Type: Lute > Chordophones.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.322.6
Country: Greece, Turkey.
Region: South Europe, Asia Minor & Mediterranean.
Description: The lavta is a plucked string instrument from Istanbul Turkey. Known as a lavta [լավտա] in Armenian, also occasionally called Πολιτικό Λαούτο [politiko lauto], [Lute from Constantinople] in Greek. The lavta was popular in the early 20th century; particularly among the Greek and Armenian communities of Istanbul, but also the Turkish community.
It was one of the many instruments played by noted Turk Tanburi Cemil Bey. It was gradually replaced by the oud and survived until this day. From the 1980s onward there has been a revival of interest in this instrument. The lavta is now available again in both Turkey and in Greece.
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Construction: The lavta is in the same family as the laouto and oud. It is constructed from a ribbed body much the same way as a laouto, bouzouki or saz. Utilizing the carvel bending technique to form the ribs that make up the body. The instrument has six doubled strings and a 7th single string arranged in the order of four doubled strings [a pair of two strings] and one single string.
Occasionally musicians may change the strings from nylon to metal to achieve different tonal characteristics of the same musical instrument when played. The frets are tied and are arranged to the quarter-tones present in the maqam system.