Europe - Plucked Strings - History



 Nord Europe



Bandore angleterre

The Bandore or pandore is a large musical instrument with plucked strings which can be considered as a kind of record in a more serious register, even if it lacks the discontinuous tuning that can characterize the record.

Without doubt built for the first time by John Rose in England, around 1560, the instrument remained popular for more than a century2.

The orphanage is a smaller version of the bandore.

The bandore is frequently used as one of the two serious instruments of a “broken consort” as found in the works of Thomas Morley, while also being able to be used as a solo instrument. Anthony Holborne has written numerous pieces for bandore solo.

The bandore's body is flat; it is mounted with six chords of metal strings



Dulcimer ecosse

The Dulcimer is attributed to the family of zither.
The instruments at the origin of the word dulcimer were in vogue in the Middle Ages and bore in Old French the name of doulce melle, doulcemelle, doucemelle or dulce melos in Latin, meaning "sweet melody", terms in line with the sound it produced modest sound power.
Its sound box (in walnut wood or other hard wood, depending on local resources) often has the shape of an elongated hourglass (so-called hourglass shape).

It is pierced with two or four openings of variable shapes on the table (made of spruce, red cedar or various hard woods) to promote the expression of sound. . Ropes overhang it (often four): two strings of bumblebees and two very close strings usually tuned in unison, called "chanterelles".



Kantele finlande

The Kantele is a traditional plucked string instrument from Finland and Karelia. The Kantele is also close to the ancient instruments of Asia such as the qalun ouighour, the Chinese gu zheng, the Japanese Koto and the Korean gayageum.
It is made of wood and traditionally has 5 strings. Newer models (mainly from the 20th century) can have a variable number of strings, from 5 to 40

The kantele is generally tuned according to a diatonic scale. For the five-string kantele, the most common tunings are in D major (Ré-Mi-Fa # -Sol-La), or alternatively in D minor (Ré-Mi-Fa-Sol-La). Kantele with more than five strings are most often tuned with an incomplete scale, where the seventh is omitted and where the lowest string is tuned a quarter below the tonic, acting as a drone (example for a kantele with 10 strings: A-B-C# -D-E-F# - G-A-B-D).



Crwth irlande

The Crwt also called the rote, is an instrument of Welsh or Irish origin, probably from the 10th - 11th century, date on which the use of the bow became common in Western Europe. It is one of the last instruments played by the historic bards of the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

The Welsh word crwth and the word Gaelic cruit were generic terms referring to plucked stringed instruments in general, including the first harps, and the six-string lyres common to all of "barbarian" Europe of the High Middle Ages (cf. the famous Sutton Hoo lyre kept in the British Museum). Welsh crwth is clearly related to the latter instrument (as are other bowed lyres, for example the Scandinavian strakharpa); on the other hand, he is in no way an ancestor of the violin.

The instrument was hollowed out in the mass (monoxyle) and included six variable strings - four chanterelles (aligned with the fingerboard) and two drones (separated from the fingerboard).

He plays like the fiddle that has supplanted him. He has experienced renewed interest in recent years.



Kelutviaq islande

The Kelutviaq is a string lute played by the Yupiks of Nelson Island, British Columbia, Canada.
The instrument was certified in 1971 by the ethnomusicologist Walcott.




Langeleik norvege

The Langeleik is a typical Norwegian bumblebee zither. It is an ancient instrument dating back to the 16th century and that is rarely used today.

There are also the names "langhørpu" and "langspill". It is a cousin of the Vosges spruce.
The old versions are rectangular, but the modern ones tend to be rounded. Small sills mark out the soundboard to mark out the playing areas.

There is a play string and four to eight drone strings, which you play empty and tune in thirds. The repertoire is diatonic, given the low playing possibilities.

One of his greatest performers of the century was Elisabeth Kværne.


Pays de galles

Harpe pays de gallas

The Harp is a plucked stringed musical instrument, most often triangular in shape, with strings stretched of varying lengths, the shortest of which give the highest notes. It is an asymmetrical instrument, unlike the lyre whose strings are stretched between two parallel uprights. The instrumentalist who plays the harp is called a harpist.

At the beginning, there were two kinds of harps: the arched harp and the angular harp. It is, along with the flute and certain percussion instruments, one of the oldest musical instruments. It may have been born from the musical arc whose string, stretched and relaxed, vibrates and emits a sound.

The origin of the harp goes back to Mesopotamia. The first harps and lyres were found in Sumer around 3500 BC. J. C.1. Several harps have been found in tombs and royal tombs in Ur. It is known to musicians of ancient Egypt, such as Sumer (present-day Iran) and Babylon.

The harp has spread across various civilizations and all continents in different forms.

The harp was a universal instrument: it is celebrated on all continents and all social categories are expressed through its art.
In Europe, it is reported in the south-east of Scotland on “Pictish” stones around the ninth century AD. AD, and in Ireland during the High Middle Ages. It then took its modern form: triangular, apparently placed on the point, and equipped with the column which connects the console (where the strings hang) at the bottom of the sound box. Its use then spread throughout the continent.


Southern Europe



Bandurria espagne

The Bandurria is a plucked musical instrument that gave its name to the set of instruments that make up the group of Spanish lutes, that is to say, soprano bandurria, mezzo soprano, tenor, baritone, bass and even noble bass if all receive other names such as bandurrín, laúd, laudón, thus reserving the name of bandurria to the only acute instrument. They are found in the Philippines following the Spanish colonization.

The bandurria is part of the family of cisters and seems to have appeared around the 15th century. The bandouria is played using a plectrum allowing you to pluck or strum the strings of the instrument.

Today, and having gone through different shapes and sizes throughout history, it is a small, rounded, flat-bottomed pear-shaped instrument with six double strings, neck with frets. The neck and fingerboard have between fifteen to twenty inlaid bars. The strings are made of steel and nylon.

The bandurria is played using a plectrum allowing to pluck or strum the strings of the instrument, nowadays the plectrum can be replaced by a pick. The practice of bandurria is close to that of the lute. Most musicians play with a pick in brushed chords. Some bandurria players use the technique known as finger-picking.



Guitare classique espagne

The Classical Guitar is amplified by a sound box; very old instrument whose origins date back to the highest Antiquity (the word guitar could come from the Persian word kitar), whose shape and dimensions have evolved over the centuries, from the renaissance guitar, then baroque to the classical guitar modern, created by Antonio de Torres, great Spanish luthier of the 19th century, which remains the current standard.

The classical guitar consists of a sound box made of a softwood soundboard (spruce or cedar in general), splints and a hardwood back (rosewood, mahogany, maple ... ) and a fretboard (mahogany or cedar) with a fretted (rosewood or ebony) fingerboard. On quality instruments, the woods are massive and the choice of species used and the different construction parameters has a strong impact on the sound. On low-end instruments, the sound box or even the soundboard can be made of plywood, and their construction is standardized for mass production.

Many variations of the classical guitar have emerged in the 20th century - accompaniment and folk guitars, jazz guitars, electric guitars - and have made it possible to expand the possibilities and styles of music of this essential instrument today.



Requinto espagne

The Requinto is a string instrument similar to the guitar, although of smaller size, and whose characteristics vary according to the region.

There are, for example, the Aragonese, Argentinian, Colombian, Mexican, Peruvian and Venezuelan requintos.



Baglamas grece

The Baglama is a Greek musical instrument with plucked strings taken from saz (among the Turks), from the same family as the Slavic tamburitsa. In the Balkans, Greeks and Slavs used the word "tamboura" to designate this family of instruments since the Byzantine era 1. But from 1922, in Greece, the Greeks of Asia minor who used the term "baglama" ( which indicates in Turkish various types of three-stringed instruments) imposed this new terminology. Here, however, it designates a sort of miniature bouzouki trichordo.

The Greek baglama presents similarities with the smallest representatives of the saz family, like the cura saz or the üç telli bağlama, without a direct parentage being established; these instruments differ in particular in the type of frets and playing, and often the shape or size of the body

Like the bouzouki trichordo of which it is the replica, it has a domed bottom often hollowed out in a piece of wood, 3 double metal strings tuned generally Ré-La-Ré, a modern peg and a handle furnished with fixed frets.

It can be played as a solo instrument but is generally used as an accompaniment, often in association with a bouzouki and a guitar, its timbre allowing it to be heard despite its relative lack of power.



Bouzoukin grece 1

The Bouzouki is a musical instrument widespread in Greece, of which it is often considered as the "national" instrument since the middle of the XXᵉ century. It is a lute with a long fretted handle, of the tambur family, very close to the Bulgarian or Serbian tambur, the tambitza or the saz, from which it differs by the fixed frets, the central hearing and the more metallic sound.

Contrary to popular belief, we find its ancestor, the "tambouras" from the Byzantine period throughout Greek and Slavic space, therefore before the arrival of the Turks in the Balkans.

70 cm long, it has a long narrow handle with 27 fixed frets, and a piriform shape (the glued laminated bottom of which is curved). The rosette is more or less decorated with mother-of-pearl, the traditional bouzouki being generally more sober. The strings are metallic and doubled, the lower choirs being normally tuned to the octave.

The traditional bouzouki (trichordo) has three double strings (choirs) tuned in D - A - D. The two lowest choruses are frequently used as the drone, the melody being played on the highest choir.