Category Archives: Lyres



Name: Qobuz.
Type: Chordophones > Lyres > Double > Chested > Bowed.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.21.71
Country: Kazakhstan & Turkestan [Xinjiang China].
Region: Central Asia.

Description: The Qobuz [in Kazakh Cyrillic: қобыз] or qıl-qobız. The origins of this instrument are ancient. Traditionally they [Qobuz] were sacred instruments, owned by shamans and bakses who were traditional spiritual medics. According to legends, the qobuz and its music could banish evil spirits, sicknesses and death.

Development: In the Soviet Republic of Kazakhstan, during the 1930’s. Development of the Qopuz occurred in a form some what resembling a violin. In construction, appearance range and tuning. Four metal strings were added.

Citations: Bibliography: Websites: Kurmangazy Kazakh State Academic Orchestra [archived website] ;


Name: Kontra.
Type: Chordophones > Lyres > Viols.
Hornbostel Sachs No#: 321.312.7
Tunings: G / D / A
Country: Hungary & Romania.
Region: Eastern Europe.

Description: A kontra is a Hungarian [in Hungarian: háromhúros brácsa, ‘three-stringed viola’], Czech, Polish, Romanian, Slovak and Romani instrument common in Transylvania. The kontra has a defined role within dance band music. Its range lies between that of the fiddle or Vioara cu goarnă on the high-end and the double bass on the low-end.

Playing Technique: Due to the flattened bridge, a kontra is not as capable of playing melody lines as a viola. Rather, the standard method of play is to play double stops and three-note chords and let the fiddle play melody lines.

Construction: The kontra is constructed much like the classical viola, with two major differences. First, there are only three strings instead of four. Second, the bridge is flattened, allowing a musician to play all three strings at once.



Name: Husla.
Type: Chordophones > Lyres > Viols > Bowed.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.312.7
Tuning: D / A / E
Country: Germany, Poland.
Region: Europe.

Description: A husla is a bowed instrument resembling a medical fiddle. It is played by the Wends or Sorbian peoples of Eastern Germany and neighbouring Slavic countries. Unlike the violin the back of the husla is flat. Due to the rise in popularity of the violin in the early 20th century.

The Husla became almost extinct. The husla has a new chance in life in large part to the Jan Kusik and the clockmaker J. Menci [Menzel]. Since the 1950s the instrument was given a new chance on ice. As a result of the revival of interest in the folk culture in Eastern Europe.

Citations: Bibliography:


Name: Mazanki.
Type: Chordophones > Lyres > Viols.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.312.7
Tuning: F / C / G
Country: Poland.
Region: Eastern Europe.

Description: It is a small string instrument, in which you play in the shoulder position. The restoration of mazanki is largely due to the State Music School of the first century. Stanisław Moniuszko in Zbąszyń and Tomasz Śliwa are also credited in the revival of this instrument.

History: The name of mazanki appeared in the article by E. Kierski: “Customs, superstitions and rites of the people in some neighborhoods of W. Poznański” of 1861. It is derived from mazania, i.e. rubbing with strings on strings. In the 19th century the mazanki were the instruments that formed a band with bagpipes.

Largely supplanted by violins; ie. factory violins, whose neck was tied to raise the outfit and adapt it to play with bagpipes The instrument has survived the longest in the goat’s region and its neighbourhood, where it was played along with a bagpipe at wedding ceremonies to the wedding feast. Since the First World War, the mizanki is used more as a training instrument for those learning the violin.

Construction: Ewa Dahlig-Turek distinguishes four features characteristic for mazurka building: 1. Small size; 2. A box carved from one piece of wood with the neck; 3. Stands, which one leg passes through the top plate, rests on the bottom of the box and serves as a soul; 4. Three strings.

Citations: Bibliography: Ewa Dahlig: Folk violin instruments in Poland . Warsaw: Instytut Sztuki PAN, 2001, p. 91. ISBN 83-85938-54-0 ; Marian Sobieski: Mazanki, serby, violin [In:] Polish folk music and its problems . Krakow: Polskie Wydawnictwo Muzyczne, 1973 ; Maria Żurowska, Zbigniew J. Przerembski: Polish Folk Instruments – mazanki . [access 2017-02-03] ; Ewa Dahlig: Folk violin instruments in Poland . Warsaw: Instytut Sztuki PAN, 2001, p. 90. ISBN 83-85938-54-0. Dahlig E. People’s violin instruments in Poland, Warsaw, 2001 ; Sobiescy J. and M. Polish folk music and its problems, Cracow, 1973 ; Websites: Polish Folk Musical Instruments / Mazanki ;  Youtube Video [przadka mazanki] ;


Name: Suka.
Type: Chordophones > Lyres > Viols > Bowed.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.312.7
Country: Poland.
Region: Eastern Europe.

Description: The suka or ‘Suka Kocudzka’ is bowed musical instrument that is in a shape of the violin. However like the Bulgarian gadulka [although not related to it] it is played by resting the instrument vertically, while sitting on the knee. This was thought to be the “missing link” between the upside-down or “knee chordophone” instruments, and the modern violin. It died out, and was known only from drawings of a single specimen displayed at an exhibition in 1888.

Playing Techniques: The strings were stopped at the side with the fingernails; similar to the Gadulka.

Construction: Similar in appearance to the violin the suka is a bit more narrower in profile. A flat bridge and nut keep the strings taught for playing while the instrument is tuned. Seven tuning pegs are inserted at the top [peg box] of the instrument.

Citations: Bibliography: Websites: Polish Folk Instruments [Suka Page] ; Instrumenty z duszą”, odc. 11 – Suka biłgorajska / suka of Biłgoraj – Youtube [Video] ;

Dhodro Banam

Name: Dhodro Banam.
Type: Chordophones > Lyres > Double > Chested > Bowed.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.21.71
Country: India.
Region: South Asia.

Description: The single-stringed dhodro Banam comes from the Indigenous Santal tribal community of Central India. It is found particularly in Orissa. The Phet Banam is a recent development of the dhodro banam although having three to four strings. The Phet banam closely resembles the Nepalese Sarinda although it has a narrow body and wider chest cavities [sound holes].

Construction: The modern form called the Phet Banam and wide “chest cavities” functioning as a sound hole. The neck and body are carved from a single piece of wood. Both the dhodro banam and phet banam have a membrane usually of animal hide stretched over the sound cavity.

Citations: Bibliography: Sachs, Curt. Die Musikinstrumente Indiens und Indonesiens, Berlin & Leipzig, 1923 ; Shirali, Vishnudass Sargam. An Introduction to Indian Music. New Delhi, 1977 ; Chattopadhyaya, Kamaladevi. Tribalism in India. New Delhi, 1978 ; Prasad, Onkar. Santal Music. New Delhi, 1985 ; <strong>Websites:</strong> [The Met:  Dhodro Banam photos] ; The Lutes of the Santal by Bengt Fosshag ; Dhodro Banam Performance  [Youtube] ;

Chikari Sarinda

Name: Chikari Sarinda.
Type: Chordophones > Lyres > Double > Chested > Bowed.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.21.71
Country: Bengal, India & Bangladesh.
Region: South Asia.

Description: The Chikari sarinda [in Bangla; চিকারী সরিন্দা] is a Bengali variety of the saranghi / sarinda sub-groups of bowed chordophones. It has three gut strings and five sympathetic strings. It is held by the left hand while resting against the arm.

Playing techniques: The musician plays it in a manner similar to the Ravanahatha although they are bowed instruments in them selves, they are not related to one another.



Name: Sarinda.
Type: Chordophones > Lyres > Double > Chested.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.312.71
Specimen: One in collection.
Country: Many, India, Pakistan & Iran.
Region: South Asia.

Description: The sarinda in the following languages [Qeychek, Sarang, Sarinda; in Urdu: sorud سوراخ, soruz سورج]. It is a double-chested is a bowed chordophone that is found through out India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran.

It is related in shape to the Nepalese sarinda. The name Qeycheck as applied to this instrument is used in Iran. In North Eastern India [Assam] the name bannam or sareja are used for an identically shaped musical instruments. In Baluchistan and neighbouring Sindh. The name sorundo  [سورانڈو as written in Urdu] is used. In Afghanistan this instrument is primarily played by the Pashtun and Balochi peoples. In Western Rajasthan the sarinda is only played by the Surnaiya Langas. It is played in accompaniment to aerophones mainly flutes or reed instruments [pungi].

Construction: It is made of sheesham wood [Dalbergia sissoo] and has eight strings. Parchment is stretched across the sound whole at the front of the instrument. Eight individual strings pass over the bridge.

Citations: Bibliography: Stanley Sadie – New Grove Dictionary Of Music, Page 297, 298; W. Ousley: Anecdotes of Indian Music, repr. in S.M. Tagore: Hindu Music from Various Authors [Calcutta, 1875], 2/1882/R1965: C. R. Day; The Music and Musical Instruments of Southern India and the Deccan [Dheli, 1891 / R11977]; C. Sash; Die Musikinstrument Indiens and Indonesians [Berlin & Leipzig Germany, 1914, 2 / 1923]; K. S Kothari; Indian Folk Musical Instruments [New Dheli, 1968] – John Baily, Alastair Dick ;

Viola Da Gamba

Name: Viola Da Gamba.
Type: Chordophones > Lyres > Viols.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.322.71
Country: Many.
Region: Western Europe.

Description: The viola da gamba, viol / ˈvaɪəl / viola da gamba / [ˈvjɔːla da ˈɡamba] or informally gamba. It is a bowed instrument similar in profile to the cello or viol. It is played with a bow in while positioned in between the legs. Hence its name “Viol de gamba” literally ‘leg viol’]. While it is not a direct ancestor of the violin, there is some kinship between the two instrument families.

History: The viola da gamba first appeared in Spain in the mid to late 15th century and were most popular in the Renaissance and Baroque [1600-1750] periods. Early ancestors include the Arabic rebab and the medieval European vielle but later, more direct possible ancestors include the Venetian viole and the 15th and 16th century Spanish vihuela, a 6-course plucked instrument tuned like a lute and also like a present-day viol that looked like but was quite distinct from at that time the 4-course guitar an earlier chordophone.

There were then several important treatises concerning or devoted to the viol. The first was by Silvestro Ganassi dal Fontego; Regola Rubertina & Lettione Seconda [1542/3]. Diego Ortiz published Trattado de Glosas [Rome, 1553] an important book of music for the viol with both examples of ornamentation and pieces called Recercadas. In England, Christopher Simpson wrote the most important treatise, with the second edition being published in 1667 in parallel text [English and Latin].

This has divisions at the back that are very worthwhile repertoire. A little later, in England, Thomas Mace wrote Musick’s Monument, which deals more with the lute but has an important section on the viol. After this, the French treatises by Machy 1685, Rousseau 1687, Danoville 1687 and Etienne Loulie, 1700 show further developments in playing technique.

Descriptions and illustrations of viols are found in numerous early 16th-century musical treatises, including those authored by:

Sebastian Virdung: Musica getutsch, 1511
Hans Judenkunig: Ain schone kunstliche Vunderwaisung, 1523
Martin Agricola: Musica instrumentalis deutsch, 1528
Hans Gerle: Musica Teusch [or Teutsch], 1532
Both Agricola’s and Gerle’s works were published in various editions.

Vihuelists began playing their flat-edged instruments with a bow in the second half of the 15th century. Within two or three decades, this led to the evolution of an entirely new and dedicated bowed string instrument that retained many of the features of the original plucked vihuela: a flat back, sharp waist-cuts, frets, thin ribs and an identical tuning—hence its original name.

Vihuela de arco; arco is Spanish for “bow”. An influence in the playing posture has been credited to the example of Moorish rabab players. The viol is unrelated to the much older Hebrew stringed instrument called a nevel [literally, “skin”]. This ancient harp-like instrument was similar to the kinnor or nabla.

Stefano Pio argues that a re-examination of documents in the light of newly collected data indicates an origin different from the vihuela de arco from Aragon. According to Pio, the viola da gamba had its origins and evolved independently in Venice. Pio asserts that it is implausible that the vihuela de arco, which possibly arrived in Rome and Naples after 1483-1487. since Johannes Tinctoris does not mention it prior to this time.

The viola de gamba underwent such a rapid evolution by Italian instrument makers. circumstances specifically excluded by Lorenzo da Pavia nor Mantuan or Ferrarese, as evidenced by Isabella and Alfonso. Ian Woodfield, in his The Early History of the Viol, points to evidence that the viol does in fact start with the vihuela but that Italian makers of the instrument immediately began to apply their own highly developed instrument-making traditions to the early version of the instrument when it was introduced into Italy.

Initially the family of viole [“viols”] shared common characteristics but differed in the way they were played. The increase in the dimensions of the “viola” determined the birth of the viol and the definitive change in the manner the instrument was held, as musicians found it easier to play it vertically.

The first consort of viols formed by four players was documented at the end of the fifteenth century in the courts of Mantua and Ferrara, but was also present in popular Venetian music ambience, noted at the Scuola Grande di San Marco, 1499; Venetian culture remained independent of Spanish influence and consequently unfamiliar with the instruments of those lands, such as the bowed vihuela de arco.

Although bass viols superficially resemble cellos, viols are different in numerous respects from instruments of the violin family: the viol family has flat rather than curved backs, sloped rather than rounded shoulders, c holes rather than f holes, and five to seven rather than four strings; some of the many additional differences are tuning strategy (in fourths with a third in the middle—similar to a lute—rather than in fifths], the presence of frets, and underhand [“German”] rather than overhand [“French”] bow grip.

Family: All members of the viol family are played upright [unlike the violin or the viola, which is held under the chin]. All viol instruments are held between the legs like a modern cello, hence the Italian name viola da gamba [it. “viol for the leg”] was sometimes applied to the instruments of this family. This distinguishes the viol from the modern violin family, the viola da braccio [it. “viol for the arm”].

A player of the viol is commonly known as a gambist, violist / ˈvaɪəlɪst / or violist da gamba. “Violist” shares the spelling, but not the pronunciation, of the word commonly used since the mid-20th century to refer to a player of the viola. It can therefore cause confusion if used in print where context does not clearly indicate that a viol player is meant, though it is entirely unproblematic, and common, in speech.

Frets on the viol are usually made of gut, tied on the fingerboard around the instrument’s neck, to enable the performer to stop the strings more cleanly. Frets improve consistency of intonation and lend the stopped notes a tone that better matches the open strings.

Citations: Bibliography: Websites:


Name: Bambir.
Type: Chordophones > Lyres > Viols > Bowed.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.313.7
Tuning: C / G / D / A
Country: Armenia.
Region: Caucasus.

Description: The bambir [in Armenian: Բամբիռ bambir] is a cello that was invented in the early 1950s and named after the ancient Armenian instrument.

Construction: Similar in appearance to a Western cello to which this design is based off. The instrument is slightly smaller in size. The body is allowed out from a single piece of wood. The sound holes of the bambir are 7 cm in length and 2.5 cm in width. Has several added sound hole about 5 mm in diameter.

A thin animal membrane is stretched underneath the belly gives the bambir its distinctive timbre and a clean tone. The tone is closest to a muted cello although related in sound to the Persian Kamenche. The length o the body is 45 cm and the with varies from 29 cm at the base, 13 cm in the middle and 24 cm at the top.

Citations: Bibliography: Stanley Sadie – New Grove Dictionary of Music, Robert At’Ayan Balum, Page, 118 ;