Show Summary Details

Page of

Printed from Grove Music Online. Grove is a registered trademark. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a single article for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy).

date: 13 October 2019


  • Gerhard Kubik


A term coined by George Montandon (1919) and adopted by André Schaeffner (1936) to refer to the Central African instrument also known as a bow lute (Hornbostel and Sachs, 1914; Wegner, 1984) of which there are two types. A pluriarc consists of a hollowed wooden resonator with strings running either parallel or slightly inclined to the soundboard. In contrast to harps and lutes, however, pluriarcs are not held by one string-bearer, but each string has its own flexible carrier. For this purpose, in the first type of pluriarc short arcs are inserted into a series of holes bored into the top wall of the resonator or, in the second type, they are attached to the back of the resonator and/or partly inserted. These differences affect the method of tuning.

The term ‘pluriarc’ for this class of instruments has been contested, as has the term ‘bow lute’, mainly due to the fact that both terms suggest an evolutionary sequence from musical bows consisting of ‘one arc’ to an instrument of ‘several arcs’. Jean Sebastien Laurenty was also reluctant but opted for the term ‘pluriarc’ (...

You do not currently have access to this article


Please login to access the full content.


Please subscribe to access the full content.

African Music
M. Praetorius: Syntagma musicum, i (Wittenberg and Wolfenbüttel, 1614-15, 2/1615/R); ii (Wolfenbüttel, 1618, 2/1619/R; Eng. trans., 1986, 2/1991); iii (Wolfenbüttel, 1618, 2/1619/R)