Category Archives: Chordophones



Name: Keteng-Keteng.
Type: Chordophones > Zithers > Tube > Idiochords.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 312.11
Country: Batak Karo area, North Sumatra, Indonesia.
Region: South East Asia.

Description: The Keteng-Keteng is a tube zither that is found in the Batak Karo area in North Sumatra, Indonesia. It is between 60 cm and 80 cm in length and usually about 10 cm to 15 cm in diameter. When the lower strings are beaten, they produce a sound resembling a gong.

Playing Techniques: The part played on this string, resembles the punctuating part of a gong in the main Batak Karo ceremonial orchestra, the Gendong Sarunai. It is played four, eight or 16 beat intervals. The other string, producing two pitches, contributes, to the stock melodic patterns. Rhythmically the music performed on this instrument, resembles the drumming in main ceremonial orchestra.

Construction: The tube is at each end retaining both nodes. A whole is cut into one node at the front and back of the tube. Two or occasionally three strings are cut from the same piece of bamboo. Bridges are inserted at both ends underneath each string.

The highest of the strings is raised by inserting a bridge in the middle. The insertion of the middle fret when raising the string, allows for two separate tones to be produced.

Citations: Bibliography: Margaret J. Kartomi, Stanley Sadie ~ New Grove Dictionary of Music, Vol. 2 Book Go to O page 379 ;

Concert Zither

Name: Concert Zither.
Type: Chordophones > Zither > Box > Fretted.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 314.122.4
Country: Germany.
Region: Europe.

Description: The concert zither or [in German: Konzertzither] its variant the Alpine zither both using a fretted fingerboard and the chord zither more recently described as a fretless zither or “guitar zither”.

The Concert and Alpine zithers are traditionally found in the Alpines and mainly with in Central Europe including the following Slovenia, North Western Croatia, Austria, Hungary, France the southern regions of Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.

Emigration from these areas during the 19th century introduced the concert and Alpine zither to North and South America. Chord zithers similar to the instrument in the photograph also became popular in North America during the late 19th and early 20th century.



Name: Citera.
Type: Chordophones > Zither > Box > Fretted.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 314.122.4
Country: Hungary.
Region: Eastern Europe.

Description: The citera is a fretted-zither that is found in Hungary. It is related to fretted zithers. Namely other European zithers French Épinette des Vosges, the Norwegian Langeleik and the Swedish Hummel and the Appalachian Dulcimer. The Hungarian citera is very diversified in its form and size. The tuning and its basic features and manner of playing are very similar.

Usage: The citera is played as a solo instrument and to accompany vocalists. Up until the 1920s these instruments were very popular at festivities because of their strong sound they could provide dance music without band accompaniment.

Citations: Bibliography: Websites, [citera luthier]; Tibor Gáts ;


Name: Swarmandal.
Type: Chordophones > Zithers > Box > Fretless.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 314.122.4
Country: India.
Region: South Asia.

Description: The swarmandal The swarmandal [in Hindi: स्वरमण्डल in IPA: s̪ʋərmən̪ɖəl̪]. The name is a portamento combining the words swara [notes] and mandal [group] it belongs to the plucked box zither sub-group of the category of zithers. It is also known popularly as surmandal. The strings are plucked in melody with singers voice. The swarmandal is tuned to the notes of the raga being performed. This instrument is primarily played in vocal Hindustani classical genres.

Usage: Some of the vocalists who have used this instrument extensively are Bade Ghulam Ali Khan [1902–1968], Salamat Ali Khan [1934–2003], Jasraj [b. 1930], Kishori Amonkar [1932–2017], Rashid Khan [b. 1966] and Ajoy Chakrabarty [b. 1952]. Other vocalists such as Amir Khan have played around with it privately but preferred the simpler, less intrusive tampura for accompaniment.

Construction: Having 21 to 36 individual strings in total. Its construction is very similar to the autoharp in appearance although the dimensions are slightly larger in actual size.

Exposure: This instrument gained exposure outside of India. When the Beatles recorded their 1967 single “Strawberry Fields Forever” features a swarmandal, played by George Harrison, as does “Within You Without You”, from the band’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album.


Mandolin Harp

Name: Mandolin Harp.
Type: Chordophones > Zithers > Box > Fretless.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 314.122.4
Inventor: Friederich Menzenhauer [1858-1937].
Patent Date: May 29, 1894
Country: Germany, United States.
Region: Western Europe & North America.

Description: A mandolin harp is a fretless box zither. This musical instrument consists of a sound box with two sets of unstopped strings. It has a double strings tuned in unison courses producing a mandolin-like sound then other zithers. As it is a fretless zither, there are no frets. Making it such that players can only play one note on each string.

Invention: The mandolin harp was first patented by Friedrich Menzenhauer on May 29, 1894 and came into use in the late 19th century. It was then mass produced in the United States and Germany. Later, Oscar Schmidt Company and others began mass producing the mandolin harp.

The Phonoharp Company used “Columbia Zither” as both a brand name and a generic name for the instrument as seen in the Sears 1902 Catalog. A unique feature called a gizmo, contained small buttons in a panel over the strings. This was present on many mandolin harps however, some mandolin harps may not have one.

Citations: Bibliography: Websites: This Just In! Mandolin Harp / Historical Museum ;

Bowed Psaltery

Name: Bowed Psaltery.
Type: Chordophone > Zither > Box > Fretless.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 314.122.4
Inventor: Walter Mittman.
Country: Germany, Many.
Luthier: Made By, Ken Brodkey, California USA.
Specimen: 1 in Collection.
Region: Many & Continental Europe.

Description: The bowed psaltery is a fretless box zither, that is played with a bow. After the Second World War, Walter Mittman, a primary school teacher in Westphalia, popularized the conventional triangular bowed psaltery, which had earlier been advocated for use in education by the German Edgar Stahmer [1911-1996].

Citations: Bibliography: Websites: