The following include a selection of musical instruments recorded,
photographed, or sketched for the California Folk Music
Project Collection. Information cited in quotes is taken
from the WPA Final Report for the Project, entitled
"A Study of California Folk Music," pp. 8-11. Browse
"American. . . 5-string banjo."
Also called blur. "The performer called it a "syrinx,"
but "it is probably a mistake . . . It is a single
flute whose aperture is round, not closed or shaped
in any way, except that its diameter is slightly less
at the mouthpiece than at the bell. It is made of
ebony. . . an instrument of the Kurdish shepherds.
From Turkish Armenia."
harp: Also called "Irish or small bardic harp."
Also called "cembalom . . . From Hungary. This is
the ancestor of our hammer dulcimer and of our piano.
It has forty-eight strings, which are stretched over
a large sounding board and sounded with small hammers."
Played in place of the "kirnata" by Armenian performer.
Also called deff, def, or "defs . . . the tambourine,
used in Greek and Turkish popular orchestras. From
"American hammer-type dulcimer with 13 strings."
Also called "dumbeg . . . the hour-glass drum of Syria,
played with the fingers."
Also called "dvogrla . . . a double pipe [flute],
with three holes for the right hand and four for the
left. From Balkan Peninsula."
guitar: Also called "guitarra portuguesa or Portuguese
guitar, this guitar has five strings instead of six,
and looks much like the vihuela of the Middle Ages
. . . shaped much like our mandolin, with a characteristic
fan-shaped tuning mechanism."
In this collection, guitar occasionally refers to
the Spanish guitar or "sonora, a very small form of
Also called "gusla. . . a one-stringed, bowed instrument,
whose single string is made of thirty horsehairs.
The string is only touched, not depressed, so that
harmonics only are sounded. It is held between the
legs with the long neck supported on one thigh."
fiddle: "A small [Norwegian] violin with four
Also called "mouth harp."
Also called "Swedish lute (known popularly as the
guitar: A guitar with steel strings that are plucked
while being pressed with a movable steel bar.
Also called "kemancha . . . A small knee fiddle, bowed
like a cello with four strings and four sympathetic
strings. From Azerbaijan."
"Small fiddle with three strings, held on the knee
and bowed like cello, from Dalmatia."
Pear-shaped instrument of the lute family with fretted
neck and from four to six pairs of strings.
Also called "Mjersnice (one from Dalmatia, one from
Hezegovina) . . . bagpipes made out of the skin of
a goat . . . The chanter is a double pipe with six
holes on each side. One pipe is used as the drone
and occasionally fingered, the other side used for
the tune, in nearly the same register as the drone."
Also called "Oude . . . the modern form of the lute,
Also called "Kanoon . . . A plucked instrument not
unlike the zither, whose 30 strings may be varied
in pitch by the use of small bridges. Its sounding
box is half-covered in wood, half in a heavy skin
like a drum. It has twenty-three strings all of gut.
It is held flat on the knees for playing. From Azerbaijan."
hsien: Also called Chinese long-necked lute, "3
strings . . . small snake-covered head.
"The old Azerbaijan guitar, with three strings, a
small oval sounding box and an unusually long neck."
"A simple six-hole shepherd's pipe [flute], from Dalmatia."
"A double-bellied guitar from Azerbaijan."
Percussion instrument made of a rod of steel bent
into the shape of a triangle, open at one corner,
and sounded by striking with a metal rod.
d'arame: Also called "Portuguese viola . . . Like
the Portuguese [English] guitar, it has five strings
which are plucked with the fingers; but it is more
like the Spanish guitar in shape, longer and narrower
than the instrument the Portuguese call the guitar
. . .Traditionally the sound holes are cut in the
shape of two small hearts."
Also called Chinese temple or flower drum.
ch'in: Also called Moon lute, Chinese lute, or
"Moon violin . . . A round plucked string instrument."
Also called "Surna . . . An oboe whose reeds are interchangeable
with the Chinese oboe, whose tone it much resembles.