‘ud, lute, West Asia, circa 1990. A brass plaque fixed to the soundtable bears the engraving: ‘Presented to the R.M.S.M./By Student/B M. NASSER/Sultanate of Oman/1991. The vaulted back if formed of 15 ribs of pale varnished wood, with decorative stringing in a darker wood between them. The table is in seven sections, probably of spruce, and has one large and two smaller soundholes, each with a pierced rose of white plastic encircled with mother-of-pearl triangles inset in black mastic. The edge of the soundtable is also inlaid with mother-of-pearl triangles. The scratch plate is probably of sheesham wood (Dalbergia sissoo). The head is pegged for six double courses of strings, and the instrument is strung with five double courses of strings.
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The word claves (pronounced 'clar-vays') is Spanish and is derived from the small wooden dowels used in various types of construction, also called clavijas. Rhythmically speaking, claves also means key or keystone. Palitos meaning sticks in Puerto Rica. Like all idiophones, the claves' sound is made by the materials it is made from vibrating, in this case when struck or concussed together. They are sometimes called a concussion idiophone.
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