Mouthbow Music from John Palmes

From 'Mouthbow: Small Voices'

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Folk musician John Palmes, a salmon fisherman and folk musician from Juneau, Alaska, plays everything from Bach to James Brown. What is unusual is his instrument, the mouthbow.

John Palmes demonstrates his mouthbow.

John Palmes demonstrates his mouthbow. eFolkMusic hide caption

itoggle caption eFolkMusic

Considered the world's oldest stringed instrument, the mouthbow consists of a single string made of horsehair, sinew, or wire and a curved piece of wood or bone. Scholars believe the mouthbow first came to the United States with slaves from Africa.

Marika Partridge reviews Palmes' new CD, Mouthbow: Small Voices, which contains detailed instructions for making and playing a mouthbow.

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