Name: Cittern.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes > Citole.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.322.6
Scale Length: mm.
Era: 16th to 18th Centuries.
Country: France, Italy, Germany, Spain & England.
Region: Western Europe.

Description: The cittern or cithren [Fr. cistre, It. cetra, Ger. Cister, Sp. cistro, cedra, cítola] is a stringed instrument dating from the Renaissance. Modern scholars debate its exact history, but it is generally accepted that it is descended from the Medieval citole [or cytole].

From the 16th until the 18th century the cittern was a common English barber shop instrument. It was kept in waiting areas for customers to entertain themselves and others with, and popular sheet music for the instrument was published to that end.

The cittern almost resembles a flat back mandolin and the modern day Irish Bouzouki. It is descended from the English guitar. Played by all classes, the cittern was a premier instrument of casual music-making much as is the guitar today.

Cittern Tunings
Names Courses Tunings
Fifth C G g d g
Sixth C G C g c g

Citations: Bibliography: The Quarterly Journal of the Guild of American Luthiers, Issues 85-88 ; Websites:

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