Lâvta [lavta] (Gk. político laoúto)
- Eric Bernard Ederer
[lavta] (Gk. político laoúto)
Long-necked lute particular to Istanbul and, since the early 21st century, to Athens. Called ‘lute of the city’ (i.e. Constantinople) in Greek, it appears to be a mid-17th-century Ottoman adaptation of the Cretan laoúto, intended to play rhythmic dyads and drones to accompany the kemençe for dancing in public entertainment houses and in the imperial harem in Constantinople. Historically it seems that most players were Ottoman Greeks—the current revival of the instrument in Athens self-consciously reclaims that heritage—and the lâvta virtually disappeared after the Ottoman Empire collapsed (1923). Since the mid-1990s it has been slowly revived on both sides of the Aegean, and often nowadays has a more melodic role than previously. It is usually regarded as foreign: Turks tend to think of it as European (lâvta is also the normative Turkish word for the European lute), and Greeks consider it Turkish. Among its main exponents were the virtuoso Tanburî Cemil Bey (...