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Still Waters

South American musical instruments reflect population relationships

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Still Waters

Music is an intrinsic expression of cultural diversity and a fundamental element of identity, ritual symbolism, and daily social interaction. The study of material culture, and musical instruments in particular, represents a relevant and innovative tool to characterize societies and reconstruct their historical trajectories and relationships in time and space.

The authors started by reviewing one of the most popular classifications of global organology (the study of musical instruments): the system of von Hornbostel and Sachs, assembled at the beginning of the 20th century. The classification breaks down from four main classes of instruments: idiophones (vibration of the instrument itself e.g., a rattle), membranophones (vibration of a membrane, e.g., a drum), chordophones (vibration of strings, e.g., a guitar), and aerophones (vibration of wind, e.g., a flute).



Cultural macroevolution of musical instruments in South America


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