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musical bow

stringed musical instrument found in most archaic cultures as well as in many in the present day. It consists of a flexible stick 1.5 to 10 feet (0.5 to 3 m) long, strung end to end with a taut cord that the player plucks or taps to produce a weak fundamental note. The player may produce other notes by stopping the string with finger and thumb; by lightly touching the string to produce faint-sounding overtones; by tying the string to the stick to form two taut segments; or, on a mouth bow, by using the mouth as a resonator, varying its cavity in order to isolate overtones. In a gourd bow a truncated gourd attached to the stick serves as a resonator. Other musical bows may have separate resonators, such as a gourd or pot.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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