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date: 20 October 2019

Psaltery [sawtry] (Fr. psaltérion, saltere, sauterie; Ger. Psalterium, Psalter; It. and Sp. salterio)locked

  • James W. McKinnon,
  • Nelly van Ree Bernard,
  • Mary Remnant
  •  and Beryl Kenyon de Pascual


[sawtry] (Fr. psaltérion, saltere, sauterie; Ger. Psalterium, Psalter; It. and Sp. salterio)

An instrument of the zither family (classified as a Chordophone ). It consists of a raised piece of wood, or a wooden box with soundholes, without a neck; it may be rectangular, triangular or trapeziform in shape (the various forms are shown schematically in fig.1 ). The instrument may be strung singly or with multiple courses. The strings are stretched parallel to the soundboard over one or more bridges and attached at either side by wooden or bone pegs, or metal pins. In relation to each other, the strings are parallel or fan-shaped in their arrangement, depending on the shape of the psaltery. Usually the strings are plucked, by the fingers or by plectra. (For psalteries struck with hammers, see Dulcimer .)

James W. McKinnon

The Latin term psalterium (Gk. psaltērion) was applied to a variety of ancient and medieval string instruments. It belongs to the category of words (like organum and ...

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Early Music
M. Mersenne: Harmonie universelle
Journal of the American Musicological Society
Lisbon, Biblioteca da Ajuda
M. Praetorius: Theatrum instrumentorum [pt ii/2 of PraetoriusSM]
C. Sachs: The History of Musical Instruments (New York, 1940)
R.M.A. [Royal Musical Association] Research Chronicle
Archiv für Musikwissenschaft
S. Virdung: Musica getutscht (Basle, 1511/R)
Revista de musicología
Anuario musical
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)