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Encyclopedia > Lyre
Greek vase with muse playing kithara

The lyre is a stringed musical instrument well known for its use in Classical Antiquity and later. The recitations of the Ancient Greeks were accompanied by lyre playing. The lyre of Classical Antiquity was ordinarily played by being strummed with a plectrum, like a guitar or a zither, rather than being plucked, like a harp. The fingers of the free hand silenced the unwanted strings in the chord. Image File history File links Gnome-globe. ... Lyres (often referred to as The Lyres) are a Boston-area alternative rock musical group led by Jeff Mono Man Connolly. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Download high resolution version (1520x2767, 234 KB) Summary Licensing File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): Lyre Metadata This file contains additional information, probably added from the digital camera or scanner used... Image File history File linksMetadata Download high resolution version (1520x2767, 234 KB) Summary Licensing File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): Lyre Metadata This file contains additional information, probably added from the digital camera or scanner used... A string instrument (or stringed instrument) is a musical instrument that produces sound by means of vibrating strings. ... Classical antiquity is a broad term for a long period of cultural history centered on the Mediterranean Sea, which begins roughly with the earliest-recorded Greek poetry of Homer (7th century BC), and continues through the rise of Christianity and the fall of the Western Roman Empire (5th century AD... The Temple of Athena, the Parthenon Ancient Greece is a period in Greek history that lasted for around nine hundred years. ... Various guitar picks A plectrum is a small flat tool used to pluck or strum a stringed instrument. ... For other uses, see Guitar (disambiguation). ... Concert zither The zither is a musical string instrument, mainly used in folk music, most commonly in German-speaking Alpine Europe. ... The harp is a stringed instrument which has the plane of its strings positioned perpendicular to the soundboard. ...

Contents

Classification

Lyres from various times and places are regarded by some organologists (specialists in the history of musical instruments) as a branch of the zither family, a general category which includes many different stringed instruments, such as lutes, guitars, kantele, and psalterys, not just zithers. Concert zither The zither is a musical string instrument, mainly used in folk music, most commonly in German-speaking Alpine Europe. ... A medieval era lute. ... For other uses, see Guitar (disambiguation). ... Koistinen concert kantele with 38 strings A kantele, Finnish (or kannel) in Estonian, is a traditional plucked string instrument. ... A psaltery is a stringed musical instrument of the harp or the zither family. ... Concert zither The zither is a musical string instrument, mainly used in folk music, most commonly in German-speaking Alpine Europe. ...


Others view the lyre and zither as being two separate classes. Those specialists maintain that the zither is distinguished by strings spread across all or most of its soundboard, or the top surface of its sound chest, also called soundbox or resonator, as opposed to the lyre, whose strings emanate from a more or less common point off the soundboard, such as a tailpiece. Examples of that difference include a piano (a keyed zither) and a violin (referred to by some as a species of fingerboard lyre). Some specialists even argue that instruments such as the violin and guitar belong to a class apart from the lyre because they have no yokes or uprights surmounting their resonators as "true" lyres have. This group they usually refer to as the lute class, after the instrument of that name, and include within it the guitar, the violin, the banjo, and similar stringed instruments with fingerboards. Those who differ with that opinion counter by calling the lute, violin, guitar, banjo, and other such instruments "independent fingerboard lyres," as opposed to simply "fingerboard lyres" such as the Welsh crwth, which have both fingerboards and frameworks above their resonators. Concert zither The zither is a musical string instrument, mainly used in folk music, most commonly in German-speaking Alpine Europe. ... The violin is a bowed string instrument with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. ... Fretted guitar fingerboard. ... A medieval era lute. ... For other uses, see Banjo (disambiguation) The banjo is a stringed instrument of African American origin adapted from several African instruments. ... Wales is a part of the United Kingdom, but is a culturally and politically separate Celtic country. ... A modern crwth in its case The crwth is an archaic stringed musical instrument, associated particularly with Wales, although once played widely in Europe. ...


One point on which organologists universally agree is that the distinction between harps on the one hand and zithers and lyres (and, in some views, lutes) on the other is that harps have strings emanating directly from the soundboard and residing in a plane that is basically perpendicular to the soundboard, as opposed to the other instruments, whose strings are attached to one or more points somewhere off the soundboard (e.g., wrest pins on a zither, tailpiece on a lyre or lute) and lie in a plane essentially parallel to it. They also agree that neither the overall size of the instrument nor the number of strings on it have anything to do with its classification. For example, small Irish harps can be held on the lap, while some ancient Sumerian lyres appear to have been as tall as a seated man (see Kinsky; also Sachs, History ..., under "References"). Regarding the number of strings, the standard 88-key piano has many more strings than even the largest harp. The harp is a stringed instrument which has the plane of its strings positioned perpendicular to the soundboard. ... Sumer (or Shumer, Sumeria, Shinar, native ki-en-gir) formed the southern part of Mesopotamia from the time of settlement by the Sumerians until the time of Babylonia. ...


Construction

A classical lyre has a hollow body or sound-chest (also known as soundbox or resonator). Extending from this sound-chest are two raised arms, which are sometimes hollow, and are curved both outward and forward. They are connected near the top by a crossbar or yoke. An additional crossbar, fixed to the sound-chest, forms the bridge which transmits the vibrations of the strings. The deepest note was that farthest from the player's body; as the strings did not differ much in length, more weight may have been gained for the deeper notes by thicker strings, as in the violin and similar modern instruments, or they were tuned by having a slacker tension. The strings were of gut. They were stretched between the yoke and bridge, or to a tailpiece below the bridge. There were two ways of tuning: one was to fasten the strings to pegs which might be turned; the other was to change the place of the string upon the crossbar; probably both expedients were simultaneously employed. The violin is a bowed string instrument with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. ... For the Physics term GUT, please refer to Grand unification theory The gastrointestinal or digestive tract, also referred to as the GI tract or the alimentary canal or the gut, is the system of organs within multicellular animals which takes in food, digests it to extract energy and nutrients, and...

Woman playing a kithara, 1913 photo posed to recall Classical Antiquity
Woman playing a kithara, 1913 photo posed to recall Classical Antiquity

According to ancient Greek mythology, the young god Hermes created the lyre from a large tortoise shell (khelus) which he covered with animal hide and antelope horns. Lyres were associated with Apollonian virtues of moderation and equilibrium, contrasting with the Dionysian pipes and aulos, both of which represented ecstasy and celebration. Woman playing lyre, 1913 photo. ... Woman playing lyre, 1913 photo. ... The kithara was an ancient Greek musical instrument. ... The bust of Zeus found at Otricoli (Sala Rotonda, Museo Pio-Clementino, Vatican) Greek mythology is the body of stories belonging to the Ancient Greeks concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. ... Hermes bearing the infant Dionysus, by Praxiteles, found at the Heraion, Olympia, 1877 Hermes (Greek, , IPA: ), in Greek mythology, is the Olympian god of boundaries and of the travelers who cross them, of shepherds and cowherds, of orators and wit, of literature and poets, of athletics, of weights and measures... This article or section is in need of attention from an expert on the subject. ... Genera Aepyceros Alcelaphus Antidorcas Antilope Cephalophus Connochaetes Damaliscus Gazella Hippotragus Kobus Madoqua Neotragus Oreotragus Oryx Ourebia Pantholops Procapra Sylvicapra Taurotragus Tragelaphus and others Antelope are herbivorous mammals of the family Bovidae, often noted for their horns. ... Highland cow, a very old long-horned breed from Scotland. ... For other uses, see Apollo (disambiguation). ... Dionysus with a leopard, satyr and grapes on a vine, in the Palazzo Altemps (Rome, Italy) Dionysus or Dionysos (from the Ancient Greek Διώνυσος or Διόνυσος, associated with the Italic Liber), the Thracian god of wine, represents not only the intoxicating power of wine, but also its social and beneficial influences. ... Pan pipes (also known as the panflute or the syrinx or quills) is an ancient musical instrument based on the principle of the stopped pipe, consisting usually of ten or more pipes of gradually increasing length. ... A nude youth plays the aulos at a banquet: Attic red-figure cup by the Euaion Painter, ca. ...


Locales in southern Europe, western Asia, or north Africa have been proposed as the historic birthplace of the genus. The instrument is still played in north-eastern parts of Africa. World map showing the location of Europe. ... World map showing the location of Asia. ... A world map showing the continent of Africa Africa is the worlds second-largest and second most-populous continent, after Asia. ... A world map showing the continent of Africa Africa is the worlds second-largest and second most-populous continent, after Asia. ...


Some of the cultures using and developing the lyre were the Aeolian and Ionian Greek colonies on the coasts of Asia (ancient Asia Minor, modern day Turkey) bordering the Lydian empire. Some mythic masters like Orpheus, Musaeus, and Thamyris were believed to have been born in Thrace, another place of extensive Greek colonization. The name kissar (kithara) given by the ancient Greeks to Egyptian box instruments reveals the apparent similarities recognized by Greeks themselves. The cultural peak of ancient Egypt, and thus the possible age of the earliest instruments of this type, predates the 5th century classic Greece. This indicates the possibility that the lyre might have existed in one of Greece's neighboring countries, either Thrace, Lydia, or Egypt, and was introduced into Greece at pre-classic times. Aeolia may mean: Another name for Aeolis in Anatolia. ... Location of Ionia Ionia (Greek Ιωνία; see also list of traditional Greek place names) was an ancient region of southwestern coastal Anatolia (in present-day Turkey, the region nearest Ä°zmir,) on the Aegean Sea. ... The head of Orpheus, from an 1865 painting by Gustave Moreau. ... Musaeus was the name of three Greek poets. ... In Greek mythology, Thamyris, son of Philammon and the nymph Argiope, was a Thracian singer who was so proud of his skill that he boasted he could outsing the Muses. ... Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak  Thrace (Bulgarian: , Greek: , Attic Greek: ThrāíkÄ“ or ThrēíkÄ“, Latin: , Turkish: ) is a historical and geographic area in southeast Europe. ... Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak  Thrace (Bulgarian: , Greek: , Attic Greek: ThrāíkÄ“ or ThrēíkÄ“, Latin: , Turkish: ) is a historical and geographic area in southeast Europe. ... Lydia (Greek ) is a historic region of western Anatolia, congruent with Turkeys modern provinces of Ä°zmir and Manisa. ...


Number of strings on the classical lyre

The number of strings varied at different epochs, and possibly in different localities – four, seven and ten having been favorite numbers. They were used without a fingerboard, no Greek description or representation having ever been met with that can be construed as referring to one. Nor was a bow possible, the flat sound-board being an insuperable impediment. The plectrum, however, was in constant use. It was held in the right hand to set the upper strings in vibration; when not in use, it hung from the instrument by a ribbon. The fingers of the left hand touched the lower strings (presumably to silence those whose notes were not wanted). Fretted guitar fingerboard. ... A cello bow In music, a bow is a device pulled across the strings of a string instrument in order to make them vibrate and emit sound. ... Various guitar picks A plectrum is a small flat tool used to pluck or strum a stringed instrument. ...


There is no evidence as to the stringing of the Greek lyre in the heroic age. Plutarch says that Olympus and Terpander used but three strings to accompany their recitation. As the four strings led to seven and eight by doubling the tetrachord, so the trichord is connected with the hexachord or six-stringed lyre depicted on so many archaic Greek vases. The accuracy of this representation cannot be insisted upon, the vase painters being little mindful of the complete expression of details; yet one may suppose their tendency would be rather to imitate than to invent a number. It was their constant practice to represent the strings as being damped by the fingers of the left hand of the player, after having been struck by the plectrum which he held in the right hand. Before Greek civilization had assumed its historic form, there was likely to have been great freedom and independence of different localities in the matter of lyre stringing, which is corroborated by the antique use of the chromatic (half-tone) and enharmonic (quarter-tone) tunings pointing to an early exuberance, and perhaps also to an Asiatic bias towards refinements of intonation. Mestrius Plutarchus (Greek: Πλούταρχος; 46 - 127), better known in English as Plutarch, was a Greek historian, biographer, essayist, and Middle Platonist. ... This article refers to a mountain in Greece. ... Terpander, of Antissa in Lesbos, was a Greek poet and citharode who lived about the first half of the 7th century BC. About the time of the Second Messenian War, he settled in Sparta, whither, according to some accounts, he had been summoned by command of the Delphian oracle, to... A quarter tone is an interval half as wide (aurally, or logarithmically) as a semitone, which is half a whole tone. ...


Modern Greece

While the lyre is no longer played in modern Greece, the term lyra lives on as the name shared by various regional types of folk fiddles (bowed lutes) found throughout the country. There are two basic styles of lyra fiddles: 1) a pear-shaped instrument with a vaulted back which is found in the Greek islands – in particular, the Dodecanese and Crete – and the northern mainland regions of Macedonia and Thrace; and 2) an instrument with a narrow rectangular cylinder body of the Pontic Greeks who trace their roots to Pontos (Pontus), the Black Sea region of northern Turkey. (The Pontic Greek lyra is also known as kemenche.) Both types of lyra typically have three strings. They are held vertically upright and bowed horizontally; if the player is seated, the instrument's base rests on the player's upper left thigh. The Cretan lyra is traditionally played in a duo with the laouto, a long-neck fretted lute that is strummed like a guitar. The Roman emperor Nero was actually a very skilled player and singer during his reign over Rome. For the famous World War II battle, see: Battle of Crete For other uses, see Crete (disambiguation). ... Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak  Thrace (Bulgarian: , Greek: , Attic Greek: ThrāíkÄ“ or ThrēíkÄ“, Latin: , Turkish: ) is a historical and geographic area in southeast Europe. ... Traditional rural Pontic house A man in traditional clothes from Trabzon, illustration Pontus is the name which was applied, in ancient times, to extensive tracts of country in the northeast of Asia Minor (modern Turkey) bordering on the Euxine (Black Sea), which was often called simply Pontos (the main), by... 1 Tepe - Top : Same as the body To Kifal - Head : Same as the body 2 Otia - Pegs (Ears): Same as the body 3 Goula - Neck : Same as the body 4 Spaler - Fingerboard (Slabbering bib) : Same as the body 5 Kapak - Soundboard 6 Rothounia - Soundholes (Nostrals) 7 Gaidaron - Bridge (Rider): Made... History (Timeline and Samples) Genres: Classical music -Folk - Hip hop - Jazz - Rock Regional styles Aegean Islands - Arcadia - Argos - Athens - Crete - Cyclades - Dodecanese Islands - Epirus - Ionian Islands - Lesbos - Macedonia - Peloponnesos - Thessaloniki - Thessaly - Thrace - Cyprus Crete is an island that is a SMALL part of Greece. ...


Central and Northern Europe

Other instruments known as lyres have been fashioned and used in Europe outside the Greco-Roman world since at least the early middle ages, and one view holds that many modern stringed instruments are late-emerging examples of the lyre class. There is no clear evidence that non-Greco-Roman lyres were played exclusively with plectra, and numerous instruments regarded by some as modern lyres are played with bows. In modern Olympic and amateur wrestling, Greco-Roman wrestling is a particular style and variation. ... A cello bow In music, a bow is a device pulled across the strings of a string instrument in order to make them vibrate and emit sound. ...


Lyres appearing to have emerged independently of Greco-Roman prototypes were used by the Teutonic, Gallic, Scandinavian, and Celtic peoples over a thousand years ago. Dates of origin, which probably vary from region to region, cannot be determined, but the oldest known fragments of such instruments are thought to date from around the sixth century of the Common Era. After the bow made its way into Europe from the Middle-East, around two centuries later, it was applied to several species of those lyres that were small enough to make bowing practical. There came to be two broad classes of bowed European yoke lyres: those with fingerboards dividing the open space within the yoke longitudinally, and those without fingerboards. The last surviving examples of instruments within the latter class were the Scandinavian talharpa and jouhikko. Different tones could be obtained from a single bowed string by pressing the fingernails of the player's left hand against various points, or nodes, along the string to produce various harmonics. This method is referred to as nail technique. In modern Olympic and amateur wrestling, Greco-Roman wrestling is a particular style and variation. ... Prototypes or prototypical instances combine the most representative attributes of a category. ... The term Germanic peoples may refer to: the Germanic tribes that in the first millennium were seen as a barbarian threat by the Roman Empire and its successors; the Germanic Christianity that in the second millennium came to dominate much of Northern Europe, politically organized in the Holy Roman Empire... Gallic, derived from the name for the ancient Roman province of Gaul, describes the cultural traditions and national characters of the French speaking nations and regions, as Hispanic does for the Hispanophone world, Anglo-Saxon for the Anglophone, and Lusitanic for the Lusophone. ... Scandinavia is a historical and geographical region centered on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe and includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden. ... This article is about the European people. ... The traditional Middle East and the G8s Greater Middle East Political & transportation map of the traditional Middle East today The Middle East is a historical and political region of Africa-Eurasia with no clear definition. ... The talharpa is a four-stringed bowed lyre from northern Europe. ... The jouhikko is an ancient, usually three-stringed Finnish bowed lyre, also called jouhikannel (see kantele). ... In acoustics and telecommunication, the harmonic of a wave is a component frequency of the signal that is an integral multiple of the fundamental frequency. ...


The last of the bowed yoke lyres with fingerboard was the "modern" (ca. 1485 - ca. 1800) Welsh crwth. It had several predecessors both in the British Isles and in Continental Europe. Pitch was changed on individual strings by pressing the string firmly against the fingerboard with the fingertips. Rather than producing harmonics, this method shortened the vibrating length of the string to produce higher tones, while releasing the finger gave the string a greater vibrating length, thereby producing a tone lower in pitch. This is the principle on which the modern violin and guitar work. Wales is a part of the United Kingdom, but is a culturally and politically separate Celtic country. ... A modern crwth in its case The crwth is an archaic stringed musical instrument, associated particularly with Wales, although once played widely in Europe. ...


While the dates of origin and other evolutionary details of the European bowed yoke lyres continue to be disputed among organologists, there is general agreement that none of them were the ancestors of modern orchestral bowed stringed instruments, as once was thought.


Alternative meanings of "lyre"

In furniture design, a lyre arm is a wooden lyre-shaped element often used at the front of the arm of a chair, typically created as an exposed wooden part of a chair, sofa or other furniture piece. American Federal Period sofa with lyre arm design circa 1790 A lyre arm is an element of design in furniture, architecture or the decorative arts, wherein a shape is employed to emulate the geometry of a lyre;[1] the original design of this element is from the Classical Greek period... Typical Western wooden chair A chair is a piece of furniture for sitting, consisting of a seat, a back, and sometimes arm rests, commonly for use by one person. ...


A music holder used by marching bands is also called a "lyre" for its shape similar to this instrument.


Lyre also can denote the framework supporting the foot pedals underneath a piano. The term is most often used in connection with older pianos of ornate designs. A short grand piano, with the top up. ...

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References

  • This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.
  • Andersson, Otto. The Bowed Harp, translated and edited by Kathleen Schlesinger (London: New Temple Press, 1930).
  • Bachmann, Werner. The Origins of Bowing, trans. Norma Deane (London: Oxford University Press, 1969).
  • Kinsky, George. A History of Music in Pictures (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1937).
  • Sachs, Curt. The Rise of Music in the Ancient World, East and West (New York: W.W. Norton, 1943).
  • Sachs, Curt. The History of Musical Instruments (New York: W.W. Norton, 1940).

  Results from FactBites:
 
Lyre - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (842 words)
The lyre is a member of the zither family, and was ordinarilly played by strumming, like a guitar, rather than being plucked, like a harp.
Lyres were associated with Apollonian virtues of moderation and equilibrium, contrasting the Dionysian pipes which represented ecstasy and celebration.
Some of the heroes and improvers of the lyre were of the Aeolian or Ionian Greek colonies on the coasts of Asia (ancient Asia Minor, modern day Turkey) bordering the Lydian empire.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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