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date: 23 October 2019

Sambuca(i) (Lat.; Gk. sambukē)locked

  • James W. McKinnon


(Lat.; Gk. sambukē)

One of several terms for the Greek harp (see Trigōnon). The word is Eastern in origin: there are cognates in various languages, notably Aramaic (there the word is sabbeka, which appears four times in Daniel). The term was also applied to a Roman engine of war consisting of the hull of a boat with a vertical ladder at its prow that was supported by cables. The military device was named after the musical instrument, which was considerably older, and harps closely corresponding to descriptions of the machine are found in pictorial representations. These harps had a boat-shaped soundbox as their horizontal member with a vertical post rising at one end of the soundbox and strings extending diagonally between the two members The instrument was thus something of a cross between an arched harp and an angular harp; it had the lower soundbox and diagonal strings of an arched harp, but its post was attached to the soundbox at an angle so that the overall shape of the instrument resembled a triangle more than a bow....

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C. Sachs: The History of Musical Instruments (New York, 1940)