Instruments | Psaltery, Cittole & Gittern | Medieval Era | Classical

The medieval psaltery was a flat box with strings running across its top; it was plucked either by the fingers or by a quill held in each hand. The harp-psaltery, or rote, took the form of a right-angled triangle with the apex pointing into the musician’s lap. Although played like a harp, in construction it was more similar to a psaltery as the soundbox was positioned behind the strings and filled the entire triangle.

The cittole and the gittern are two instruments of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries that are often confused with one another. Both were held across the body and played like a guitar, plucked with the right hand with the strings stopped by the left hand. The gittern had a pear-shaped body with a curved back, tapering into a neck ending in a peg box. The cittole was flat-backed and shaped in a figure-of-eight. To release the sound from the hollow body, the former had a series of holes puncturing the front like a lute rose and the latter a pair of C-shaped holes, not unlike a violin.

Styles & Forms | Medieval Era | Classical
Instruments | Pipe & Tabor | Medieval Era | Classical


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