The boom-ba (highly likely to have come from German "Bumbaß" [pronounced "BOOM-bahss"]; "bum" possibly coming from an older form of "brummen", "to hum", and "baß" meaning "bass", as in music) is a bladder fiddle, known throughout the Pennsylvania Dutch culture of eastern Pennsylvania, United States. The instrument focuses heavily on loud percussion, typically consisting of a variety of percussion instruments attached to a wooden pole. The exact designs of a boom-ba vary, with much emphasis being put on the personalization of the boom-ba. Common features typically include a spring-loaded rubber base (much like a pogo stick), with percussion instruments such as bells and wood blocks attached. Nearly all boom-bas also include a set of cymbals which crash as the boom-ba is bounced, and a tambourine which can be played with a drumstick or shaken as the boom-ba is played.
The boom-ba is similar in nature to the "stumpf fiddle", though the stumpf fiddle generally lacks the loud crashing cymbal on top. It is this loud crash when bounced that makes the boom-ba distinct. An older, German variant of the stumpf fiddle and the boom-ba is the "Teufelsgeige" (German word, literally meaning "Devil's fiddle"), which is decorated with a Devil's head at the top of the pole[better source needed].
- Anthony C. Baines. "Bumbass", Grove Music Online, ed. L. Macy (accessed August 20, 2006), grovemusic.com (subscription access).
- They're Happy They Play The Boomba And They're Dears. August 5, 1999, by Kathy Lauer-Williams, The Morning Call
- Chip Bailey's Amazing Stumpf Fiddle Demonstration at YouTube.com