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John M. Schechter

Mandolin widely used as a folk instrument in Latin America. The instruments of the mestizos and Quechuas in highland Ecuador have a teardrop-shaped body with a flat back and a circular sound hole and are made from cedar, pine, and other woods. They have five triple courses of metal strings and are played with a plectrum. Several tunings are found; in the region of Cotacachi, Imbabura Province, one tuning is g–e♭″–c–g–e♭″; a more popular tuning is eee–aaa–ddd–f♯″f♯′f♯″–bbb″. The latter tuning is often varied in the fourth course to gg′g″ to facilitate guitar-like chord fingerings. In the Andean region the bandolín, together with the rondador and the charango, accompanies sanjuanito...



Ian Harwood and Lyle Nordstrom

[pandora] (Fr. pandore, bandore; Ger. Bandoer, Pandora)

A plucked chordophone (classified as a lute) of bass register with metal strings and a scalloped and festooned body outline, said to have been invented in London in 1562. Besides having a considerable solo repertory, it was required to accompany some of the earliest printed English songs, and was one of the six obligatory instruments of the mixed Consort. There are many references to its use in the theatre and in court entertainments through the late 16th century and the 17th, but by the 18th it was falling into disuse.

The bandora has a flat or slightly domed back and a flat soundboard into which is set a circular ornamental ‘rose’ soundhole. It is strung with iron and brass wires, the lowest of which are twisted from two or more strands, not overspun like modern ones. Bacon (Sylva Sylvarum, 1627) writes of ‘a Wreathed String such as are in the Base Strings of Bandoraes’. The strings run in double courses from the pegbox, usually ‘viol’ type with lateral pegs, over the fingerboard and soundboard to the bridge, which is glued in position, as on a lute. The bandora has a special method of string attachment at the bridge, that is, a fret-like strip of brass and a row of hitch-pins along its bottom edge. Although the bandora has been described as a kind of bass cittern, its fixed bridge and the lute-like system of bars under its flat soundboard make it acoustically quite distinct. Whereas the cittern was normally a plectrum instrument, the bandora was played with the fingers (although Roger North reported in the late 17th century that the ‘pandora’ was ‘struck with a quill’). The only features the two instruments have in common are the metal strings and sheet brass frets, secured in tapering slots in the fingerboard by hardwood wedges....



Sofia Hrytsa


A hybrid instrument of the Ukraine combining elements of a lute and box zither, possibly derived from the 10th century Arabic and Persian pandura and the kobuz of the Kipchak and Polovtsian peoples. It has a short neck, a shallow oval wooden body and a resonating hole on the upper soundboard. There may be a varying number of strings; four to eight bass (buntï) strings on the neck, plucked by the left hand, and between seven and thirty metal strings (pidstrunki, tuned chromatically) across the soundboard, plucked by the right hand. Older examples are tuned diatonically.

The bandura (also known as the kobza until the end of the 19th century) was widely used by the Cossacks during the 16th and 17th centuries. The performers, called banduristï or kobzari, were itinerant singer-instrumentalists who used the bandura to accompany the epic dumï, historical songs, ballads and other forms. The instrument was also adopted by the Polish gentry. The ...


John M. Schechter


A plucked lute. A hybrid of the guitar and cittern families, it is found in Spain and parts of Latin America. It has a small, cittern-shaped body with comparatively deep ribs, flat back, short fretted neck, and large peg-holder with pegs projecting from the rear as on a guitar. The strings pass over a large central soundhole and are usually fixed to a string-holder. In Spain a púa (plectrum) is used to pick out melody.

The term ‘mandurria’ was mentioned in the 14th century by Juan Ruiz in his Libro de buen amor. In 1555 Juan Bermudo described the bandurria in his Comiença el libro llamado declaraciõ de instrumetos [sic] as a three-string instrument, but he also mentioned other types with four or even five strings. He said that the outer courses were tuned an octave apart, with the middle course either a 5th or a 4th above the lowest. Later, five- and six-course bandurrias were tuned in 4ths throughout, a tuning that is still used (...



Lyre of the Berta people of southeastern Sudan. It has a wooden bowl resonator, a soundtable of hide into which two soundholes are cut, and a small wooden bridge. The five strings, formerly made of gut, are nowadays made of steel. Each string is fastened to a strip of cloth wound around the yoke and can be tuned by twisting the cloth. The ...



Andrew Tracey

[bango, ndyele, pango, pangwe]

Board zither of southeastern Africa made of a flat board or of a raft of papyrus stalks. Its single wire or fibre string is stretched from end to end through holes in the body of the instrument (normally seven times, but nine to 12 among the Sena, Manganja, and Barwe peoples of central Mozambique). Rough tuning is effected by friction tensioning each segment, fine tuning by moving the small bridges under each string at the player’s end. In northern Mozambique and Malawi the player usually strums all the pentatonically tuned strings with the right index finger while damping with the left fingers those notes that are not required to sound, an ancient technique used on many lyres and zithers. The bangwe, once ubiquitous in Malawi, is now rare. In central Mozambique the tuning is heptatonic; the player plucks the open strings with the fingers and thumbs of both hands, sharing a repertoire with the lamellaphones of the region. The far end of the instrument is often put into a calabash or tin can for resonance; the resonator is dotted with loose bottle tops that serve as buzzers....




Jay Scott Odell and Robert B. Winans

A plucked string instrument with a long guitar-like neck and a circular soundtable, usually called the “head,” of tautly stretched parchment or skin (now usually plastic), against which the bridge is pressed by the strings. The banjo and its variants, classified as plucked lute chordophones, have had long and widespread popularity as folk, parlor, and professional entertainers’ instruments. It used to be speculated that the name of the instrument probably derived from the Portuguese or Spanish bandore, but another possibility, at least as likely, comes out of recent research into West African plucked lute traditions, which has identified at least six traditional plucked lutes whose necks are made from a thick stalk of papyrus, known throughout the Senegambian region by the Mande term “bang” (also “bangoe,” “bangjolo,” “bangjulo,” “bung,” “bungo”).

The modern five-string banjo is normally fitted with raised frets and strung with steel wire strings. It is tuned g...


Zither shaped like a harp. It was invented in the USA in the 19th century. It was 90 cm tall, had 18 strings, and five to seven buttons with which to change the pitch; on the lower part of the instrument was a drum to give a banjo-like resonance. ‘Banjo Harp’ was also a trade name for a five-string banjo with a wooden soundtable and a resonator back made by the Paramount Banjo Co. (William L. Lange) in the 1920s....


Term for a banjo with four paired strings or a mandolin with a banjo-type head. Such combination types were popular novelties in the USA in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Some were patented, for example the Bandonian by William H. DeWick of Brooklyn (b 1869), patented ...




Ferdinand J. de Hen


Zither of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The name banzie is used by the Zande people, banzu by the Mangbetu and Bwa. It has a box resonator of bark and 9 to 13 liana strings.

F.J. de Hen: Beitrag zur Kenntnis der Musikinstrumente aus Belgisch Kongo und Ruanda-Urundi (Tervuren, 1960), 155–6....







Alastair Dick

Term applied chiefly to central, west, and South Asian lutes signifying that the soundbox outline forms sharp points at the waist. When barbs below the waist point upward (as with some historical and extant South Asian types), the shape may be called ‘inverted barbed’. The term ‘barb’ was used by C. Sachs (...


Jane McIntosh Snyder

(late Gk. barbiton)

Greek instrument of the Lyre family (a Chordophone). In Greek literature and vase painting it is generally associated with the Eastern Greek poets (including Terpander, Sappho, Alcaeus and Anacreon) of the Archaic period (7th and 6th centuries bce), and with drinking parties. The name of the instrument, probably of non-Greek derivation, occurs only once in the fragments of these early poets (in Alcaeus, ed. E.-M. Voigt, Sappho et Alcaeus: Fragmenta, 1971, frag.70.4, in the dialect form barmos), but it is frequently mentioned by later Greek writers, who attribute the instrument's ‘invention’ variously to Terpander or Anacreon. The arrival of Anacreon in Athens as a court poet in the late 6th century coincides with the sudden appearance of the barbitos in Athenian vase paintings, many of which show him as a player. As the chief string instrument used to accompany Dionysiac revelry, it is only occasionally depicted in the hands of Muses or of women entertaining themselves at home....



[jeu barré] (Fr.: ‘barred’, ‘stopped’; Ger. Quergriff; It. capo tasto; Sp. cejuela)

In the playing of certain fretted plucked string instruments, particularly the lute, guitar and banjo, the term used to describe the technique of stopping all or several of the strings at the same point by holding a finger across them. Although the form of the word is adjectival the term is also used in writings in English as a noun; some English-speaking writers use ‘bar’ or ‘barring’, but the French forms barré or jeu barré are more frequently found. (In the music of the late 17th-century viol masters – particularly that of Marin Marais – the term doigt couché is used; see Fingering, §II, 1.) The earliest references to the barré seem to date from the second half of the 17th century; Francisco Guerau’s introduction to his Poema harmónico (1694), for example, advises the player to become accustomed to using the ‘cejuela … putting the index finger of the left hand over more or less all the strings, depending on your requirements, which is very necessary in order to play certain passages’....


Arthur W.J.G. Ord-Hume

[cylinder piano, self-acting piano, street piano, café piano; sometimes inaccurately called barrel organ or hurdy-gurdy]

A piano played automatically by a pinned barrel or cylinder. In the form made in London by William Rolfe (from 1829) and others, an ordinary piano was augmented by a pinned wooden cylinder placed inside the case under the keyboard. This barrel was provided with a mechanical keyframe and a series of linkages or stickers which extend behind the soundboard to the top of the piano and operate an additional set of hammers which strike the strings through a gap in the soundboard. The barrel is turned by a clockwork motor driven by a heavy weight which is wound up to the top of the case. (For an illustration see Mechanical instrument, fig.)

About 1804 John Longman introduced a drawing-room barrel piano with no keyboard which was also weight-driven and included effects such as drum, triangle and buff stop. Around 1860 the Black Forest makers Imhof & Mukle introduced spring-driven clockwork barrel pianos, also for drawing-room use and without manual keyboard. In other types of barrel piano, the mechanism is operated by turning a hand crank. The domestic automatic piano dispensed with the cumbersome barrel in favour, first, of Debain's ...



Hugh Davies

revised by Laura Maes

French sound sculptors and instrument inventors. Bernard (b Paris, France, 24 Aug 1917) and his brother François (b Paris, France, 30 March 1920) developed a variety of sound sculptures and new instruments under the generic name Structures sonores. Bernard Baschet trained and originally worked as an engineer, and then (1962–5) directed a research team at the Groupe de Recherches Musicales of French Radio (ORTF), whose work resulted in Pierre Schaeffer’s Traité des objets musicaux (1966). François Baschet studied sculpture and worked as a furniture designer.

François Baschet began to concentrate on sound in 1952, when transportation problems urged him to rethink the concept of a guitar and to create an inflatable guitar using a plastic balloon as a sound box. (The first patent concerning string instruments that utilize as a resonance chamber a balloon, a bladder, or the like, inflated with air or any inert gas, was filed in France on ...



Arvydas Karaška

Folk bass fiddle of Lithuania. It is shaped like a double bass and varies in size from that of a cello to a double bass. The body is assembled from pieces of fir and maple, or sometimes ash or birch wood. The tuning mechanism is a system of cogwheels and metal pegs as on a double bass, or occasionally wooden pegs as on a cello. The basedla has three (less often two or four) gut or metal strings, usually tuned in 4ths to match the pitch of the instruments it accompanies, such as the concertina, birbune (folk clarinet), and clarinet. The short home-made bow is called bosiklis. A large basedla is played standing, smaller ones are held like a cello.

The basedla made its way into folk music from palace or manor-house orchestras. Often played in village bands for weddings, dances, and occasionally funerals, the basedla was used throughout Lithuania and was especially popular in Samogitia (western Lithuania). The ...