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date: 18 November 2019


  • Jeremy Montagu


Ancient three-string fiddle of Russia and Belarus. It had a pear-shaped body about 80 cm long and was played held on the knee. It was carved from a single piece of wood with a very short neck and flat head pierced for three dorsal pegs. The soundboard, also of wood, usually had two demi-lune soundholes as well as some small circular holes. The bow is thought to have been short and strongly arched. A few examples from the 11th to 13th centuries have been found in archaeological excavations in Novgorod. It persisted in use as a bardic instrument but died out well before the end of the 19th century, and no examples are known to have survived other than those from Novgorod. A modernised form has been reconstructed, but with a body considerably larger than the original, shaped somewhat like that of a flat-backed mandolin, and a long neck. Instruments similar to the original survive in other parts of Europe, such the Greek island lyra, the Bulgarian ...

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