pairs flanked by two singles). The jarana is traditionally carved from a single piece of wood and constructed in different sizes. In the music of Mexican son jarocho, although the particular instruments used may vary, jaranas provide the basic chord sequence (compás) and are always present. Against this rhythm/chord compás, the harp improvises sparkling diamond bright arpeggios and melodies over a syncopated bass pattern. The small four-string requinto jarocho (also called guitarra de son), which is plucked with a cow-horn pick, improvises more percussive melodies. In some regions it is common to omit the harp or substitute a violin.

Instrument: Berimbau
Dance/Movement Style in PLM: Capoeira

The berimbau
, a vital aspect of the art of capoeira, is called "the leader" because it's rhythm controls the tempo, mood and energy of the games the capoeiristas play. It evolved from a one-stringed instrument brought to Brazil from Angola in the 19th century. At the foot of the berimbau the players offer their respect and begin the game of capoeira. The Verga is the bracing stick, usually four or five feet long. The Arame is the wire strung to both ends of the verga to form the bow-like shape of the berimbau. The Baqueta is the wooden stick that is used to strike the arame and create the sound of the berimbau. The Moeda/Dobrão is the coin or rock placed against the arame to create different tones in the music. The Cabaca is the hollowed out gourd used as a resonation chamber similar to the guitar's body. The Caxixi is a small basket of seeds held in the same hand as the baqueta.

Instrument: Sarod
Dance/Movement Style in PLM: Kathak

Many scholarly and anecdotal accounts consider the ancestral source of the sarod to be the rebab, a similar lute-type instrument originating in Afghanistan and Kashmir. However, there are speculations that a predecessor to the sarod might have existed almost two thousand years ago in ancient India. Instruments which resemble the sarod are found in carvings of the 1st century in the Champa temple, as well as in paintings in the ancient Ajanta Caves.

Photo from

Instrument: Double Bass
Dance/Movement Style in PLM:

The double bass is also known as the contrabass and is characterized by its large shape and low-pitch sound. A part of the string instrument family, the double bass is related to the viols and violin. It is made of a variety of woods, and is played with a bow or by plucking the strings.

Instrument: Veena
Dance/Movement Style in PLM: Bharatanatyam
The veena is a plucked string instrument that has origins in South India. It is a member of the lute family and is about four feet in length. The veena is played by sitting cross-legged with the instrument held tilted slightly away from the player. It is used to emphasize the melody of the vocalist and as an accompaniment.

Instrument: Haegeum
Dance/Movement Style in PLM: Geommu

The haegeum is a traditional Korean string instrument, resembling a fiddle. It has a rodlike neck, a hollow wooden soundbox, and two silk strings, and is held vertically on the knee of the performer and played with a bow.

Instrument: Gayageum
Dance/Movement Style in PLM: Geommu

The gayageum, or kayagum is a traditional Korean zither-like string instrument, with 12 strings. It draws its name from the ancient Korean confederacy of Gaya, where it is said to have been invented. It is probably the best known traditional Korean musical instrument.



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