Cover image for Musical instruments : craftsmanship and traditions from prehistory to the present
Musical instruments : craftsmanship and traditions from prehistory to the present
Rault, Lucie.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Instruments de musique du monde. English
Publication Information:
New York : Harry N. Abrams, [2000]

Physical Description:
232 pages : illustrations (chiefly color), portraits ; 32 cm
The voices of nature -- The body as instrument -- Religious and ritual uses -- Instruments in society -- Giving matter a soul.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ML460 .R2813 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



Traces the evolution of musical instruments & their importance in different world cultures.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Strictly speaking, this is an art book, full of arresting one-and two-page images, mostly photos. The pictures aren't presented for art's sake, though, but for their subjects: things that used to make music. These are very seldom the standard European orchestral instruments. Instead, the whistles, gongs, drums, horns, fiddles, and guitars played by indigenous musicians throughout the world are resplendently displayed, both in use and freestanding. Besides artificial music makers, the human body, animal parts, and geological features are considered as instruments. Indeed, the book begins by explaining that paleolithic cave paintings map the natural echoes and harmonics of those caves, and then describes other caves that show signs of use for sound production. This is a text full of absorbing information--absorbing, that is, if and when one stops poring over all the magnificent pictures. --Ray Olson

Library Journal Review

In this fascinating study, Rault (head, department of ethnomusicology, Muse de l'Homme, Paris) traces the history and development of musical instruments against the backdrop of human cultures and constructs. Her approachDmore anthropological than musicological and, as she herself says, more "intuitive than scholarly"Dis quite instructive and easy to follow. Beginning with natural formations that contain musical or acoustical properties, such as the Grotte du Perche-Merle, and moving deftly among diverse customs and rituals, the author demonstrates that musical instruments and instrument-making have been an integral part of cultural history from prehistoric times to the present. Her clear and concise descriptions of specific musical traditions are greatly enhanced by the numerous and beautifully detailed illustrations. This book is an important resource for world music and instrument studies at all levels. Recommended for public and academic libraries.DTeresa M. Neff, Massachusetts Inst. of Technology, Cambridge (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Though formatted as a coffee-table book--with 200 large photographs, 150 in color--this volume was written by the head of the department of ethnomusicology at the Musée de l'Homme and is also scholarly. In thought-provoking essays, Rault focuses on the importance of viewing instruments as expressions of culture, as art objects, as extensions of the human soul, or as mediators to the spirit world--throughout the ages and across cultures. The treatment is expressly not comprehensive. The volume is strongest on Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. The author covers Europe mostly in essays such as "The Nomadic Violin," "The Roving Guitar," "Piano and Forte." Western woodwinds, brass, and the organ are absent, as are Indonesian instruments. Some of the photos actually seem too large--more moody than informative--but notable images abound: Chinese bronze drums danced in ensemble, Orpheus charming the animals in a Roman mosaic, Tibetan long trumpet players on a rooftop, Zulu women with tall, clattering dancing staffs. Rault also provides strong essays on instrument makers, the effects of materials, and the language and technology of bells. A profound vision easily compensate for minor descriptive errors. All ethnomusicology collections, academic and general. R. Knight; Oberlin College