In 1987 Ghana issued a set of stamps and miniature sheet of musical instruments. Here is the miniature sheet. It shows idiophones. These are instruments which make a sound when they are made to vibrate, and include most percussion instruments other than drums. Idiophones are common among traditional musical instruments around the world. The many varieties of rattle are examples. Some are shaken, some are struck.
1985 was the tricentenary of the birth of J S Bach, and several British Commonwealth countries issued stamps featuring European musical instruments of his time. here is the set from Antigua and Barbuda, showing a bass trombone, a cor anglais, a violino piccolo and a bass racket. The violino piccolo was about the size of a child's violin and features in the original instrumentation of Bach's first Brandenburg Concerto: nowadays the part is often taken by an oboe. The bass rackett was a double reed wind instrument with a sound not dissimilar from the modern bassoon.
Dominica was one of the countries which issued a set of stamps to mark 300th anniversary of the birth of J S Bach in 1985. The instruments of his time that are featured are the cornett, the coiled trumpet, the piccolo and the violoncello piccolo. The cornett was a wind, not a brass instrument, and not an ancestor of the modern cornet. The coiled trumpet belongs to the trumpet family of instruments. The piccolo remains a standard orchestral instrument. The violoncello piccolo was a small cello, as those of you familiar with Italian will recognise.
The Maldive Islands also issued a set of stamps to mark the 300th anniversary of J S Bach's birth. This time the instruments are the Lira da Braccio, the tenor oboe, the serpent, and a table organ. The lira da braccio was related to the modern violin family, but usually had seven strings, two of which were tuned in octaves and served as drones: it was a descendant of the vielle, an instrument widely used in Europe in the Middle Ages. The serpent was a bass wind instrument. The table organ was - as its name suggests - a variety of organ designed to be portable and placed on a table for playing.
Some more traditional African instruments, this time on a 1988 issue from Gabon. The instruments are: 90f - a form of rattle; 100f - a fang, sometimes known as a finger piano; 125f - a harp; 165f - a xylophone.
More stamps to mark the tercentenary of the birth of J S Bach in 1985, this time from Sierra Leone. the instruments are a viola pomposa, a spinet (an early keyboard instrument), a lute, and an oboe. The viola pomposa was akin to the modern viola, but had an extra, fifth string at a higher pitch: click here to read more about it on Wikipedia.
Grenada too issued stamps for the 1985 tercentenary of the birth of J S Bach. The instruments are the crumhorn, the oboe d'amore, the violin and the harpsichord. The crumhorn was a wind instrument fashioned in a way rather like the chanter on the Scottish bagpipe. The oboe d'amore was created in the early 18th century, neglected in much of the 19th, and brought back into use by composers such as Debussy and Richard Strauss.
The Grenadines also issued stamps to mark the tercentenary of J S Bach's birth. The stamps feature a natural trumpet, a bass viol, a flute and a double flageolet. The natural trumpet had no valves - the valve trumpet was not patented until 1816 - and this limited the music that could be composed for it. Most modern trumpets are valve trumpets. The bass viol was the lowest in range of a group of early, generally six-stringed, string instruments played with a bow. The flute needs no introduction. The double flageolet was one of a group of soft-toned wind instruments: among people who played flageolets were Samuel Pepys of Diary fame and the novelist Robert Louis Stevenson. Flageolets gave way to the tin whistle.
1985 - when the Europa theme was music - saw a number of other countries issue stamps with musical instruments. One was Cameroun (SG 1033-1035). The instruments are a type of xylophone, a mvet (a plucked stringed instrument with calabashes as resonators) and a variety of flute.
Some musical instruments from Algeria: a 1984 set, SG 876-879. They feature a form of guitar, a drum, what is I think a drone, and a bowed string instrument. I do not know Arabic so I cannot give more detail.
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